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You couldn't catch Jaret Patterson falling on tables in Highmark Stadium's parking lot before a Buffalo Bills game in his three years playing for the University of Buffalo. He was never there to begin with.
Despite living less than 20 miles from New Era Field, Patterson somehow never attended a Bills game. On Sunday, when he returns to a city he calls "a second home," he'll rectify that while wearing the burgundy and gold of his hometown team.
"It means everything to me," Patterson said of his memories playing in Buffalo, New York.
Patterson, a two-star recruit from Laurel, Maryland, who signed with Buffalo in 2017, put together quite the resume with the Bulls. He was the first freshman in program history to rush for 1,000 yards, and then he set a single-season record with 1,799 yards during his sophomore year. He only played six games in 2020, but he still led the country with 178.7 yards per game.
Patterson was a problem for defenses in the Mid-American Conference -- he had 38 total touchdowns in his college career -- but he wasn't an overnight success. He had to grey shirt his freshman season before finally suiting up against Delaware State in 2018.
It's not too different from the situation he's in now sitting behind Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic on the depth chart. He would rather be on the field, but thanks to his freshman season at Buffalo, he knows how to get the most of it.
"It's huge for me getting mental reps," Patterson said. "I'm learning from J.D. and A.G. constantly. I feel like I'm definitely in a great position."
Perhaps Patterson, who has just two carries for nine yards so far, will get more involved against the Bills. It would certainly be a difficult environment, but it's not one he's unfamiliar with playing in those circumstances. He expects the intensity to be similar to what he experienced during Penn State's "white out game in 2019. He knows that the "Bills Mafia" fuels one of the best atmospheres in the league, but he isn't shying away from it.
"I'm kind of excited for it," Patterson said.
It also helps that he expects somewhere in the sea of Bills fans, there will be a pocket of Buffalo fans cheering him on.
"I'm pretty sure I will," Patterson said. "Buffalo loves me, and I love them, and I just can't wait."
Some could see it as a weird coincidence that Patterson's first road game with his hometown team is in a place he considers his home away from home. Patterson views it as a sign and a blessing to go back to Buffalo. And maybe he'll even get a chance to make some new memories in the city.
"I hope I definitely get an opportunity and show out," Patterson said. "That would be...pretty dope, for sure."