The recruiting cycle for the class of 2022 has been a wild ride. The Iowa Hawkeyes got off to a very solid start, but when things shut down due to COVID-19, the recruiting process sputtered for the Iowa staff. Unable to bring recruits on campus and build relationships in person while putting to rest fears about life in Iowa and the events of last summer, the Hawkeyes had one of the most unsuccessful official visit weekends in memory last month.
Since then, however, things have picked up. Notably, Iowa has gained meaningful traction in the class of 2023 and continues working to get prospects to Iowa City to build relationships. Now, that traction seems to be extending into the class of 2022 as the Hawkeyes land a big time commitment from Florida running back Jaziun Patterson.
Patterson is a major pickup for the Hawkeyes. A 4-star prospect according to Rivals, the Deerfield Beach product at a solid frame as a prep running back at 5’10” and close to 190 pounds. On film, he shows great balance and a lot of power for his size, which leads to tremendous tackle-breaking. He lacks the top-end speed to really break free for long runs, but shows great patience and vision with a consistent ability to make the first (and often second) tackler miss and churn out runs in the 5-10 yard range.
Discussing his style, Patterson told HawkeyeReport he utilizes his footwork to make up for any lack of top end speed:
“You have to have vision and patience when running. It’s not all about speed. The steps I take out of the backfield set up the key blocks in order for the linemen to be successful. Also being versatile can take me a long way.”
That consistency is reflected in the stats. As a sophomore at Deerfield Beach, Patterson racked up 393 yards and 8 TDS on just 53 carries (7.4 yards per carry) while backing up Miami RB commit Jaylan Knighton (who ran for over 1400 yards as a senior). Last year in just 5 games due to a COVID-19 shortened season, Patterson upped the ante by rushing for 511 yards and 7 TDs on only 63 carries (8.1 ypc) for an average of 102 yards and 1.4 TDs per game.
The production helped Patterson earn 1st Team All-Broward 8A-6A honors while guiding Deerfield Beach to a South Florida 8A tri-county championship.
Beyond the on-field production, Patterson has continued to turn heads on the camp circuit when the pandemic has allowed him to get out there and perform. Back in April, Rivals held their camp in Miami and Patterson demonstrated why the recruiting service has him ranked as a 4-star prospect, winning RB MVP.
Notably for Hawkeye fans, it wasn’t just his ability to set up blocks and make solid rushing gains, but his pass-catching ability that helped him win the award. Patterson shined in 1x1 drills and consistently won battles with top linebackers, beating them in open space and catching big gainers.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the camp this spring.
Four-star RB Jaziun Patterson sealed up the MVP award during the best on best portion of 1on1s! Here's a handful of his best plays from today's @RivalsCamp in Miami.— Rivals (@Rivals) April 18, 2021
Patterson's Rivals Profile: https://t.co/cWoPtjvQKO pic.twitter.com/wsRXr2JWmz
The combination of talent, on-field production and impressive camp showings not only earned Patterson the 4 stars at Rivals, but also a slew of offers. The Florida product listed more than 30 scholarship offers at one time, including ones from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, Texas A&M and a slew of others.
Some of those offers dried up as schools got full at the position, but Patterson chose Iowa out of a top ten list that included Auburn, Indiana, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Penn State, South Carolina and Texas A&M.
As for why Iowa, here’s what Patterson had to say to HawkeyeReport:
“I feel like all the coaches I talked to are genuinely interested in me as a person and as an athlete... I feel like Iowa is collectively a great place from the people to the campus to the atmosphere.”
[Edit: After formally announcing his decision on the radio Tuesday evening, Patterson penned an article for the Palm Beach Post adding background on his recruiting process and why he ultimately chose Iowa. It echoes the above sentiment but adds detail and is worth the read. You can read the post in its entirety here. A substantial excerpt has been added to the end of this article.]
That’s good news for the Hawkeyes, who appear to be getting a good one.
Also talking with HawkeyeReport, Deerfield Beach head coach Jevon Glenn indicated Patterson is a great fit for Iowa both on and off the field.
“He’s a great kid. He’s so quiet you wouldn’t even know he’s Jaziun Patterson if someone didn’t tell you. He’s real down to earth and real sociable. He’s the kind of kid that could go anywhere in the country and fit in socially as well as academically because he’s a great student. We don’t have an qualms about him wherever he may attend.
A lot of what Iowa does now is what Ladell did when he was there and it fits Jaziun well because he’s a downhill runner with physicality, elusiveness, and vision... I think he can carry us all the way. He’s a three down back, a triple threat that can do it all. Wherever we go, he’s going to be the one to lead us.”
That’s high praise for the head coach at a program that has produced a slew of high level talent. Deerfield Beach alums include budding Denver Broncos and former Alabama star Jerry Jeudy, former Michigan standout Denard Robinson, former Georgia receiver and current Chicago Bear Riley Ridley and former Florida receiver and current Atlanta Falcon Brandon Powell.
Patterson becomes Iowa’s ninth commitment in the class of 2022. He’s the lone running back in the class to-date and the only prospect from the state of Florida. He joins Iowa’s first commit in the class, defensive end Aaron Graves, as four star prospects in the group.
The class is expected to remain small with recruiting coordinator Tyler Barnes indicating the Hawkeyes are likely to only take around 15 commits in total. That’s likely to keep them lower in the national rankings (which count the top-20 commits in each team’s class toward their ranking), though the average star rating of the class currently would put them inside the top-35 nationally.
Welcome aboard Jaziun Patterson!
Jaziun Patterson, RB
Wt: 185 lbs
Hometown: Deerfield Beach, Florida (Deerfield Beach)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 4
[Edit: As noted above, Jaziun Patterson penned an article for the Palm Beach Post following his commitment. What follows is a substantial excerpt from that article, which can be found in its entirety here.]
This wasn’t that hard of a decision for me. I like Iowa. I like the people there.
I feel their intentions are genuine. I don’t feel like they’re trying to trick me into coming to their school. The way they were played a big part for me. It’s important, the people you surround yourself with.
Iowa is a lot different from South Florida.
Snow? I’ve never seen it. But there’s a first time for everything. I have jackets for cold weather, so I’ll be good.
I like that everything on campus is so close. The dorms are close to the football facility, so it’s easy to maneuver and get around quick.
It all slowed down during the pandemic. I didn’t get a spring, summer, none of that. Most of 2020, I sat around the house and put on weight. I put on like 20 or 30 pounds. I couldn’t really do anything outside the house from fear of covid until November.
Last season I played at 215 pounds. I felt way different. I didn’t feel good at all – physically or mentally. I couldn’t really move the way I wanted to. I was more like a power back and I couldn’t really get away from defenders. When I lost the weight, I felt way better. I felt like myself again.
If you’re an Iowa fan, here’s what you should know about me: I’m humble. I work hard and I’m a competitor. I love competition.
And I’m ready.