NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Avery Patterson, S Oregon

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October 27, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks cornerback Avery Patterson (21) picks up a fumbled ball in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Patterson has been an extremely effective safety in his time at Oregon, despite getting little attention for his efforts.  With his experience as a corner and safety, he has been able to fill a number of different roles and despite a lack of size, he has been willing to come up and make an impact as a hitter and tackler.  Avery discusses his career for the Ducks, why they have had such success with defensive backs, and the people who have helped him along the way.

Peter Smith: Growing up in California, Oregon had not really established itself as a big program yet, so how did you end up going there?

Avery Patterson:  Yeah, I wasn’t the biggest Oregon fan, but I fell in love with just the program and the family atmosphere that they had over there and it turned into something special.  And having Coach Al be from Pittsburg and him believing in me, that let me know that it was the right program for me.

PS: Does it frustrate you when Oregon players are labeled as soft?

AP: I guess that just comes with the spread offense.  I know they don’t consider defenses that have high octane offenses to be that good.  The offense carries the team most of the time, so it just comes with the territory of having one of the best offenses in the nation as well.  But I feel like our defense was one of the better ones than some of the other defenses that had high tempo offenses.

PS: What do you attribute the level of success Oregon has had developing players and projecting to the NFL?

AP: I guess you can say our defensive backs coach (John Neal) does a good job of preparing us for the next level.  He really emphasizes really knowing the game of football for a lot of us.   That helps a lot of us.  Going to the next level, just knowing football better than your opponent.  We’ve had a lot of great players in our secondary in the past.

PS: Have you had a chance to talk to former Oregon safeties T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd?

AP: Yea, I talk to T.J. every now and then.  Haven’t talked to Jairus in a while.  I talk to T.J. every now and then and I actually just worked out with his dad today, so we have a good relationship.  I’m looking forward to having that relationship as I go into the NFL if I ever need to ask him a question or two.

PS: How did you feel this season went for you all as a team?

AP: As a team, I feel like we bit ourselves in the foot a few times, stumbled along the road with Stanford and Arizona and cost ourselves a chance to play for the PAC-12 Championship for a fourth year straight.  It was tough in the later part of the season not being able to accomplish the goals we wanted as a team.  In the end, our senior class ended as the best senior Oregon class ever with a 47-6 record and played for BCS games.  I was satisfied with the career we had there and we went out as winners.

PS: Which loss hurt more? Stanford or Arizona?

AP: Probably Arizona because we had a second chance at life and at playing for the PAC-12 Championship and to see them just take that away from us was heartbreaking.

PS: Since you were unable to play in the bowl game last year, what did the game against Texas mean to you?

AP: It meant a lot to me.  Especially in the week of hearing that my defensive coordinator (Nick Alioti) would be retiring and him being from Pittsburg, the same hometown that I played high school football in, that game meant a lot.  The program of Texas is one of the best and to go out and compete against one of the programs in the nation is something you don’t get to do quite often.  I’m glad we got to play against a program like Texas and I’ll remember that game forever.

PS: What does Nick Alioti mean to you all as a program?

AP: Coach Alioti will be a part of Oregon forever.  He did so much for the program and kind of took a lot of the bad stuff that came with being an Oregon defense with people labeling us as soft and he kind of turned that around and used it as motivation for us and it really helped us.  You don’t want to be called soft and I know for me, I’ll always look to him as a guide and father figure because he’s helped me so much in my career and helped me become a better player, not letting up on me.  He’s a perfectionist and I appreciate really everything he did for me, especially.