HOOVER, Ala. — At least one analyst thinks Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson can be a dark-horse Heisman Trophy contender this season.
On Monday, SEC Network’s Marcus Spears said the sophomore can become a consideration for college football’s greatest award in the coming months with big numbers. It’s a bold prediction, given that Patterson only has 880 yards passing with six touchdowns and three interceptions in three career games at Ole Miss.
“I think Shea Patterson is a dark horse, believe it or not,” Spears told SEC Country when asked about the conference’s possible Heisman Trophy contenders in 2017.
“If you look at the guys around him, [offensive coordinator] Phil Longo is in there who’s going to highlight him. And just pure talent. You look at what he did in the last [three] games last year and you see people said that you see the resemblance of Johnny Manziel and what he’s able to do with the football. What people have to remember is, all of Hugh Freeze’s quarterbacks the last three seasons have had monster seasons.”
It remains to be seen if Patterson will produce a monster season this fall. He showed flashes of promise in 2016, when he finished with a 54.5 completion percentage. His best showing came in his debut in a victory over Texas A&M on Nov. 12, when he completed 25 of 42 passes for 338 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Patterson, who’s 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, arrived in Oxford with plenty of promise. The native of Shreveport, La., was a 5-star recruit and the No. 4 overall player for the Class of 2016.
It will be fascinating to follow Ole Miss this fall. After all the offseason drama involving an NCAA investigation, the Rebels will try to rebound after a disappointing 5-7 finish last year.
Spears, for one, envisions a large step forward for Patterson this season.
“If you look at the trajectory of what quarterbacks have done at Ole Miss, you think that if you plug a guy in, he’s going to have success,” Spears said. “Now you couple that with a special skillset and his ability to extend plays as well as anybody — it’s safe to say that he can do that. He could have those numbers that blow your mind. … Yeah, you can pad numbers pretty good at Ole Miss.”