Getting invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a prestigious honor for any high school football player. For Jacques Patrick, who accepted an invitation to the marquee all-star event Wednesday night, it marks an even more impressive accomplishment.
Patrick, the No. 1 ranked player in the Sentinel's 2015 Central Florida Super60, joins a short list of juniors from the past who have earned early invitations to the event. The accomplishment is not lost on the talented Orlando Timber Creek running back, who accounted for seven touchdowns and 271 yards rushing despite battling a stomach virus during the Wolves win over Orlando Boone on Monday night.
“It feels just like getting one of my first offers,” said Patrick, who has 46 Football Bowl Subdivision Scholarship offers, all of which he earned before even playing the first game of his junior season. “I’ve watched the Army game growing up and I always thought about what it would be like, with the tradition and all, and I want to be part of it.”
It’s a big deal and for Patrick it’s not just about playing in a football game.
“I remember watching the game before and seeing during a commercial about how the players wake up in the morning and go work out with the troops and then they go to shelters and stuff and meet the kids,” Patrick said. “It feels great to be able to be part of it.”
He understands there is a certain degree of responsibility that goes along with the accomplishments he’s made and will continue to make. He’s 16 years old, but he’s already a role model.
“I see it when I go out to my little brother’s practices and stuff. Kids look up to me and I try to go out there and give them tips about stuff and help them learn,” said Patrick, whose younger brother Peter Hayes is in seventh grade and his older brother, Javonte Seabury, who has committed to FIU, is a senior Timber Creek teammate. “Yeah [Peter] might be better than both of us. That’s what everyone says.”
Patrick said he will be a guest of the Army All-American Bowl selection committee, which includes recruiting analysts and scouts from 247Sports.com and Football University (FBU), at this season’s game, which will be played Jan. 4, at San Antonio’s Alamodome.
Only a select few are invited to the game as juniors. Alabama freshman Derrick Henry, the all-time leading high school rusher from Yulee, was an early invitee last year, and this year's early list includes Plantation American Heritage running back Sony Michel, a Georgia commit, and Florida commit Will Grier, a quarterback from Davidson, N.C.
“I've been talking to them for a while about it,” Patrick said of committee members like John Schmid and Erik Richards of FBU and J.C. Shurburtt of 247Sports. “I went up to [FBU] Top Gun [in Ohio this past summer]. They wanted to see me live and they were impressed. They usually take a long time before inviting running backs because they don’t want to miss on who they pick.
“They were pumped up about it,” Patrick said of his acceptance. “It really feels great. I believe they fly me out this January to see the 2014 game and accept my jersey and all that.”
He joins an impressive list of Orlando players who have participated in the game. This past January's game had Orlando Boone punter Johnny Townsend, now a freshman at Florida, and Orlando Evans wide receiver Tony Stevens, who is now at Auburn.
Orlando Dr. Phillips running back Dee Hart, who is now at Alabama, was the MVP of the 2011 game, and Apopka center Ty Darlington, now at Oklahoma, played in the 2012 game.
Other recent Army Bowl selections from Central Florida were Orlando Edgewater center Mike Brewster (2008), who was injured and did not play in the game. Brewster played at Ohio State and is a second-year offensive guard with the NFL Jaguars. Apopka teammates Larvez 'Pooh Bear' Mars and Jeremy Gallon played in the 2009 game. Gallon is having a tremendous start to his senior season as a Michigan receiver this year. Mars had an injury-plagued career at FIU.
Also representing Central Florida in the game, which started in 2001, have been: P Eric Wilbur (Winter Park Trinity Prep, 2003), LB Keith Rivers (Lake Mary, 2004), QB Xavier Lee (Daytona Beach Seabreeze, 2004), DE Aaron Jones (Edgewater, 2004), DT Corey Hobbs (Oviedo, 2006), and LB Lorenzo Edwards (Edgewater, 2007).
Patrick will play in the 2015 game, when he will join about 80 other players from across the country representing a choice selection of the best players in America.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun