OG, HHS, Petal athletes get NFL shot after being drafted, signed

By CAMAL PETRO,

Hailing from various universities, the Pine Belt area is home to a few players who will get a shot at the NFL this upcoming season. Petal’s Javon Patterson was the lone player to hear his name called during the NFL Draft last week, but Oak Grove’s Logan Scott and Picasso Nelson Jr. and Hattiesburg’s Rishard Cook all signed undrafted free agent deals after the draft.

Patterson spent his college playing days at Ole Miss, while Scott and Cook played for the revitalized UAB Blazers program. Nelson, of course, stayed in the Hub City and played at Southern Miss.

“It’s always been a goal of mine, probably since I was about four years old,” Nelson said.

Nelson signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Scott inked with the Atlanta Falcons and Cook agreed to a UDFA deal with the Indianapolis Colts. Patterson will join Cook, as he was drafted in the seventh round (246th overall) to the Colts.

Patterson made 42 career starts during his time at Ole Miss, including six starts as a freshman. Once he started the season opener as a sophomore, Patterson made 36th straight starts at three different positions along the offensive line. The Petal native could be found at either guard position as well as center.

Patterson was the second Rebel offensive linemen picked, too. Greg Little was selected in the second round to the Carolina Panthers for the 37th overall pick.

Cook graduated from Hattiesburg in 2015 and went to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College prior to UAB. After playing in all 13 games his junior season, he became a fixture on the Blazers’ offensive line.

Scott was a teammate of Cook’s at UAB the last two seasons, and it’s in Birmingham that Scott thought a shot at the NFL was possible. Like Cook, Scott went the junior college route before playing for a Division I program. After Oak Grove, Scott played two seasons at Jones County Community College, so his path to the NFL has been an upward progression each step along the way.

“It’s always been a dream, but really, the past two years at UAB,” Scott said when asked about NFL aspirations. “I want to say it kind of got easier, I mean, I got more confident in my abilities. I really saw it on film that I could play the part.”

Scott started to get interest from the Falcons a few weeks before the draft. In fact, he received a text from an Atlanta official that said, “It’s a big day. Let’s chat later,” before the final day of the draft began. As soon as the draft ended, Atlanta called with the invitation to minicamp later this month.

“I’ve been trying to go back and remember each word that was said, but it’s hard to remember when something that big is going on,” Scott said.

When Nelson got the call from Jacksonville, it was a moment of focus.

“Now I know where I’m going and now I know what type of defense I’ll be playing in,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to focus on what I need to do as a person to be the best I can for the team.”

The Jaguars stayed in contact with Nelson from the start of the process until the end. It was only fitting Jacksonville signed Nelson as an undrafted free agent.

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity and it’s definitely an ideal situation,” Nelson said. “I’m really looking forward to going down there, putting in the work and doing anything I can do to make the team better.”

Nelson and Scott were teammates at Oak Grove and both graduated in 2014. When Scott transferred to UAB prior to the 2018 season, the two became conference rivals, so their history goes back further than just at Warrior Field.

Needless to say, they’re each happy for the other’s NFL opportunity.

“The Falcons definitely got them a winner,” Nelson said. “I feel like whenever he goes out there, he’s going to prove himself. I’m really excited for Logan.”

Both will report to minicamp Thursday, May 9.

“I’ve known (Nelson) since about ninth grade, and I could always tell that he had a really good work ethic,” Scott said. “He always has a positive attitude and he always has a smile on his face. It seems like nothing can damper his day.”