On Wednesday, coaches from Miami (Fl), Syracuse, Bowling Green and Millikan came to Trinity Catholic in St. Louis as part of the spring evaluation period. Iowa, Kentucky and Illinois came earlier in the week. Kansas State stopped in and offered eight players at the school.
In total, 13 Trinity players have scholarship offers, that is from the 2018 class down to 2020. Not bad for a school of only 289 students, and one that, not too long ago, was anything but a football school.
"When I first got here, Trinity was a three-win team," head coach Cory Patterson said. "It felt like we were everybody's homecoming and everybody was okay with us being that way. The culture was that way. That first season, we took some L's, there were five people in the stands and nobody coming to watch the games sometimes, but the next year was completely different. The guys that came in that freshman class brought excitement and people wanted to watch them play and they played right away."
Patterson was a successful youth coach and some of those standouts followed him to Trinity. Trinity won seven total games in the two years before he took over. They won six and made a playoff appearance, losing in the first round his first year on the job. Last fall, just his second season as head coach, they finished undefeated in the regular season and made it to the state title game before falling to Lamar.
Those stands which used to only have a few spectators in them now have thousands.
"It is crazy," Patterson said. "All the students come out and a couple big games last year, we were well over a few thousand people and needed extra stands. It has been a complete 360. Everybody's excited."
The recruiting attention has coincided with a rise in the recruitment of St. Louis in general. The class of 2018 is filled with top-end college talent and the 2019 and 2020 classes look as though they will follow right in that line. Patterson and the other coaches in the city have spent most of their spring fielding constant in-school visits from programs of all levels including the very top of college football.
"I’ve definitely noticed it more," Patterson said. "Like, Stanford had never come to St. Louis and they have been in my place a couple times and Miami (Fl) was in my building, so it's a little bit different. We are embracing it. There is a lot of talent in St. Louis and people actually have a chance to see it now."
Among Patterson's top prospects are a trio of 2019 kids, quarterback Isaiah Williams, wide receiver Marcus Washington and linebacker Shammond Cooper who have offers from just about every major program in the country. Lineman Ira Henry has several offers and wide receiver Bryce Childress and running back Alphonzo Andrews are two more in that class who have Power 5 offers. Rising senior cornerback Isaac Trice is quickly adding offers this spring, and Patterson has four freshmen, lineman Jalen St. John, running backs Reggie Love and Teriyon Cooper and safety James Frenchie, who all hold Division 1 offers.
"I know it puts a target on our back, but it's something we embrace," Patterson said. "We don't work our tails off to be second best."
Patterson and his kids know that, despite the quick progress they have made, there is still work to be done. The next goal is to win a state championship, a task which would have seemed monumental just two years ago, but after last season, seems very realistic heading into this year.
A state championship would be a major milestone for Patterson and his program, but he has not lost sight of the main goal, which is the future of this group of young men who have changed the culture at Trinity.
"We want to put it all together, play hard and get us a state championship," Patterson said, "but to me, I'll take my guys going to college every day over another trophy. When I coach youth ball, we won a bunch of them, I would rather see my guys go to college, but I would like to put it together and win one with this group. It's a special group. I'd like to see them get one."
Next week, Trinity's crew of prospects will visit Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The following week, they will be at Michigan and Michigan State. Later in the summer, they plan to visit LSU, Alabama, Stanford and UCLA.