Poly wide receiver gaining interest, size

LONG BEACH POLYTECHNIC has made a habit out of producing Division I-A talent over the years. With two wide receivers in the last two years having graduated to the Pac-10, the cupboard is once again restocked for this season. One of those seeing plenty of recruiting attention come his way is Travon Patterson, a player who's taking his offseason workouts very seriously.

Patterson could be ready to follow in the footsteps of Poly standouts DeSean Jackson and Derrick Jones, both now with Pac-10 teams in Cal and Oregon, respectively. Coach Raul Lara almost didn't recognize the 5-11, 175-pound Patterson recently -- the Poly head man experiencing one of those 'wow' moments.

"I just saw him the other day and his upper body looks so much bigger," said Lara. "I said, 'Wow, you've been working out.' He's looking pretty good."

Patterson is looking pretty good to a number of schools these days, receiving interest from Oregon State, Oregon, USC, Cal, UCLA, Washington State and Arizona State among others. Oregon is sending the most mail right now but he said everyone is even at this point with no frontrunners.

Education and strength of the football program are among the factors he'll take into account when deciding on his college of choice, as will the prospects of early playing time.

"The kind of situation I'd be in -- playing time or waiting," Patterson laughed. He went on to say distance and warm weather could also impact his decision. In a position coach, Patterson is looking for a teacher.

"Someone who can teach us how better to run a route, someone who is strong in the technical part of it -- the fundamentals," he said.

LAST SEASON, POLY placed three wide receivers on All-CIF teams -- juniors Patterson and Terrence Austin, plus senior DeSean Jackson, who signed with Cal in February. With the senior Jackson hauling in 60 catches, and the press that went along with it, opponents had a tendency to overlook Patterson.

With his ability to snare anything close to him, they shouldn't have.

"Nobody really accounted for him last year," said Lara, whose team in 2004 won their fifth in the last eight years. "He has great hands. His speed is deceptive, he might not be as fast as DeSean or Derrick Jones -- but he can run with them. He's a technician."

On a team with three future Division 1-A receivers, Patterson caught 26 passes for 610 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Patterson was in New York last weekend, competing in the National Scholastic Indoor Championships. Patterson's 4x400 team won in 3:17.10. Next month, he has plans to attend the NIKE camp at Southern Cal in April.

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