VALDOSTA, GA – With the heat rising to near 100 degrees and humidity as high, the Valdosta State University football team was high energy for the two plus hours of scrimmage that played out on …
VALDOSTA, GA – With the heat rising to near 100 degrees and humidity as high, the Valdosta State University football team was high energy for the two plus hours of scrimmage that played out on Wed., Aug. 9 and two Clay County guys; Ridgeview High running back Qhahlin Patterson and Fleming Island High linebacker Jackson Bull both got significant playing time under head coach Kerwin Bell.
Patterson, a junior running back for the Blazers, was slated to be a workhorse for Bell in 2018 after transferring a year ago from Presbyterian College.
“We had glimpses of good running out there today,” said Patterson, who had one eight yard run that saw him power over three or four tacklers. “We definitely have some things to clean up. We have a lot of running backs on the team, but I think I’m the first one out. They like my power.”
Bell, who came to Valdosta after leading the Jacksonville University football team to playoff prominence three years ago, liked his squads performances, but knows the work is still to be done.
“We can’t have the mental mistakes we had today when the season starts,” said Bell, who works with son Kade Bell, a Fleming Island High quarterback and graduate who guided the Jacksonville offense under his dad for three years and is now the Blazers’ offensive coordinator. “Qhahlin is a strong, rugged back that runs downhill and we like that. Jackson is young and we hope to get him up to our travel team maybe on special teams and as a third linebacker.”
For Bull, a few extra pounds of muscle may get him up to college linebacker standards, but he is relying on his football knowledge and hard work to move him up the depth chart.
“This was fun, a little hot,” said Bull, who registered one tackle in the scrimmage and was seen as a ball chaser on the kickoff teams prior to the scrimmage. “The game is much faster and bigger. I just have to be smarter than them.”
With a second scrimmage scheduled for August 14 and the season to start September 1 in Valdosta against Albany State with a November 3 away game at defending national runnerup West Florida, Bull and Patterson are on board to get the Blazers back into the national picture on the field.
“I’d like to put another 10 pounds on while I’m still a freshman, then compete hard for a spot next year,” said Bull, as the Blazers graduated two linebackers, but have two junior backers returning.
With three incoming freshman from Class 4A champion Raines High School, the Blazers are looking to light up the scoreboard with quarterback Ivory Durham showing some flashes of his high school speed on the college gridiron.
One who praised Patteson’s skill set is offensive coach Kade Bell.
“We got a lot of guys who like getting the ball in their hands,” said Bell. “Qhahlin likes going inside and with doing that and out outside speed, kind of got a good 1-2 punch. He takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback.”
Patterson said his goal is to play mistake free.
“I’m looking to average about seven yards a carry to set up our offense for good second down situations,” Patterson, who lost some time with a shoulder injury last year. “I think the Raines guys are going to help bringing their speed to our game.”