RECRUITING: Change Has Been Great For Patrick

When it comes to recruiting, sometimes a change of address is the best thing that can happen for a player. For Johnny Patrick, the move from Deltona to DeLand has been truly positive. The fast 6-0, 180-pound wide receiver/corner is a head hunter in the secondary and a game breaker on offense. He could be the missing link for a team intent on building on last year's 5-4 record.

Last season DeLand broke a long drought in football by posting the first winning season in seven years. The Bulldogs played a lot of sophomores last season, and for 2005, DeLand will be fielding a team with much more experience, plus they've added their potential gamebreaker in Patrick, whose dad, uncle and older brother all played at DeLand before him.

"He's a big addition for us," said DeLand Coach Dean Fabrizio, who led the Bulldogs to a winning record in just his first year at the school. "He's got tremendous speed so he will be a big factor for us both on offense and defense. Best of all, he's a first rate kid who just wants to help the team."

Because he just wants to help the team, Patrick will play both sides of the ball, plus he's expected to be a special teams demon.

"I play wide receiver, cornerback, punt returner and kick returner," he said. "At wide receiver I have quickness, a good ability to catch the ball, and I'm not afraid to go across the middle. On defense, I am a lockdown corner. I have returned a lot of kicks."

He likes the chances of his new team improving from last season and understands that he will have to be a big part of that improvement.

"We have a real good chance to go to the state championship," he said. "We are going to the state playoffs. We are going to make sure everybody is working hard."

Patrick toiled in obscurity at Deltona, but the move to DeLand has been noticed by Division I schools from all over the south. The teams that have requested film have obviously taken note judging by the letters that fill his mailbox every day. Although he hears from all the big name schools, there is one that brings a smile to his face every time he sees a certain letterhead or gets a call from a certain coach.

"Right now I am getting a lot of letters from Florida, UCF, Duke, Miami, and Georgia," he said. "Everybody in my family is a Florida State fan, but I grew up a Florida fan. I have talked to Coach Gonzalez (Florida wide receiver coach and his area recruiter), he is a good man."

He wasn't able to attend Junior Day at the University of Florida with his teammate Reggie Odom. He was on campus at the same time though.

"I couldn't make Junior Day at Florida," he said. "I had a track meet that day (The Florida Relays) I came in 12th in the 100 meters. I didn't have a good day in the long jump, but I am ranked in the state in the 100 meters and the long jump."

He is starting to get an idea of what he wants to look for in the school of his choice. The list will certainly grow as signing day approaches.

What catches his attention at the schools that call are "the coaching staff and the program." He's not worried about depth charts but he is ready to contribute any way he can, noting "playing early is not that important, but I would like to play special teams and all."

He knows where he wants to play at the next level and he knows what he has to do to improve so that he can help his team this year and be better prepared to play college football.

"I want to go as a wide receiver so I think I need to improve on my route running," he said.

The somewhat quiet nature of Johnny Patrick off the field is night and day compared to the hard hitting speed demon that plays on Friday nights in DeLand. The difference in his popularity will be just as disparaging when people finally see just what kind of player this kid is.

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