FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Leading the nation with four tight ends taken in the last six NFL Drafts, Arkansas and head coach Bret Bielema announced the addition of the consensus top junior college tight end Jeremy Patton (@JeremyPatton_11) on Wednesday. Patton signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) on the first day of the junior college signing period and will have two years of eligibility with the Razorbacks.
The top junior college tight end according to ESPN.com, Scout and 247Sports, Patton helped lead Arizona Western College to the NJCAA Championship game and was named the team’s Offensive MVP at the El Toro Bowl after scoring a fourth quarter touchdown.
“It was very clear from the start that Jeremy’s dream was to get in a program that can help him earn his degree and play in an offense that maximizes tight end play,” said Bielema. “Jeremy visited Arkansas with his family and saw that the family atmosphere was an immediate fit and a place where he can chase his dreams.”
A native of Indianapolis, Patton (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS/Arizona Western College) is the No. 9 overall junior college prospect by 247Sports, marking the first time a tight end has been in the top 10 of the outlet’s rankings since 2013. A unanimous four-star, Patton is the No. 17 overall prospect by Scout and landed at No. 33 in the ESPN JC50 with a grade of 80. He chose Arkansas over Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, USC, Utah, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Houston, Arizona State, Arizona and others.
Patton helped lead Arizona Western to an 11-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the final NJCAA poll under head coach Tom Minnick. An All-WSFL and All-Region 1 first team honoree, he hauled in 18 receptions on the season for 242 yards and a team-best six touchdowns. Patton led the Matadors in receiving TDs in each of his two seasons and ended his career with five touchdown grabs over his final three contests. As a freshman in 2015, Patton led Arizona Western with four touchdown receptions while posting 17 catches for 316 yards.
Standing 6-foot-6, Patton was a standout basketball player at Lawrence Central High School in his hometown of Indianapolis. He received several mid-major offers to play basketball of out of high school but decided to attend Arizona Western to play football. By the mid-way point of his sophomore season at Arizona Western, Patton had 32 Division I offers, including at least four from every Power 5 Conference.
The only program to have two John Mackey Award winners, Arkansas welcomes Patton into a tight ends’ room led by assistant coach Barry Lunney Jr. Four Razorback tight ends have been selected in the NFL Draft since 2011, while senior Jeremy Sprinkle is one of the top ranked tight ends in this year’s NFL Draft and has already accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. San Diego Chargers rookie Hunter Henry is tied for the NFL lead among tight ends with six touchdown catches while A.J. Derby is coming off a career-best performance for the Denver Broncos.