MOBILE, AL (WDAM) - The nation’s top seniors in college football gather in Mobile, Alabama this week for the 70th Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Two Pine Belt natives are among the group that will showcase its talents to a crowd of NFL scouts.
East Marion grad Johnathan Abram and Petal native Javon Patterson suit up for the South team on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
"It means a lot, it's a humbling experience,” Patterson said. “Coming from Petal, Mississippi, starting football, my mom used her last house note payment to start me playing football in sixth grade. Just to be able to go through that process and be where I am today is really a blessing. It’s great to be able to show where you came from and represent.”
"Got a couple legends from Columbia – Terrell Buckley, Walter Payton, Bobby Hamilton,” Abram said. “I'm just trying to add my name to those list of guys. I just want to be the next one up. It’s pretty much led me to where I’ve been – hard work. I knew that's what was going to get me where I need to be in life."
Abram comes off a senior season in which he led Mississippi State with 99 tackles at the safety position and earned First-team All-SEC honors.
Patterson played four years of offensive guard at Ole Miss but will play center on Saturday. Both players agreed that their extra year of college football serves as an advantage as they enter the NFL draft.
“Anytime you can start four years in the SEC is a pretty good advantage,” Patterson said. “Shout out to my coaching staff at Ole Miss with coach [Paul] Jackson and coach [Matt] Luke. It really helped out. It gets you ready for this next level, SEC playing at the highest level of competition."
“That fourth year is a lot,” Abram said. “A lot of guys come out early, sometimes they’re not mature enough, they’re not ready. But I feel like four years gives you a chance to get a degree, that’s the most important. Then that last year gives you a chance to fully mature body-wise, mentally. I feel like that fourth year is what a lot of guys need but guys tend to rush it to get ready to go to the NFL when the NFL’s going to be there.”