The Prospector, It's not all glamour for stars like Jacques Patrick

When people hear about Jacques Patrick, with his 50 Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers, it all sounds glamorous.

He leads the life of a high school football star. College football fans want him to play for their school. They all laud him with praise on Facebook; shower him with love on Twitter. By whatever means they can find, they reach out. If they get his phone number, they text.

Quez, as his friends call him, has changed his cell number at least three times since I’ve known him. His life as a hot-shot college football prospect has been fun, he says, to an extent, but those days are becoming more of a distant memory.

As the Orlando Timber Creek junior running back closes in on decision day, the day he will make public the college of his choice — Oct. 27, which is the 14th birthday of little brother, Peter Hayes — the glamour and fun will quickly begin to turn into stress and frustration.

And once he picks his school of choice, he will no longer be beloved by all. Fans of the school he chooses will love him, sure, but inevitably he will become the subject of hate from those lesser-minded individuals who think life revolves around their particular college football teams.

He knows it’s coming. The process has even started to stress him already. He’ll have to deal with it, but he is just a 17-year-old kid. To handle everything that goes with being a coveted college football star-of-the-future requires a tremendous amount of maturity. He’s been forced to grow up fast.

“Sometimes it can affect me. It can put a lot of stress on me. I just turned 17,” Patrick said. “This coach wants you to call him at this time, and this coach wants you to call him ... this and that and it can get out of control when guys want to talk to you at the same time.

“Then you’ve gotta still juggle school, working out and all that kind of stuff. You’ve still gotta have a regular life, hang out with friends … Sometimes it wears me down, stresses me out.”

He’s handled it all well. He’s been accommodating. Not only do fans pester him on social media and coaches constantly hound him to call, but media types are also in his face, and unlike college coaches, whose contact is limited by NCAA regulations, media members are not regulated.

Newspaper reporters, recruiting website analysts and fan-site bloggers are all over him, blowing up his phone. It can get old, and often times, media types are not always considerate of their subject’s time and privacy.

He also has to juggle demands from college coaches he admires.

Coaches cannot initiate phone contact with underclassmen. The recruits can call the coaches at any time. It’s on Patrick to decide which messages he returns. He gets social media messages asking him to call coaches constantly. College coaches can also relay messages through his high school coaches. Patrick almost always returns the calls. He doesn’t have to. It’s just what he does.

Let’s face it, if Nick Saban leaves you a Facebook message and says, “Give me a call,” kids don’t usually say, “No, I have homework.”

“I enjoy it all and I’m really in the best position. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Patrick said.

When he was younger, it was all cool.

“Yeah, it’s different now. I’ve been getting recruited for four years,” he said. “It’s fun when it first starts, but when it starts getting to crunch time and I have to seriously tune in and make a decision … I still can have fun with it, but I’m just at a period now where you really can’t have fun with it.”

His mother, Yasmeen Patrick, has been there. She’s witnessed her son’s ability to juggle everything that comes his way.

“I’m just glad that with all of the attention he’s receiving, he has been able to stay grounded. I’m proud of both of my sons,” said mom, whose older son Javonte Seabury, a Timber Creek slot receiver, who signed with Western Michigan last month. “Once his senior year comes, I think maybe it will all really dawn on him.

“He handles it very well, though. … I don’t think that it will get annoying for him because I know that he’s proud of all the offers he has and I think he’s very appreciative, so I don’t think he will ever get annoyed by it.”

Patrick’s mom also talks to the recruiters, and these coaches know they better be in her good graces, as well.

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