When Ole Miss announced a self-imposed a bowl ban this season, as part of multiple investigations that have led to 21 NCAA violations, many wondered if there would be an exodus of players from Oxford.
While it's untold how many -- if any -- players will leave the program, there is one key player who is staying put: Quarterback Shea Patterson.
The soon-to-be sophomore, who started the final three games in 2016 after an injury to Chad Kelly, took to Twitter on Saturday, to quiet any rumors of his departure.
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20 is ready to go..I love my school, coaches, teammates and our fans and I can't wait for the 2017 season together! Let's go! #HottyToddy— Shea Patterson (@SheaPatterson_1) February 26, 2017
Hugh Freeze didn't hesitate to weigh-in and offer his support.
You will be a great leader https://t.co/In9WAIehUa— Hugh Freeze (@CoachHughFreeze) February 26, 2017
This is huge news for the Ole Miss program, for a number of different reasons.
For starters, Patterson is a superb talent. Coming out of high school he was a consensus five-star player, rated by some as the best quarterback in the class of 2016.
Beyond that: The Rebels need him. This is a school that finished 5-7 last year, and was a total dud on the recruiting trail this year. Coach Hugh Freeze went so far as to admit how the looming NCAA investigation had hurt recruiting efforts. It is totally understandable why the ban would be a turnoff.
And no one could have blamed Patterson if he decided to leave. Remember, former five-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham announced he was leaving Baylor last year after Art Briles was fired, and other players have left other schools (Penn State, USC) when NCAA sanctions hit and bowl bans were handed out. While Ole Miss obviously self-imposed its ban (NCAA punishment awaits) it would have been easy for Patterson to start over elsewhere.
Instead he'll stick by his program, at the moment it needs him most.