Army football's Edriece Patterson aims to fill mentor's role
By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: August 11, 2018
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Edriece Patterson fired off from a defensive stance, kept his hips and legs moving and stood up an attempted blocker.
Patterson's repetition may have looked like just another preseason board drill to some. To Army's coaching staff, it was another encouraging sign of the sophomore's rise.
Coaches look at Patterson's 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame and see a pass rusher. But Patterson's long arms, which help shed offensive lineman, and his athleticism could make him an effective run stopper and a potential every-down defensive end — just like graduated three-year starter John Voit.
Voit, the 2017 captain, often was the only lineman on the field during passing situations.
"He's probably one of the better athletes, if not maybe the best athlete just from a natural skill set that he has on the defensive line," Army defensive line coach Chad Wilt said of Patterson. "I think he has the ability to play multiple positions for us like John did. ... When we get in some longer-yardage packages, he can still stay out on the field."
When Patterson visited Army before his senior season at Rahway (N.J.) High, Voit was one of the first players that he met. Patterson and Voit stayed in contact. Army was Patterson's first offer. He committed to the Black Knights and attended the U.S. Military Academy Prep School. Voit became Patterson's mentor during his freshman season last year.
"John became a big brother to me," Patterson said. "He taught me a lot. He's done a lot for this program. He played a little bit his freshman year then he started ever since. I'm just looking forward to be able to fill his shoes. It's definitely a privilege and definitely an honor."
Wilt said it may take multiple players to fill Voit's responsibilities. The line coach leaves a message on his board in the defensive line's meeting room that reads, "I'm looking for 10 men that I can count on." Patterson and sophomore defensive ends Jack Hough and Ted Wages are working to make Wilt's list.
"That's what I'm trying to build," Wilt said. "I'm excited to see lots of young men progressing. It's their time now. Welcome to the world of college football. Young men graduate and young men have to step up. And that's where we are."
Patterson continues to gain confidence with every practice. He's a different player mentally than a year ago. Patterson came out of summer Beast Barracks training 15 pounds lighter at 235. He's back to his regular playing weight. Coach Jeff Monken said Patterson is going to get bigger. So is Patterson's role.
"This year, I feel there's more on my plate," Patterson said. "I'm a year in under this defense so I should be able to handle everything much better and I expect more from myself just like the coaches. I'm just more conditioned."
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