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NFL Draft

Jaret Patterson On Journey To Buffalo, 2020 Outlook

  • The Draft Network
  • November 4, 2020
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When it comes to mentioning the University of Buffalo, there's a distinct group of players who have gone on to become not only stalwart players within the program, but also standout athletes on the NFL level. Khalil Mack is the most notable name to come from the program, but other players such as James Starks and Branden Oliver also went on to experience success. The next man up? Running back Jaret Patterson, who has already set multiple school records on his way to becoming arguably the top prospect in the conference. With the MAC set to make its debut, all eyes will be on Patterson as Buffalo travels to Northern Illinois (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

After a historic season last year that saw him rush for 1,799 yards and 19 touchdowns, Patterson is considered to be one of the biggest sleepers at the position. Heading into his junior year, he has a chance to prove that he belongs in the upper tier of what's set to be a strong 2021 class overall.

“He needs way more attention than what he’s getting right now. I understand that everyone’s excited about the big name, Power 5 running backs in this group, but I think for the teams that are willing to wait a little later, he’ll be a steal for someone later on.” – AFC Scout

Question: I want to go all the way back. How did your football journey originally start?

Patterson: My parents put me and my twin brother in organized sports around seven years old. It was something that we fell in love with. We played track and basketball, but it was football that really stuck with us. We both ended up playing it all the way through college.

Q: Transitioning to your high school career, you were an incredible player at St. Vincent Pallotti High School, but you weren’t heavily recruited. Why was that?

P: Coaches were probably scared of my size at the position. Outside of that, I can’t really tell you. My senior year, I thought that I would get a little more and bigger looks. Coaches always used to say that he’s a good player, but he’s not big enough. I heard that from several ACC, Big Ten, and SEC coaches.

Q: During my research about you, I stumbled across this performance that you had against Riverdale Baptist where you had almost 600 total yards and your team scored 41 straight points to win the game in overtime, so tell me a little bit about that game and story.

P: It was crazy. That was senior night of my senior year. They had a lot of Division I talent and we did as well. It’s crazy how that game played out. The Penn State staff was actually there. James Franklin flew in on a helicopter on the field because they had a recruit playing in the game named Tariq Castro-Fields. I really just wanted to go out with a bang and they kept scoring. We were down 21-0 and I told my coaches, I got us. We're going to win this game. I blacked out after that and the rest was history with that game. 

Q: You mentioned Buffalo frequently and that’s where you ended up choosing to attend college, but did you ever imagine yourself there initially?

P: I had heard of it plenty before because I had a coach who coached me that went there and he used to talk about it all the time and how they won there. They won a MAC championship there and he introduced me to guys like Khalil Mack, James Starks, and Brandon Oliver. Mack actually came to our high school the year he was entering the draft. His old stories were a great recruiting tool and it worked out for the best and I’m blessed to be here today. 

Q: You hit the ground running as an instant impact player. You then go on to have the magical season as a sophomore with nearly 1,800 yards, but why was choosing Buffalo one of the best decisions that you have made in your life?

P: It just fits me. The people, the school, the environment, the community, and the city made up of blue collar people that are just hard workers fits me. The coaches, the players, and support staff... I couldn’t be in a better place. I’m grateful and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation with coming here. 

Q: What would you say is your biggest strength(s) as a player and then what are some things that you want to add to your game?

P: My biggest strengths are my contact balance. Being my mass and with a low center of gravity, it creates advantages against tacklers and making people miss. My weakness, I feel like I can show off a little bit more of my versatility. That’s what I did in high school. I can line up in the slot and many other things. I want to show that I’m much more than just a running back and can do many more things. 

Q: When mentioning your name to NFL scouts, there were two names that came up most frequently. Doug Martin and Devonta Freeman. Who are some guys that you model your game after?

P: I liked and watched both of those guys growing up, but there’s a lot. I try to study all of the greats. I’m a big Barry Sanders guy. I love how he was able to make people miss. I’m a big Ezekiel Elliott fan. Saquon Barkley is another, but I like to study other backs that play similar to me and some things that I can potentially add to my game.

Q: MACtion has taken on a name of itself because it is so unique due to the Wednesday night games. Is that something that took a while to get used to?

P: Like you said, it’s kind of unique that you get to play on a midweek day that no other conferences play on. It’s called MACtion for a reason. I think that shows how special this conference is. I really enjoy playing them then and I’m looking forward to playing on Wednesday. This is a big opportunity for both teams and for the conference to continue to get that exposure. 

Q: Going into this season, what would you say are some important goals for Jaret Patterson?

P: My main one is to help my team win a MAC championship. Whatever it takes. I’m not going to sit here and say how many yards or touchdowns that I want to have. Just know that every game, I am going to give 110% and whenever my number’s called, I’m going to do my best to help my team win. I’m going to be the best me that I can be.

Scouting Report

Size: 5-foot-9, 195, Junior

Positives (+)

Patterson is a do-it-all running back who’s gotten off to a historic start during his career. He possesses a compact build, but is often a high runner when in the clear. He displays plenty of variance with his running style and can change up depending on the matchup. Patterson is highly effective in between the tackles and in tight spaces where he's shown to be capable of maneuvering his way through multiple levels of trash in order to come out clean. He plays with caution when it comes to ball security and often keeps the ball high and tight. One of his best attributes is his lower half and footwork—they always remain hot, active, and ready. Combined with his sufficient contact balance, he’s able to create extra opportunities that weren’t originally present because of his strong frame overall. An easy hands-catcher out of the backfield, he can frequently become involved in the passing game.

Negatives (–)

While racking up lots of yardage, Patterson doesn’t have a lot of gears to his speed package. His ability to create hidden yardage enables him to take advantage of yardage that’s there and as a result he’s able to outrace defenders soon afterwards, but there isn’t considerable amounts of separation created. Patterson is more of a build-up runner than an instant accelerator who can run away from the opposition.

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