Notre Dame’s Top 25 Most Important Players: No. 5, Jarrett Patterson
Throughout July, BlueandGold.com will feature a countdown of the 25 most pivotal figures counted on to help lead Notre Dame back to the College Football Playoff in 2021.
This is not necessarily about who is the best player or the top pro prospect. It’s more along the lines of individuals that need to either emerge, remain a centerpiece or significantly elevate their production to help Irish reach that goal.
Much is based on talent and impact, but a premium is also placed on these questions: 1) If you subtracted this individual from the roster, how much of a setback would it be? 2) If this less proven player emerges and makes an impact, how much does that raise the ceiling (or lower it, if a breakout does not happen as expected)?
The players and their rankings were determined by vote from five BlueandGold.com staff members.
Next in the countdown is senior offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson, who collected 104 points in our poll.
Why Patterson Is Ranked No. 5
There are two obvious reasons.
Notre Dame’s offensive line returns 31 starts. Patterson accounts for 21 of them and is the unit’s lone returning full-time starter. He’s also one of the better returning linemen in the country and was part of an elite front five before suffering a foot fracture in November. He has garnered some preseason All-America honors.
Patterson was Pro Football Focus’ sixth-highest graded center in college football last season before his injury eight games into the year. He has allowed just 16 quarterback pressures since 2019. He’s one of two returning Power Five interior linemen to not have allowed a sack in at least 650 career pass-blocking snaps, per PFF.
The Irish’s offensive line turnover and youth leaves a lot of room for uncertainty. In that context, Patterson’s experience and his consistency are crucial no matter what position he plays in 2021.
The 6-4½, 305-pound Patterson’s positional home is the only question surrounding his senior year. The most likely seems to be guard. Tackle or sticking at center, though, have not been formally ruled out. His ability to help wherever he ends up isn’t in doubt.
Patterson’s Status Entering The Season
The mystery of Patterson’s position didn’t get any clearer in the spring, which he missed while recovering from surgery to repair his foot injury. It added another wrinkle when Notre Dame added Marshall graduate transfer guard Cain Madden in June. Fall camp should be more revealing.
Patterson will land at whatever position allows Notre Dame to put its best five linemen on the field. He’s clearly one of them. It’s hard to think junior center Zeke Correll isn’t another — making a switch for Patterson seem likely.
Correll has worked only at center since his 2019 arrival and started twice last year after Patterson was hurt. He’s a former top-150 recruit Notre Dame has groomed as Patterson’s heir. Head coach Brian Kelly said in the spring Correll is the likely starting center.
But Kelly said in June Patterson’s best position is center. Is Notre Dame’s entire line better with him there and Correll waiting another year or making a position change? Or is it better with Patterson at guard or tackle, even if that may not be best for Patterson himself?
These are the questions Kelly, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn have to weigh when determining their starting five.
“What’s good for the five, what’s good for Notre Dame and what’s good for Jarrett Patterson?” Kelly said. “I have to look at all those. I have to look at what’s best for his future. We’ll get the right five guys.”
Kelly also said Madden’s arrival will affect the plans for Patterson. Freshman Blake Fisher’s emergence as a possible starting left tackle this spring did too. Notre Dame didn’t necessarily see either of those happening when it began spring practice. But Patterson’s versatility allows the Irish to adapt easily.
What Would Be A Successful Individual Season
In a season where Notre Dame should expect some ups and downs on the offensive line, it needs Patterson’s performance curve to be flat. And needs his play to be steadily high-level wherever he starts.
After two years without a sack allowed and less than one pressure surrendered per start, those numbers should be the expectation again.
As a returning starter and senior on an otherwise young line, there’s an expectation for him to be a leader and teacher. Notre Dame offensive linemen love to talk about passing down tradition and maintaining standards. After four starters from last year’s Joe Moore Award finalist group moved on, Patterson becomes one of the elder figures in the room.
“I don’t have any doubts he’s going to be able to do that,” departed right tackle Robert Hainsey said. “Jarrett is a no-nonsense guy. He’s going to do everything he has to do to get ready. If other guys take notice of the way Jarrett prepares, they’re going to be just fine.”
Behind The Ranking
The top 25 was determined in the same manner as the Associated Press top 25. Five BlueandGold.com staff members submitted their ballots, and each position on the ballot was given a point value. The top ranking was worth 25 points, No. 2 was worth 24, No. 3 worth 23 and so on down until No. 25, which was worth one point. The players with the 25 highest point totals made the list.
Patrick Engel: 6
Tyler Horka: 5
Mike Singer: 5
Todd Burlage: 7
Steve Downey: 3
Prior Top 25 Rankings
No. 25: Jonathan Doerer
No. 24: Marist Liufau
No. 23: Drew Pyne
No. 22: Braden Lenzy
No. 21: Jayson Ademilola
No. 20: Chris Tyree
No. 19: Avery Davis
No. 18: Josh Lugg
No. 17: Houston Griffith
No. 16: Cam Hart
No. 15: Zeke Correll
No. 14: Blake Fisher
No. 13: Kurt Hinish
No. 12: Jack Kiser
No. 11: Drew White
No. 10: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa
No. 9: Kevin Austin
No. 8: Clarence Lewis
No. 7: Cain Madden
No. 6: Isaiah Foskey
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