Listed Measurements: 6-foot-5, 300 pounds.
2019-20 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Patterson has all four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.
Depth chart: If everything goes as expected in the preseason, Patterson will start at center on Labor Day, a development very much unexpected as recently as the days leading into spring practice.
Recruiting: A rivals.com three-star prospect, Patterson de-committed from Arizona State to choose between Notre Dame and UCLA on National Signing Day, becoming the first recruit primarily chased by offensive line coach Jeff Quinn.
CAREER TO DATE
Patterson appeared at left tackle, his then-presumed position of the future, in three blowouts last season (Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Florida State).
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“[Patterson] will likely get some lip service as a possible guard candidate next spring with the exit of fifth-year left guard Alex Bars, but Patterson’s future is most likely at tackle, just not right away. Yet, he could be within the two-deep in 2019. Some combination of Lugg, Banks and sophomore Dillan Gibbons will likely fill the starter and backup roles at left guard next year. Presuming little other shuffling among the starters, Patterson could end up the primary backup at either tackle position, at which point he will be one rolled ankle away from protecting the starting quarterback.”
WELL, THAT WAS WRONG, SO WHAT WAS WRITTEN IN EARLY SPRING …
“Patterson spent parts of 2018 working at center on the scout team, per Kelly, and then he spent all of bowl prep at center. Beginning after the Cotton Bowl, the move was set, and Patterson and senior quarterback Ian Book have emphasized getting reps to build chemistry, hoping to make it ‘second nature,’ per Book.
“With six months to go before the snaps will come with genuine pressure, some inconsistency yet may be expected.”
Let’s use this moment to highlight two aspects of Patterson, one being what brought him into the starting lineup and the other being what work he needs to do to succeed there.
“He’s really calm, listens well,” Book said at the start of spring practices. “He’s having fun out there, but he’s an extremely hard worker. That’s what you want, especially at center. It’s hard to snap and block, getting the ball out at the same time. Just being able to get the reps with him, see that he’s out there with the ones having fun.”
Not to be reductive, but the challenges facing Patterson are exactly what Book referenced.
“Just learning the offense, snap and step on the right foot,” Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long said in early March. “… Just getting comfortable in that position making the calls and running the show. The more he does that, we’ll take all 15 practices. But he keeps getting better every day.”
Every word from Notre Dame in the spring was so definitive, it is hard to fathom an injury-free scenario where Patterson does not start at Louisville. It is reasonable to assume that week’s “Things To Learn” will feature a segment discussing how Patterson handles his first real pass rush and how he manages the protection calls. That latter dynamic will be more revealing, as the Cardinals defense should be, in a word, lacking. (When does one publish “Things to Learn” when the game is on a holiday Monday?)
Handling the calls will become more and more second-nature for Patterson, but it will assuredly take some time, and there will almost certainly be mistakes. That is what comes with a first-time starter at any position, let alone at the line’s fulcrum. But consistent progress should be considered a sign of success in this move.
DOWN THE ROAD
Will Patterson spend four years at center? Possibly, but not certainly. For one thing, early-enrolled freshman Zeke Correll was recruited specifically to work at center. Asking him to bide his time for four seasons feels like a misappropriation of resources. Furthermore, the Irish will need two tackles and a guard in two years. Moving an experienced Patterson to one of those spots and sliding a grown Correll into the middle could serve to develop the line best as possible in 2021.
Either situation is reasonable: Patterson becomes a career center, or he develops into a tackle. Forecasting two years ahead becomes difficult when this position switch was so unexpected just a few months ago.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star