In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a dynamic defender with a knack for creating turnovers, and being a staunch last line of defense: Hollywood (FL) Chaminade-Madonna 4-star S Zaquan Patterson.
With multiple previous blue chip recruits in the secondary primed to move on to the NFL, the Miami Hurricanes were well aware that a reload of talent was necessary. To fit that need, they turned the recruiting attention toward Hollywood (FL) Chaminade-Madonna S Zaquan Patterson.
One of the linchpins of Chaminade’s championship defense, the 6’0” 185lb Patterson has long been a top tier playmaker. Patterson started making a name for himself with the Miami Gardens Ravens optimist team as a youth alongside several other blue chip players in this class, and on his current HS team.
After beginning his HS career at TRU prep — where he was invited to the Freshman All-American Bowl and named top performer at the event, by the way — Patterson transferred to Chaminade-Madonna as a sophomore and immediately made his impact felt. Starting on defense (and moonlighting on offense as well), Patterson posted 69 tackles, 4 sacks, and an interception, along with blocking 3 punts and a FG for State Champion Chaminade.
Patterson’s elite play continued as a junior. He AGAIN posted 69 tackles (nice x2), but this time added 2 interceptions and 4 blocked punts for Chaminade as they, again, marched through the season and emerged as State Champions.
Through these 2 years, Patterson garnered tons of scholarship offers. Chaminade is a well-known football and recruiting powerhouse, and Patterson was one of many players in the 2023 class who were highly coveted. Ohio State, Alabama, Miami, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida State, Notre Dame, LSU and many more teams extended offers to Patterson through and after his junior year.
During that junior year, Patterson started taking unofficial visits. The first was to Auburn, but further visits to Miami, Florida State, Ohio State, LSU, and Auburn (again) covered the spring for the rising-senior star. After naming that same group as his top 5, Patterson would go on to visit Florida State and Auburn (AGAIN), as well as Michigan. But, through it all, Miami was steadfast in their communication, and maintained momentum with Patterson.
The draw of the hometown Hurricanes was too strong for the All-American Bowl (formerly Army All-American Bowl) defender, and Patterson made a somewhat shocking commitment to Miami in August ahead of his senior year. I say somewhat shocking because multiple other teams received multiple known visits, and several recruiting writers had Patterson to Auburn as a done deal. They were wrong, and that’s a good thing for the Canes.
As a senior, Patterson continued to play at a high level. And, in doing so, he helped his teammates at Chaminade win their 3rd consecutive FHSAA State Championship. For the year, Patterson had 50 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 10 PBUs, and a blocked FG. One of his pick-6’s was this incredible play from a game against Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Cardinal Gibbons, a program that has won State in recent years and put several players in P5 schools. I would describe it, but I’ll let the video do the talking.
Recent #Canes commit @PattersonZaquan steals the ball from Gibbons receiver Antonio Lindsay and returns it 35 yards for a TD. @Nadeboyz lead 14-4. 5:13 left 2nd. @HeraldSports @DBWilson2 @smillerdegnan pic.twitter.com/k1sBpicuxh— Andre Fernandez (@FernandezAndreC) September 1, 2023
Yeah. That’ll work.
On the 247sports composite, Patterson is a 4-star prospect, the #5 S nationally, #12 in the State of Florida, and #70 player overall in this class.
Patterson committed to Miami over a robust list of 28 scholarship offers from around the country, which included Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma, to name a few.
As A Player
Patterson has good size for a safety. 6’0” 185lbs with room to add some (not too much) weight. Would I love it if he grew an inch or two? Yes. But even if he doesn’t, he’s plenty big enough to play this spot.
The main thing that stands out for me is the fact that Patterson understands he plays the last line of defense. His first instinct is to protect the endzone, then move forward to make plays, when they present themselves. This can be closing down space on receivers in the middle of the field, or getting downhill fast in run support.
Patterson lines up all over the place in HS, and he could be used in several spots in college as well. He’s a willing and physical run defender, but he’ll have to use angles more than strength to maintain his impact in college, as TEs and OL that will block him are bigger.
In coverage, Patterson is comfortable in space. He, again, thinks to defend deep first before moving toward the play. That’s an essential trait for a safety, and something that, when lacking, saw Miami give up points quickly in 2023. Patterson shows good technique in man-to-man coverage as well. However, his lack of size will make him a target in the middle of the field when assigned to cover bigger TEs.
The other thing that you cannot overlook is the fact that Patterson is a MONSTER on special teams. With nearly double digit kicks blocked in his HS career, and plenty of times when he’s made strong, physical tackles as a gunner on kick return, Patterson being a standout player on specials in college is something I look forward to seeing.
For another look at Patterson, here’s an eval from 247sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins:
A hard-hitting defender that has played mostly safety on Friday nights, but could eventually grow into a three-down linebacker. Made a name for himself as a youngster in the local parks for the Miami Garden Ravens before getting varsity snaps as a freshman at TRU Prep and then winning a pair of state titles as a sophomore and junior at Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna Prep. At his best when he’s asked to come downhill and make stops near the line of scrimmage as he’s a natural body striker that is quick to sift through traffic and meet the football. Has gotten more and more comfortable in both man and zone coverage over the years and has shown on the 7-on-7 circuit that he can hang with most large wide receivers and tight ends. Has assembled some of the best special teams highlights we have seen in recent years as he has blocked multiple punts and kicks at the prep level and flies down the field like a heat-seeking missile in both punt and kick coverage. Limited testing data makes it hard to paint the full picture, but should be viewed as a versatile back-seven defender with tweener measurables that could do a variety of different things and serve as a potential chess piece for a defensive coordinator. NFL upside in an era where so many teams want to spread it out.
- Championship pedigree (3 State Championships in HS)
- Positional knowledge
- Special Teams
- Moderate height
- Lacks elite speed
Note: changed this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player a few years ago and we’re continuing that style this year as well.
Both early on and throughout his HS career, Patterson should be a standout on special teams. That area of his game most readily translates to the collegiate level, and some players just have a knack for it. That seems to be the case here, and I hope Miami leverages his abilities in this way.
With Miami losing both starting safeties — Kamren Kinchens and James Williams — to the NFL, there is playing time to be had. Patterson should be able to find rotation snaps at Safety as a freshman, with a bigger role available if he proves himself ready, both physically and mentally.
Like Kamren Kinchens before him and Jaquan Johnson before him, Patterson is just a smart player with good skills who excels at playing safety. Whether it’s in 2024 or somewhere else down the line, it’s hard to envision a Miami Hurricanes defense where isn’t starting and making a big impact on games. However, if his progression is more moderate, Patterson should still be an ace special teams player and rotational defender in the secondary as well.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.