November 25, 2009 5:18:00 PM
Noxubee County High School coach M.C. Miller believes it''s just a matter of time before wide receiver Pat Patterson does the things he did as a Tiger in Macon at the University of Mississippi.
Patterson has been looking for more playing time as the season has progressed for the Rebels.
Although not satisfied with where he is, Patterson understands a freshman isn''t supposed to play too much too soon.
"I''ve been getting a lot of reps on the field, but wasn''t expecting to do too much this year," Patterson said. "I have been looking for that experience on the field."
Patterson will have one more opportunity in the regular season at 11:21 a.m. Saturday (WCBI) when Ole Miss plays at Mississippi State.
After Rivals.com and Scout.com rated him the No. 1 player in the state out of high school, Patterson has been slow to figure into the Rebels'' offensive plans.
He is the team''s fifth-leading receiver with 11 catches for 163 yards and one touchdown, a 29-yard catch against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 19.
It''s far short of the 73 passes he caught for 1,287 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior and the 72 receptions for 1,424 yards and 18 touchdowns he had as a junior in high school.
Miller witnessed all of the great things Patterson did for the Tigers and is confident he''ll continue to adjust with the Rebels.
"He did a super job for me and he''ll do the same thing for Ole Miss," Miller said. "It''s just going to take time to get things situated. They''ve got great things planned for him. It''s just a matter of him getting used to the plays and the system. It''s just good for him to be doing what he''s doing now. It''s just a matter of waiting until his time comes."
Patterson, who has played in 10 games (two starts), is trying to be patient.
"I see myself playing a lot more as the years come," Patterson said. "With me getting experience this year, I''ll be able to play a lot better next year."
Patterson''s best game of the season was his four-catch, 79-yard outing against Southeastern Louisiana.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Patterson shows "tremendous hands" and the ability to jump over a defender to make a catch.
"You can see why he was such a highly recruited athlete," Nutt said. "This guy is going to be a very good receiver. He''s going to be an All-SEC type of receiver one day."
After making two catches for 17 yards against Northern Arizona on Nov. 7, Patterson hasn''t had a catch in the past two games.
Nutt said Patterson has made progress, but it still could be a while before he reaches his full potential.
"He has learned this is a fast game and the corners and everybody is better than they were when you played on Friday night, but I''ve been really pleased with Pat," Nutt said. "We think there are much brighter days ahead for Pat and can be a guy we will really lean on."
Patterson believes his main area to improve on is running routes. He said Nutt and offensive coordinator Kent Austin have done a good job of encouraging him this season.
"They''ve been telling me to keep my head up because I will have a bright future here at Ole Miss," Patterson said.
It''s pretty much the same message Miller has given him. The two visited prior to the season opener against Memphis, a game Miller attended.
"Coach Miller means a lot to me," Patterson said. "He told me whenever things go wrong to just hang in there and stay focused."
On the day Patterson signed with the Rebels, high school teammate Dontae Skinner decided to stay home and sign with the Bulldogs.
Skinner, a freshman linebacker who is being redshirted this season, has kept up with Patterson. He expects to seek out Patterson prior to Saturday''s game to talk and shake hands.
"You never lose the fact that you have a good friendship, so we stay in touch," Skinner said. "We always talk about (Patterson''s playing time) and he seems satisfied with it."
Miller will be an interested spectator when the Rebels and Bulldogs meet. He knows how important the game will be for Patterson.
"I know he''s really looking forward to it," Miller said. "Anytime Mississippi State and Ole Miss play, that''s a big game, and everyone likes that. If you are playing on a team or if you just live in the community or in Mississippi, that makes it big."
Patterson has been getting calls from people "talking a lot of noise" and said Skinner gave him a friendly warning about the atmosphere at MSU''s Davis Wade Stadium.
"He told me it''s going to be crazy this weekend," Patterson said.
n McCluster named to SEC Community Service Team: At Birmingham, Ala., Senior running back Dexter McCluster was named Wednesday to the SEC Football Community Service Team. The conference highlights a student-athlete from each school who gives back to their community in superior service efforts.
A captain from Largo, Fla., McCluster speaks and participates in reading programs at Oxford area schools. He is a volunteer with the annual National Student-Athlete Day Community Service Project and the "As We Grow" Summer Fitness Program.
In March, McCluster has took part in the "Arts for the Angels" charity performance for Angel Ranch, with all proceeds going to benefit temporarily displaced children who are in the protective custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. During game week at the 2009 AT&T Cotton Bowl, he also visited with children at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.
On the field, McCluster leads the Rebels with 903 rushing yards. He needs 97 yards to become just the fourth Rebel all-time to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. McCluster set the Ole Miss single-game rushing record earlier this season with a 282-yard, four-touchdown outburst against Tennessee.