Shamar Patterson looks to have breakout season for the Panthers

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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Every year high school football coaches look for players to step up and play beyond what they have done in the past. The Lanett Panthers are heading into this season with a brand new head coach in RJ McDonald. McDonald may have already found one of his biggest leaders in rising junior Shamar Patterson. 

Patterson played a factor for Lanett last season as he started at wideout and defensive back. This offseason the coaching staff has challenged Patterson to take more of a leadership role. He has faced that challenge head-on. 

“We really don’t have the guys that we used to have, so one of us has got to step up,” Patterson said. “I just felt like I could be that person.”

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McDonald is an energetic young coach and will be completely new to being a head, but he is not new to Lanett. He came to Lanett as an assistant coach and has built relationships with his players. 

Patterson and McDonald built a connection early on. The new head coach has been an encouragement for Patterson since he arrived on campus, and now that relationship has only grown as the two have taken on new roles. 

“Ever since he came here, we’ve had a connection,” Patterson said. “We’ve become way closer since he became head coach, but even before then he always just saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” 

Most high school juniors are focused on putting together a great junior season statistically in order to get college recruiters’ attention. Playing college football is Patterson’s future plan, but he is not focused on his own statistics. 

Patterson is not originally from Lanett. He transferred there from Handley when he started seventh grade. Still, Patterson has a lot of love for the city. 

Lanett’s football program had one of the most dominant runs in 2A and won state championships in 2017 and 2019. Patterson’s full focus this year is putting his best foot forward and getting the Panthers back on the biggest stage. 

“I would just say to play my part and help the guys that need it. Really just win the game because that’s what we all want to do,” Patterson said. “My goal for the team is just to get back to where Lanett used to be, which is winning state championships. That’s what Lanett was known for. I just want to get Lanett back to that stage.” 

Lanett will have an older group this season compared to what the Panthers fielded last season. There will be a large group of upperclassmen, and Patterson will not be the only leader on the team. 

Alajawon Whitfield was one of Lanett’s leaders on offense and defense. He finished with 1,568 all-purpose yards last season as a junior. Whitfield will be one of the team’s leaders alongside Patterson this season.
Patterson and Whitfield will share the spotlight in the wide receiver and defensive back room, but there is no rivalry between the two. Instead, there is a tight bond. 

“Even outside of school, we’ve got that connection with each other,” Patterson said. “If we’re not doing something one day, we’ll just go to the field and catch the ball. We’ve grown a lot together. Me and him have that connection that nobody else knows about. I can talk to him about anything.” 

Patterson will be one of many stars for Lanett on the football field, but he will also be a star on the hardwood next season. He is one of the few upperclassmen for Lanett’s basketball team and is expected to lead the way as a junior. 

Basketball and football have few similarities, but the skill tends to translate over. Patterson believes that the biggest thing he gains from playing basketball is improved conditioning. 

Patterson is set to have a breakout season. He believes that Panthers’ fans will see a totally different player this season. Patterson wants to be more explosive and make more positive plays for the team. 

“On the defensive side and on the offensive side, I’m going to make a lot more plays,” Patterson said. “Catching hitches and taking it to the house and catching picks and taking them back.” 

Last year was Patterson’s first full year starting. There was a learning curve, but he has come into his own this offseason. The game has become easier, and he has learned how to read the ball better and take better angles. 

Patterson has major aspirations. He wants to play collegiate football and believes that there are things that set him apart mentally from other prospects. 

“I would just say learning technique, like where the ball is going when it’s in the air.” and angles

“I want to go to college for football and major in engineering,” Patterson said. “I’m just going to keep praying on it and eventually it will come.” 

“When I get on the field, I don’t think anybody else is better than me,” Patterson added. “Not even being cocky, it’s just something that’s in me that I’m trying to grow into.”