Patrick Jeune was greeted by Fresno with triple-digit heat. Fortunately, the first-impression did not deter him.
“I’m used to the heat, but that really hit me,” Jeune said. “It was like 105 degrees.”
The 6-foot and 175-pound receiver from Morningside HS in Los Angeles (Calif.) has until February to decide to sign to the school of his choice, but he went into his recent unofficial visit to Fresno State thinking that the Central Valley could be his home for the next four years.
“I was going to commit,” Jeune said. “But the only thing that was stopping me was going up to Fresno (and seeing it in person).”
Jeune’s visit started with a stop at the coaches’ offices where he was shown a powerpoint on the program. Then he saw the campus facilities, the weight room, was allowed to try on the Bulldogs’ gear, saw student living and wrapped up with a look inside Bulldog Stadium.
Then came the moment of truth - a one-on-one meeting with the top ‘Dog, Fresno State Head Coach Tim DeRuyter.
As Jeune tells it, “(DeRuyter) said, ‘Are you looking to commit before, during or after the season,?’ I told him before.”
“He asked, ‘When?’ Then I said, ‘Right now.’ I thought he would pick it up when I said that, but I guess he didn’t. I said, ‘I’m committing to Fresno State.’ That’s when he jumped up and started yelling and stuff.”
The overall experience of his unofficial visit gave Jeune the confidence to commit, he said.
“I liked the facilities,” Jeune said. “Fresno State - some people downtalk Fresno and say it’s not a good school. People that say that have never been to the campus or around the school. The campus is beautiful; I love it.
“I committed because of the coaches and the facilities, but mainly because of the coaches. They were real. Some coaches want you just to want you, because of your name - they can say ‘I got him’ and they can brag about it. I know they were really about me and they really wanted me. They kept in contact with me, stayed vocal with me, checked up on me. That fit the bill for me.”
Fresno State put together a team of assistant coaches to recruit him, Jeune said. Offensive Coordinator Eric Kiesau, wide receivers coach Burl Toler and outside linebackers coach Jordan Peterson all played a role. They were met with competition in offers from Nevada and San Diego State, though Jeune said he has received interest from nearly every Pac-12 and Mountain West program.
Jeune describes himself as a player who is dangerous with the ball in his hands, whether it be after a catch or on returns.
“I’m an explosive player,” Jeune said. “A lot of coaches tell me it looks like it looks easy for me on film. I feel like I’m just a smooth player. I play smooth and relaxed. There’s no need to rush when the ball is in my hands. When I get the ball in my hands, everybody has their eyes open waiting to see what I’ll do. I’m a big guy in special teams too. I love punt returns.”
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Jeune also expanded on his relationship with each of the three coaches personally:
- On Kiesau
“(Kiesau and I) sat at the school (with my vice principal/counselor and my head coach) for about two hours,” Jeune said. “We weren’t even just talking about football, we were talking just about life, my family, his family, the world. It was amazing. He showed me the true definition of football, that it’s more than just a game. Once he walked out the door, I told my coaches, ‘Yeah, I like this guy.’
“He told me straight up, there are going to be some schools that (BS) you and there are going to be some schools that are going to really want you. He told me, at the end of the day, the recruiting process matters about me and nobody else. He told me it’s the only time you can be selfish - and he was right.”
- On Toler
“Coach Toler, at the camp, he specifically pulled me aside and was coaching me. I felt like I was an individual to him - like it was just me and him. Every time I did something wrong he would show me how to do it right. I’ve been to all these camps and the coaches, they will tell you something, but for someone to pull you over and show me the ropes, it called me.”
- On Peterson
“They are recruiting me as a receiver, but Coach Peterson was the person that got it rolling. He was the first person to come here. He told me, ‘I like your film, I’m going to take it back to the coaches and we’ll make it official.’ A week later they offered me.”
Peterson’s visit meant a lot to Jeune. Some coaches have shied away from Morningside High School because of its reputation in the inner-city. Scout credited two 2016 athletes from the school with a three-star rating last year, but they ultimately signed to San Jose State and Idaho.
“Here, it’s been a big change,” Jeune said. “The school has so much of a bad reputation that nobody sees it. But the school is changing. Just because your from the inner-city doesn’t mean you won’t make it out.”
Jeune said that his high school head coach is an alumni of Fresno State - Lafayette Fletcher, who played for the ‘Dogs in the 80’s. They are happy for Jeune to focus on his senior season, which could be a breakout year with the three-star receiver teammate A’darrus Wilson off to college.
“I don’t have to worry about the recruiting process,” Jeune said. “A lot of people don’t know it gets hectic. It’s not as easy as it sounds. You have to pick a place you’re going to be comfortable for the next four years. Sometimes people make the wrong decision and it’s too late after you signed.”
About his game Jeune said, “In high school I’ve played probably all 11 positions. I’ve played tight end, halfback, QB, fullback, slot, wideout, corner, outside linebacker, safety - I don’t step off the field. I can fight through it and play the whole game.
Regardless, Jeune projects as a receiver for the ‘Dogs. Whether it is in the slot or on the outside is to be decided.
“We haven’t talked about that, but I’m assuming outside,” Jeune said. “It’s wherever the team needs me. I want to feel wanted. They have to rely on me for something, but it can be anything.”