Switching from wide receiver to cornerback in midseason as a true freshman and holding one’s own is the football equivalent of switching from physics to calculus halfway through the semester.
It would require great determination and a quick mind to pull off either feat. Daymond Patterson, a 5-foot-9, 175-pounder from Mesquite, Texas, has both, and he has sprinter’s speed.
A member of the National Honor Society, Patterson earned academic all-state honorable mention as senior at North Mesquite High. His study habits have eased his midseason transition from offense to defense.
“If you’re lazy in the classroom, you’re going to be lazy on the field,” Patterson said. “Everything goes hand in hand. People carry the same traits on and off the field. I’ve always worked a lot on keeping my grades up. My parents always stayed on me a lot about my grades.”
The Big 12 schedule keeps constant pressure on cornerbacks, especially those who play for teams such as Kansas that don’t rush the passer with any regularity. Patterson has played four games at cornerback: Texas Tech, Kansas State, Nebraska and Texas.
Next up: Missouri, Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“You have to study a lot of guys,” Patterson said of preparing for Missouri. “(Jeremy) Maclin, (Chase) Coffman, (Danario) Alexander, (Tommy) Saunders, then they sub people in. Then they come with a lot of formations. You have a lot to study when it comes to the Missouri offense.”
Mental preparation doesn’t intimidate him.
“I like studying,” he said. “It makes you a better player. It slows the game down for you overall. Sometimes, when you study, when you’re out on the field, you’ll know what play is coming just from alignments and formations.”
Patterson said his best game was his most recent one, when he was credited with three pass break-ups against Texas. Cornerbacks coach Je’Ney Jackson agreed that it was his best effort.
“You know what, that little guy, the thing he has is, he’s fast, he’s quick, he’s got a good football aptitude,” Jackson said. “He understands what offenses are trying to do, route combinations, and it helps him a bunch. The speed factor is the thing that helps him the most. If he gets behind, he can make up and have pretty darn good coverage even if he’s gotten beat a little bit.”
Patterson says “yes, sir,” and “thank you” regularly during interviews and gives off the impression he is bent on self-improvement. In a football season that to this point has been a letdown, Patterson represents one of the encouraging developments for the program.
He started the year as productive receiver but fumbled too much and didn’t block as well as veterans. When Dexton Fields returned from injury, Patterson’s time at receiver vanished, and he became a full-time punt returner.
All that speed grounded, Patterson stood and watched slower players run by him on the sideline. Meanwhile, the KU secondary got torched, looking so slow in the process. Two plus two equaled four, and Patterson found his way onto the field as a starting cornerback.