The pipeline between Laurel and the University of Buffalo football program continues to bear fruit, with surprising contributions this year from a pair of true freshmen.
Freshmen Jaret and James Patterson, twin brothers and former St. Vincent Pallotti High School standouts, have been just two reasons why the Bulls have won 10 of 12 games this season after a 6-6 record last year.
“Everyone is buying in,” said Jaret Patterson, a key running back this year. “Everyone is playing for each other. It has been like a family.”
That is certainly true for the Patterson brothers, who grew up in Glen Dale near Bowie.
Jaret Patterson rushed for 2,045 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior at Pallotti, a private school in Laurel.
His brother James was a key linebacker for the Panthers and one of his head coaches at Pallotti was Ian Thomas, a former linebacker at DeMatha Catholic High and the University of Illinois.
The brothers followed in the footsteps of Laurel resident Justin Mulbah, who committed to the Bulls program while at Pallotti and is now a red-shirt sophomore linebacker for the Bulls.
So the Patterson brothers already knew someone at Buffalo, and they wanted to attend the same college.
“That played a key factor in our decision,” said Jaret Patterson. “We always wanted to go to the same school together. We wanted to go to a school that worked best for us.”
The Bulls have certainly relied offensively on Jaret Patterson, who has rushed for 914 yards on 150 carries with 12 touchdowns this season.
He helped Buffalo (10-2) win the Mid-American Conference East title Nov. 23 when he rushed for 88 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run, in a 44-14 win over Bowling Green.
Buffalo will play for the MAC title against Northern Illinois on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in Detroit.
“There’s a different time for different backs,” head coach Lance Leipold told reporters after a game earlier this season. “But he made some plays and saw some creases and then, of course, made it happen.”
He had a season-high 187 yards on 18 attempts in a 48-14 win on Nov. 6 against Kent State.
Patterson ran for at least 90 yards in five straight games in one stretch.
“My mindset coming in was, I wanted to contribute anyway I could,” he said. “I am just grateful for the opportunity.”
The running backs coach for Buffalo is Andy Kotelnicki.
“He is very detailed. He wants you to do the right thing,” Patterson said.
James Patterson is second on the team in tackles (63) through 12 games.
Buffalo is a member of the MAC and several of the conference games late in the season are played on weeknights. That allows the games to be televised nationally and fans are able to see some high-scoring thrillers.
“It has been great,” Patterson said of playing under the lights. “You have to love it; I just love this conference.”
The Patterson brothers were part of a title team in the MIAA with Pallotti.
Jaret Patterson once accumulated 558 all-purpose yards in one game against Riverdale Baptist, gaining 282 yards on the ground, 54 receiving, 124 on kick returns and 98 yards on an interception return. He was a four-time all-conference player and all-state honorable mention performer for the Laurel school.
The Pallotti-Buffalo connections goes beyond the three current players on the roster.
The Patterson brothers and Mulbah played at Pallotti when Justin Winters was an assistant coach there.
Winters is a 2007 graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt and played at Buffalo under former coach Turner Gill, a standout at the University of Nebraska and the head coach at Liberty in Virginia.
The Buffalo roster also includes sophomore defensive tackle Chibueze Onwuka, who also played at Eleanor Roosevelt High and is from Bowie.
Now, Buffalo has a chance to win the MAC title and is Bowl eligible with several Maryland players.
“It is definitely a dream come true,” Jaret Patterson said.