Everybody knows a Napoleonic Complex guy or 10. Short man whose height defines him, colors his soul dark and desperate, poisons his spirit with malevolence and generally makes him act in a way that constantly calls attention to his shortcomings.
Meet the anti-Napoleon, Kansas University junior receiver Daymond Patterson, who fills a room with positive vibes and never gives the impression he feels the slightest bit of regret about his height.
Generously listed at 5-foot-9 and 173 pounds, Patterson is a can-do athlete forever figuring out ways to utilize his greatest assets, superior speed and balance, to drive big-time defenses nuts. He doesn’t waste an ounce of energy worrying about what he doesn’t have because he knows he has plenty about which to be grateful.
Patterson showed great promise right out of the chute as a true freshman, then he fumbled a couple of times and was switched to defense, where he didn’t seem to fit quite as well. When new coach Turner Gill let players choose which position they would like to try out last spring, Patterson moved back to receiver. He leads the Jayhawks in receptions (22) and receiving yardage (206).
He was asked if the success he has encountered has shown that he is the player he was recruited to be. Napoleonic types would launch into a bitter answer without even being asked. Patterson’s positive outlook on life doesn’t allow for such wasted, negative emotion.
“Or you can take it in, and once you play on the other side of the ball and come back, it makes it just that much easier,” Patterson said. “When I was a receiver, I was great at reading defenses, sitting in holes. Then I went to the defensive backfield and when I came back, I knew everything the defense was thinking, how they lined up, what type of steps they take, so that really helped us both out and I think you can see that on the field.”
By both Patterson meant sophomore D.J. Beshears, a cornerback last year, a scat-back of a receiver/running back this season. Beshears scored three touchdowns, one on a kick return, in last week’s victory against New Mexico State.
Patterson averaged 75.5 receiving yards in the season’s first two games, 27.5 in the next two, when defenses clearly were paying extra attention to him. Nobody’s happier about Beshears’ big day than Patterson.
“I love being out there with D.J.,” Patterson said. “The more explosive guys you have on the field, the less people can concentrate on you. When you have people like D.J. coming out of his shell, as many people aren’t going to be able to key on me and things will open up for John (Wilson) and Bradley (McDougald), and Jordan (Webb) is going to be able to open it up more and (James) Sims, so the more people we have making plays will open things up a lot. Players aren’t going to be able to just sit out there on the other side and say, ‘OK, we know the ball’s going to him.’ ”
If the ball goes to Patterson and someone can spring him with a timely block, good things will happen. Kansas will need big plays from its playmakers to score an upset Saturday in Waco.