Patterson is the 1
DeRon Middleton looked in
Zaire PattersonEyes the first time Patterson visited Clemson campus, and he knew it. He knew that Clemson was a dream come true for his young defensive end.
Patterson, a four-star defensive end from Winston-Salem (N.C.) Prep announced his commitment to Clemson Tuesday afternoon, the 13th pledge for the Tigers in 2021 recruiting class (and the second defensive end). Clemson, South Carolina and North Carolina were the finalists.
Middleton, the head coach at Winston-Salem Prep, said the Tigers get the whole package with Patterson.
“As a person, Clemson gets a kind, loving young man who just wants to be part of the family,” Middleton said. “He wants to know part of the family and part of society. He has been with me for the last three or four years. On my staff and our football team we have ‘OTF – Own the Family. He is a smart kid and education is really important to him. He wants to become an engineer. He will probably graduate from high school in the top three in this class with a 3.7 or 3.8 GPA. That’s the kind of person he is.
“The kind of player they will get, they will get a dog. In my opinion, he is the number one pass rusher in the nation. He can really come after a quarterback. To be his size and height, he has bent like no other and gone off like no other. He is an elite talent. Clemson and Coach Venables will put him in the right position to play because they have the players around him to make him better. “
Middleton said Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables has not tipped his hand about how he will use Patterson, but Middleton has an idea.
“Not much, but I’ve seen what they’ve done with Isaiah Simmons and other players before. Zaire has that kind of skillset, “Middleton said. “With Zaire as such a smart kid, he knows what his ability is, so last season we played him a lot at linebacker outside and he ended up with four catches and returned two for touchdowns. I think one of them was a 75-yard touchdown, so he has it in his arsenal now. He can rush passers by. He also has some running abilities as well, so he is very versatile. Clemson will be a great place for him. “
Middleton said he knew Patterson would liquidate a Tiger.
“When I first met Zaire, his dream school was Clemson. He wanted to go to Clemson, Middleton said. “He thought Clemson would be a great place for him. He ended up doing his research at school, studying school, understanding what they were doing on defense, seeing if they had their degree in engineering. At his first visit to Clemson, his eyes said a lot. He was very impressed with Clemson. “
Patterson is not just a physical presence on the pitch, he understands the mental part of the game.
“He’s a very smart football player. He knows when to go and when not to go, Middleton said. “He knows how to turn it on and off. Sometimes it can be to his disadvantage. He is an elite talent and sometimes kids just can’t block him. When it’s time to go – we have a thing called “money” and our defensive coordinator will call “money” and he knows it’s time to get the quarterback. His first year he had 17 sacks and last year he had 11. It just went down because he wanted to focus more on catching uplifts. We have another defensive end that took about four of his sacks, so they were in a contest. “
Clemson’s 13-man class is ranked third on the 247Sports Composite ranking behind Ohio State (18 commitments) and Tennessee (24).
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