The North Carolina Tar Heels 2012 recruiting class is not one to marvel at. New head coach Larry Fedora had a very late start to things and did his best to salvage an unimpressive overall class. In a new series at Keeping It Heel we’re reintroducing you to the 2012 class as we get ready for the season.
First up in the series is defensive tackle, or maybe he’s an offensive tackle, or both JJ Patterson. Patterson is a four star prospect out of Roanoke Rapids, NC one of the few in state recruits for Carolina in the 2012 class. Patterson played both DT and OT in high school and could end up on either side of the ball at Chapel Hill. If he ends up playing offense he’s likely to slide inside to guard where his 6-4, 310 pound frame would fit better. Patterson was an elite run blocker with tons of raw power but struggled to get past the second level.
On defense, Patterson is a true anchor on the DL. He’s able to utilize his strength and quickness as a terrific bull rusher up the middle. Pursuit is not his game and if blockers can slow him down, he easily wears down. Needs improvement changing directions and running sideline to sideline. A terrific space eater who can take up multiple blockers at once freeing up teammates to make the play.
I see Patterson ultimately ending up on the offensive side of the ball as a OG. His size and lack of great lateral movement limit him defensively and make him a better fit at OG than OT. Fedora is the type of coach that doesn’t shy away from playing kids at multiple positions. So expect Patterson to get a look on the DL as well.
The two-time Northern Carolina 2-A Conference Lineman of the Year played tackle and defensive tackle at Roanoke Rapids, but was considered one of the top guard prospects in the nation for a reason. Playing against inferior opponents in high school masked some of Patterson’s weaknesses and allowed him to play positions better suited for more athletic players. At the college level Patterson could peak when his strengths are brought out more by playing what appears to be his most natural position, OG.