Running back Jacques Patrick (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek) is used to being a marked man. It started last year when he was a freshman on the East River High School football team in Orlando, Fla., where he rushed for more than 1,200 yard on 150 carries. Former teammate Ryne Rankin welcomed Patrick to the varsity squad in the traditional way.
“I remember giving Jacques his first true varsity hit at practice,” said Rankin, a four-star ILB who committed to Georgia this spring. “They faked a dive with him and ran the option. And though he didn’t have the ball, I showed him how a fake dive ends up for the running back when they play against me. He took the hit and I just stood over him and said, ‘Welcome to varsity football, baby.’ I helped him up and he just smiled. He knew from then on he would have to keep his head on a swivel and go 100 miles an hour on every play.”
Patrick didn’t hold a grudge.
“When I first got there he used to target me all the time because I was the only freshman out there,” Patrick said. “But really he was just trying to make me better, that’s all.”
Rankin succeeded, and Patrick quickly became a top name in the 2015 class. The sophomore has already picked up 10 offers despite having played only one year in high school.
“Sometimes I forget but I write them down,” Patrick said. “My coach told me before the season ended to start writing them down: Florida, Florida State, Miami, Auburn, Vanderbilt, UCF, Arizona, Mississippi State, LSU and Alabama.”
Those last two offers, from SEC West powerhouses, show what type of potential that college coaches think Patrick has.
“LSU offered me earlier in the week so I thought Alabama might sooner or later,” Patrick said. “But it is a prestigious offer and I am very happy to have it. It was unbelievable at first.”
After Patrick visited Alabama, he went to Athens, Ga., to check out the Bulldogs.
“I visited on Tuesday and it was great,” Patrick said. “I sat down and talked to the coaching staff. I met all the coaches except for Mark Richt because I believe he was at SEC media days. So I really didn’t get to talk to him. Besides that, everything else was great.”
He spent the bulk of his time speaking with Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon.
“I sat down in Coach McClendon’s office and he showed me film of past running backs that they had, what kind of offense they run with and the stuff they do-- all the basics that go into their offense,” Patrick said.
Though the 6-foot-2, 217-pound sophomore did not pick up a Georgia offer, he might not have to wait too long.
“I know they are going to offer me soon,” Patrick said. “Coach [Mark] Richt calls the shots and he wasn’t there, so they didn’t offer me. It would mean a lot because I really like Georgia. I like everything they have to offer. I like the campus and the coaching staff so it would mean a lot. I am going to call him, probably next Monday. I will definitely call there and see if I can speak with Coach Richt.”
In the meantime, Patrick is preparing for the upcoming season at a new high school.
“I had to leave East River and go to Timber Creek,” Patrick said. “I didn’t have a problem there, we just moved out of the district. The East River and Timber Creek districts are so close that if you move, like, two minutes down the street you will be in a different school district.”
Timber Creek and East River are rivals. So now Patrick will be running against Rankin in a real game, not just practice. The good-natured smack talk has already begun.
“I told him I am going for at least 200 yards,” Patrick said. “He said he is going to give me a concussion.”
Off the field the two are friends, and Patrick talks to Rankin about the recruiting process.
“We were talking about it the other day and I sent him a picture of me in a UGA jersey,” Patrick said. “I said, ‘Boy, you wish you looked as good as me in this UGA jersey.’ He sent me a picture back of him in a UGA jersey. He would like me to come to Georgia but he doesn’t push it on me because he wants me to do what is best for me.”
Rankin hopes Georgia might fit that roll in time.
“Jacques is a great guy on and off the field,” Rankin said. “He will be a leader next year at Timber Creek. I just remind him to stay humble and thank God and his family for the things He has given him over the years. He will be something great. He always talked at practice about playing college ball wherever I went. Who knows? When I talk to him I just say, ‘Go Dawgs.’ ”