Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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30 AUGUST 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED But Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn knew what they had in Patter- son, and realized they couldn't wait to give him a starting shot — even if tackle was the only position Patter- son had ever played before college. "That's the one thing Coach Quinn talks a lot about, he wants the five best guys on the field," Patterson explained in an interview late last season. "So if all five guys are tackles [out of high school], then two have to play guard and one has to play center. That is kind of his philosophy behind it." The idea of switching positions was presented to Patterson by the Irish coaches when the players re- turned to campus in January 2019 after winter break. Patterson stood little or no chance of dethroning ju- nior Robert Hainsey or senior Liam Eichenberg at either of the tackle spots, so why not give center a try? "I was perfectly fine with it," Pat- terson recalled. "Whatever it takes to help the team win is what was going through my mind at the time. It was really a smooth transition as well." Indeed it was. Patterson made the move to center look easy, securing the starting spot during the 2019 spring season and never looking back while he gradu- ally evolved into one of the best in the country at his new position. The athletic, 6-5, 300-pound Pat- terson started all 13 games. He didn't allow a sack and gave up only two quarterback hits in 854 snaps in 2019. Pro Football Focus, an analytics outlet that tracks every snap for every college player, rated Patterson as the No. 30 returning offensive lineman in the country for the 2020 season. "There wasn't a single game where [Patterson] allowed multiple pres- sures, and he ended up surrender- ing the seventh-lowest pressure rate among centers returning in 2020," PFF noted. Even with all the accolades, Pat- terson graded out his first season as a full-time starting center with mixed reviews. "I felt I did good at times. And at times, I felt I wasn't as consistent," Patterson admitted. "That's defi- nitely the biggest thing going into [2020] is just being more consistent." That said, Patterson — a standout player at Mission Viejo (Calif.) High near Los Angeles — explained that the transition from tackle to center went smoother than expected. "My athleticism, I feel like I can move pretty well laterally," he said of the strengths that made him such a quick study at center. "I think that's the biggest thing that served me well so far." When asked about his prime ad- justments last season after the posi- tion switch, Patterson said that learn- ing the shotgun snap came first, "but perfecting that was just about repeti- tion." Up next was becoming com- fortable with a different speed and style playing in the middle instead of on the edge. "You're in contact a lot faster at cen- ter instead of tackle," Patterson ex- plained. "Even in pass setting, you're going to be met with contact right away, so that was the biggest thing. "The first couple of days it felt a little fast but afterward, when you understand everything that is going on, the game slows down, so that was huge." ✦ MAKING IT LOOK EASY Jarrett Patterson adjusted nicely after moving from tackle to center Notre Dame The 'Perfect Fit' Jarrett Patterson found himself in a unique situation in January 2018 when he visited Notre Dame's campus as a recruit from Mission Viejo (Calif.) High during the two weeks between the departure of standout Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and the hiring of Jeff Quinn to fill the vacancy. But even with no position coach to meet with during his visit, Patterson still became sold on Notre Dame and eventually offered his pledge in early February, about two weeks after Quinn was hired. "It just felt right," Patterson recalled of his visit. "Coach Quinn wasn't hired yet but just being around the guys really did it for me and just kind of sold the school." Patterson — who initially committed to Arizona State after his junior season — saw his recruiting stock rise drastically as a senior. Couple that attention boost with some coaching turmoil at Arizona State, and Patterson had a change of heart, in no small part because of Quinn. "My parents really enjoyed [Quinn] during the recruiting process, which was obviously huge," said Patterson, who actually became the first ever offensive lineman to commit to Quinn at Notre Dame. "He just came off as someone who was really caring. "He's someone you go to, and you just sit in his office and he doesn't feel like a football coach. He just seems like a regular person to talk to. That was one of the biggest things for me." — Todd D. Burlage Patterson, who is Pro Football Focus' No. 30 returning offensive lineman in the country, didn't allow a sack and gave up only two quarterback hits in 854 snaps in 2019. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT BY TODD D. BURLAGE W ith only three career games under his belt at offensive tackle for Notre Dame as a freshman backup in 2018, Jarrett Patterson appeared to be the odd man out — surrounded by four returning starters on the Fighting Irish line — heading into last season. Then, suddenly, he became the center of attention. Although he never played the center position, he was asked to take the place of departed three-year starter Sam Mustipher. The fact that Mustipher was one of the best for the Irish at that posi- tion during the past decade and served as a captain didn't allay Patterson's nerves or flatten his learning curve.

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