Only three glimpses were given last year, but Shea Patterson brings to mind another electric presence from the SEC’s recent past.
It’s found in his mobility. It’s seen in his athletic skill. It’s presented to the world in his ability to improvise and tantalize.
Remember Johnny Manziel’s heyday when he toyed with defenses at Texas A&M? Remember that wild, wondrous show on turf that made it seem like a magic trick was possible at any moment?
One observer says Patterson can be better.
“Yeah, certainly if he’s mentally [strong],” Dan Shonka, a longtime NFL scout and general manager at Ourlads.com, told SEC Country. “Johnny fell apart between the ears.
“We worried about that with Manziel when he came out, just because he’s from money, and it didn’t matter to him. He could make decisions, and it didn’t matter. He made a lot of bad decisions, because nobody corralled him. His folks didn’t corral him. He did what he wanted to do, because he was immensely talented and obviously very immature. So now if we get maturity and things like that [from Patterson], I think the talent – he’s bigger. He’s bigger than Manziel. And there are some talent similarities.”
Of course, Manziel was the source of migraines for many defensive coordinators in his time with the Aggies from 2012-13. He threw for 7,820 yards and ran for 2,169. But those numbers only represent the main act’s curtain drop. They don’t reveal the charisma that was shown during his brief stint at Texas A&M, a time when Johnny Football was mystifying and a must-see presence all wrapped up into one dynamic package.
Patterson, meanwhile, has more to show to reach that bright of a spotlight. He threw for 880 yards and ran for 169 in three games as a freshman. But the potential to pop out on the national stage in a similar way, with the same fireworks, is there.
At 6-foot-2, Patterson stands taller than Manziel’s 6-1. Questions remain about Patterson’s future at Ole Miss, given the realities of the post-Hugh Freeze era in Oxford.
But the hype train for the former 5-star prospect has left the station, with at least one analyst saying it’s possible for Patterson to be a dark-horse contender for the Heisman Trophy this season.
Now it’s time to see if the young quarterback, like Manziel, can capture imaginations and cause headaches for everyone who stands in his way.
“You look at the guy and say, ‘Wow, this is a talented quarterback,’” Shonka said. “He’s mobile. He’s got good arm strength. He was very productive in those three games. I guess you would say the arrow is pointing up on him. He’s living up to that 5-star ability. But again, he had three games, and now you’ve got to see what he can do.”