stevens

Roanoke Rapids lineman Patterson says he's ready to sign

Roanoke Rapids senior choosing UNC on merit, not carousel of coaches

tstevens@newsobserver.comJanuary 29, 2012 

Roanoke Rapids High lineman J.J. Patterson is ready to sign.

A lot has happened since he committed to former University of North Carolina coach Butch Davis last summer. Patterson, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound senior, is on his third UNC head coach and he hasn't even officially joined the Tar Heels.

Davis offered Patterson a scholarship, which Patterson unofficially accepted; then-interim Carolina coach Everett Withers maintained contact throughout last season; and one of new coach Larry Fedora's first tasks was calling Patterson to assure him that the new staff had a scholarship for him and really wants him at UNC.

Patterson expects to sign the national letter of intent that officially binds him to the Tar Heels on Wednesday.

"I've not had any second thoughts about my decision any of the time," Patterson said. "I didn't choose Carolina because of the coach. I looked at the education, the academic programs and everything else. I knew Carolina would have a good football program."

He said he had grown up as a Carolina fan and football is allowing him a chance to go to school there.

"I knew I wanted to go to college and this scholarship is going to allow me to go," he said.

Patterson was relieved when Fedora renewed Carolina's sponsorship offer. Verbal commitments are not binding on the school or the athlete and more than one high school athlete has found themselves left without a scholarship in the wake of a coaching change.

"Coach Fedora seemed to be a good guy," Patterson said. "He is enthusiastic and excited. He reminds me a lot of my high school coach (Russell Weinstein). I'm excited about having the chance to play."

Patterson doesn't know if UNC will use him on offense or defense. He really doesn't care. "I've played both my whole life," he said. "I just want to be where I can help the team."

He said any uncertainty about the program as Carolina waits for NCAA rulings on allegations of violations is way in the background for him.

"I just don't think much about those things at all," he said. "I'm excited that I get to go to college."

Summers decision: Greensboro Page High quarterback James Summers told WFMY in Greensboro that the offensive set of new coach Larry Fedora was a factor in Summers switching his commitment from N.C. State to North Carolina.

Asked what led to his decision to change, Summers told WFMY, "The new offense that they run over there, and the competition there, I feel like it's a better place for me to go on with my career -- and have a better chance to make things happen up there."

Recruiting analyst Chad Simmons of Scout.com said Fedora must have made a connection with Summers.

"Something clicked," Simmons said. "Larry Fedora is young and up-and-coming. He was able to build a relationship very quickly."

About a week ago, Summers' commitment to State was called "rock solid" after he made his official visit to the Wolfpack.

ACC trails: According to the Scout.com conference rankings, the ACC as a whole isn't bringing in a highly regarded football recruiting class. The ACC is fifth behind the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten in the current Scout.com conference rankings.

The rankings will change on signing day, of course, but Miami's class is ranked No. 6 in the country. Clemson, Florida State and Virginia are in the top 25 at Nos. 11, 13 and 24, respectively.

The rest of the league are Virginia Tech (30), Maryland (39), North Carolina (42), N.C. State (t49), Georgia Tech (51), Duke (68), Wake Forest (70) and Boston College (72).

Scout.com has East Carolina's class ranked 11th in Conference USA and 103rd overall.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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