By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN – Ledrick Patterson is used to making tough decisions that impact the outcomes of the games he is involved in.
Tuesday, however, Patterson cemented a choice that was a bit more personal.
Faced with the options of playing either basketball or football after his upcoming graduation from East Webster High School, Patterson has chosen the gridiron, signing a letter of intent to play for Holmes Community College.
"I played and liked basketball and football in high school," said Patterson. "I had a tough decision to make. But I sat down with my family, knew I really liked football, and just decided to play football."
While Patterson received plenty of interest in his hoops skills, particularly from Itawamba Community College, it's hard to argue with Patterson's final choice.
Though he excelled as a guard on the East Webster basketball team that just ended their season with a first-round loss in the North Class 2A playoffs, Patterson perhaps shined the brightest on the football field in his career with the Wolverines.
In earning Starkville Daily News All-Area Football Player of the Year honors last season, Patterson passed for 586 yards and 15 touchdowns, ran for 902 yards and 14 scores, while also catching four passes for 53 yards.
East Webster finished Patterson's senior campaign with a 13-1 overall record, along the way earning the Class 2A, Region 2 championship before being eliminated in the third round of the playoffs by Calhoun City.
While most of his time in 2010 was spent at the quarterback position, that most likely won't be the case for Patterson upon his arrival to Goodman in the fall.
According to Patterson, there are a number of positions he could end up playing when he suits up for newly-hired HCC football coach Jeff Koonz.
"I'll try to fit where they put me," said Patterson. "I'd like to play slot receiver in the spread, because (Holmes) says they are going to run the spread offense. Or I'd like to play defense, something like cornerback or safety."
If Patterson ultimately lands in the receiver spot, it won't be unfamiliar territory. Prior to the graduation of Johnthan Banks, who played quarterback at East Webster before joining the Mississippi State secondary, Patterson was a receiver for the Wolverines.
Patterson also filled that position at times in 2010, most notably in the Wolverines' playoff loss to the Wildcats.
East Webster head football coach Jimmy Carden thinks Patterson would have no trouble adapting back to his old role at Holmes.
"He'd be a good possession receiver," said Carden. "He has good hands and runs good routes. He's not going to knock you down with 4.3 speed, but he's going to be where he's supposed to and make the catch in traffic for you."
If anyone knows about Patterson's assets, it's Carden.
The veteran coach, who also serves as an assistant to head basketball coach Corey Stidham, has seen Patterson's skills develop each year and feels the versatile athlete made the right decision.
"I thought he was a better football player than basketball," said Carden. "But he's a scrapper. He straps it up to go win, it doesn't matter what he plays."
Rather than East Webster, it will soon be Holmes reaping the benefits of Patterson's skills.
Still, Patterson says he won't soon forget his time in Cumberland.
"My high school career was real fun, sitting behind guys like Johnthan Banks and them, wishing that were me," said Patterson. "Then, I finally came up and just had a lot of fun trying to win games and that's what we did."
It was all of the excitement on the football field that ultimately led Patterson to realize it was there, not the basketball court, that he desired to keep playing on.
"It is kind of tough (giving up basketball)," said Patterson. "But it's just something you've got to do. It's just life. You've got to make hard decisions and I had to choose one."