UB star running back Jaret Patterson announced in an emotional tweet Tuesday that he will forgo his senior season to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.
Patterson, a junior from Glendale, MD, thanked the university for “helping to shape me into the man I am today.” He also thanked his teammates for forming a “brotherhood and bond that can never be broken” and praised them for “battling through adversity” and helping “rewrite the record books.”
“After much prayer, consideration and speaking with my family, I have decided to forgo my senior season and enter the 2021 NFL Draft,” Patterson tweeted. “I am eager and excited to pursue my dream of earning a position in the NFL. I will be #ForeverABull.”
Patterson had one of the most remarkable campaigns in recent mid-major history, despite only playing in six games.
The 5-9, 195 lb. tailback rushed for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He also led the nation in average rushing yards per game, with 178.6, and ranked third in yards per carry, with 7.6. He sat out the Camellia Bowl against Marshall after sustaining a right knee injury.
In a Week 4 game against Kent State, Patterson turned in one of the greatest performances in college football history. Wearing the late Solomon Jackson’s No. 41, Patterson rushed for 409 yards and an FBS record-tying eight touchdowns. He also received attention from NBA star LeBron James and trended in the top 20 on Twitter.
“We’re happy for Jaret and his family,” UB head coach Lance Leipold said in a statement. “His accolades on the field speak for themselves, yet it is his leadership and the way he represents our program that will ultimately help him succeed at the next level. We are thankful for all he has done for our program and he will forever be a Bull.”
Patterson’s NFL intentions are clear, but his draft position isn’t.
When he was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press this week, he became just the second UB player to receive the honor, after Chicago Bears star Khalil Mack, who earned the designation in 2013.
But he is ranked anywhere from No. 93 by CBS Sports to No. 165 by Pro Football Focus to No. 187 by the Draft Network in the pre-draft rankings. All that can change depending on his performance in the scouting combine, but that suggests he could be a mid- or late-round pick.
UB senior wide receiver Antonio Nunn also announced he will be preparing for the draft in a tweet Tuesday. The Tampa native was named second-team All-MAC after posting 584 yards and two touchdowns in seven games this season.
Senior defensive end Malcolm Koonce (No. 142 on the Draft Network) and senior left tackle Kayode Awosika (No. 483) are also expected to catch the attention of pro teams in April’s draft, but Patterson is the cream of UB’s crop.
Junior running back Kevin Marks will lead the way for the Bulls at tailback next season if he chooses to return to UB. The Norfolk, VA native has good size (6-0, 205 lb.) and rushed for 741 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games. He was the feature back in the Camellia Bowl, with Patterson out of the lineup.
“To the best fans in college football, your screams each week motivated us to perform beyond our own expectations,” Patterson wrote. “I’ll forever bleed blue.”
Justin Weiss is the managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald. He can be found on Twitter @Jwmlb1.