A few days ago I mentioned in an article to take everything we see in spring football with a huge grain of salt. Now on literally after the first practice of spring 2019 we already have a surprise that looks more permanent than experiment. Rising sophomore Jarrett Patterson has shifted inside to center from tackle and was running with the first team offense.
Kudos to anyone who saw that coming, because I really don’t think anyone did.
Now, we did already learn that Avery Davis was moved to cornerback on Friday which was surprising in it’s own right, but not shocking given Davis had a hard time cracking the lineup last fall. We also found out that Chase Claypool was moving to the boundary receiver spot and Houston Griffith was moving to boundary corner. Again, neither surprising.
Brian Kelly was predictably asked on Saturday if Patterson was just holding down the position with Rhuland sidelined for practice. He was quick to state the move is expected to be permanent for the California native.
“No, no. He’s gonna play center for us,” Kelly said of Patterson. “(We) like his athleticism. Smart kid. The one thing that really stood out last year was: assignment correct, emotionally stable in a sense that every single day you got the same kid. We like that at the center position,” he added.
Patterson was originally recruited as a tackle late in the class of 2018 recruiting cycle and spent his freshman season playing on the edge of the Irish offensive line. Naturally, there will be some growing pains for Patterson moving inside and manning the center position, but the staff likes what they see so far.
“He’ll get some help from the guards in that they have some experience and will be able to call out somethings for him,” Kelly said. “We need to continue to work on his technique snapping the ball. Not that the ball was all over the place but we’ve got some work to do technique wise there,” he would add.
Utility Role in the Cards for Trevor Ruhland
Part of the reason Patterson made the move inside and will get the first crack at winning the starting center position is because the staff has more of a utility role in mind for 5th year senior Trevor Ruhland.
“Ruhland is going to be a guy who is going to be a utility player for us that can play the guard and center position,” said Kelly. “Quite frankly he’s got some things physically that make it difficult for him to play maybe 72 plays,” he revealed. “He’s going to be an important part for us moving forward for us.”
Make no mistake though, Jarrett Patterson looks like he very well could be the starting center for Notre Dame in 2019.
“Play in and play out we’re really grooming Jarrett (Patterson) to be in there for the long haul.”
Ruhland’s utility man role is just as surprising as Patterson’s move. Almost everyone assumed Ruhland was going to be the starter at center throughout the off-season, but it sounds like if he starts in 2019, it won’t be on a full-time basis. That role might fit him best as he excelled as a utility fill-in for Notre Dame in 2018 after the injury to Alex Bars threw the Irish offensive line into flux.
Zeke Correll & Luke Jones in the Mix Too
Also in the mix at center are early enrollee Zeke Correll and rising sophomore Luke Jones. Correll especially is one to watch because all signs point to him being another multi-year starter who ends up being a high draft pick. He’s a mauler and getting him on campus early was huge for Notre Dame. Starting a true freshman isn’t ideal, but Correll is not a normal freshman either.
Should Patterson end up locking down the starting center position, Jeff Quinn will deserve some props not just for getting him ready to start in his sophomore year, but in getting him on campus to begin with. Patterson was not committed to Notre Dame when Harry Hiestand announced that he was returning to the NFL and Quinn came in and quickly established a relationship with Patterson that ended up with the California native selecting Notre Dame on Signing Day last February.