Ole Miss has spent the better part of the modern era searching for a high school passer who can succeed in college, something Rebel football hasn't seen since Eli Manning. But that might be on the verge of changing: Shea Patterson, a five-star quarterback, committed to Ole Miss over LSU and Southern Cal during a Fat Tuesday announcement ceremony.
A 6'2, 195-pounder originally from Hidalgo, Texas, Patterson moved to Shreveport, La. prior to his sophomore year and hasn't looked back. In two seasons at Calvary Baptist he has accounted for 5,083 passing yards, 72 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, adding another 375 yards and six scores on the ground. While those numbers may not be exceptional in terms of sheer output, he appears to be a smart player with a great throwing motion and strong accuracy.
Rivals.com has Patterson as the top quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player, regardless of position, in the 2016 class. Yeah, he's a big deal. Also, he's set to enroll in January, so he'll have an extra spring during which he can get acquainted with the system and school. As Ole Miss fans know all too well, a commitment is far from an assurance that he'll actually make it to campus, but this is still a major win for Hugh Freeze.
How he fits in
Patterson is an impressive enough prospect that he should challenge for the starting job in his first or second season on campus. Eli was the last quarterback to come out of the high school ranks and actually succeed at Ole Miss. Saying those are some large shoes to fill is putting it very, very lightly.
One of Patterson's most impressive attributes appears to be his strong leadership. He takes command of the huddle, and it shows with how efficiently the offense runs with him at the helm. Patterson has led the team to back-to-back state titles (the second over Ole Miss signee Jason Pellerin's squad), with a chance to make it three in a row as a senior.
As evidenced by his seven interceptions in two years, he takes very good care of the football and knows his limits. Patterson possesses a very quick release and is capable of throwing receivers open when blanketed by coverage. He is of average height, but that doesn't appear to be something about which to worry.
Probably the most intriguing thing is Patterson's versatility. He moves well within and outside the pocket with steady feet, unwavering presence, and eyes that stay downfield when he's moving. He isn't going to kill anyone with his running ability alone, but he is quick enough to keep defenses honest with it.
With his immense play-making ability, Patterson likely has the coaches chomping at the bit to get him to campus and into Freeze's hurry up no huddle offense. While it's difficult to heap expectations on players this early, if Patterson's commitment sticks he has the talent to leave a tremendous mark in Oxford. So, until spring practice starts, as Notorious B.I.G. so eloquently put it, relax and take notes.