The Badgers' seventh commitment for the 2002 recruiting season was actually their fourth or fifth verbal chronologically. Until now, it hasn't been reported anywhere that defensive end Chris Patrick verbally committed to Wisconsin last summer.
Patrick, a 6-5, 240-pound senior at Ithaca High School (Mich.) said he committed about one month after he was offered a scholarship at the Badgers' camp last summer.
"I talked to (Defensive Line Coach John) Palermo a lot, and I saw their facilities. They have great facilities. They have the Fetzer Academic Center, which is a great place if you need help for your studies. And their facilities are all together. You don't have to walk far between places. I've been to Notre Dame's campus, and stuff is all spread out. Wisconsin's is all in one area."
Patrick said Palermo was the No. 1 factor in his decision.
"He's a great guy, awesome guy, the main reason I'm coming to Wisconsin," Patrick said. "My brother (Joe) really liked him, he talked to him for an hour. My whole family liked him. I really have a good relationship with him. He's a nice guy, and he's a great coach. He's coached some great players, like Tom Burke and Wendell Bryant."
Patrick's older brother, Joe, is a junior offensive tackle for Michigan State. But despite the two being very close, Chris Patrick wanted to explore his options before making a final decision.
"My brother offered me great advice," Patrick said. "He didn't want me to have my mind set on Michigan State. He wanted me to look around and not focus all of my attention on one school."
The differences between Michigan State's coaching staff and Wisconsin's coaching staff were the primary factor in Patrick eliminating the Spartans, Patrick said.
Patrick could be labeled a "silent commitment," but he insists he should also be labeled a "solid commitment" even though he is still in contact with a couple of other schools. Patrick is making an unofficial visit to Purdue Oct. 19 for the Michigan game, and will make an official trip to West Lafayette either Dec. 6 or 13. He has not scheduled his official visit to Madison yet, but plans to do so. Nebraska called Patrick to offer him an official visit, but Patrick politely declined, saying the school is too far away.
But while he's visiting Purdue, Patrick said he is 100 percent sold on the Badgers.
"I'm not reconsidering. My family wants me to visit other places still," Patrick said. "They just want me to visit some other places, just to see…for them to come in and (steal) me, it would have to be a great recruiting (job). I'm not going to end up at any other place than Wisconsin. My mind is set."
Palermo has projected Patrick as a defensive end, and told him he will likely redshirt in order to put on the extra 20-30 pounds he will need at that position. Patrick, who has been a gym rat for years with his brother, said he knows how much work is involved in getting prepared to play at the Big Ten level.
"I talked to Wendell Bryant, and he offered me some great advice," Patrick said. "He said once I get to college, I have to work my ass off, and I know that. You know, it's a totally different level football from what I am playing now, size-wise and skill-wise. I will probably end up redshirting next year and I have no problem with that, because it just gives me another year to get bigger, faster and stronger and to learn the defense."
Patrick is busy this week preparing for his final Homecoming game, after leading Ithaca to four consecutive victories following an 0-2 start. The team is undefeated in conference play, including a victory over their big rival, Shephard, last weekend.
The game was tied 7-7 at halftime, but the Ithaca defense caused three second half turnovers, and won the game 28-7. Patrick had two sacks and two tackles-for-loss. He leads his area in tackles this season, but his stats aren't as impressive as they were as a junior.
"Teams are running away from me a lot. It's been tough dealing with that, because last year they ran at me a lot more and I had a great season. One game this year, a team ran at me twice the whole game," Patrick said. "So I just keep playing hard."
Offensively, Patrick moved from tight end to the offensive line this season, because Ithaca was small up front.
"I usually block between 80-90 percent each week, so I'm doing good with that," Patrick said. "I'm having a good season."
Brother tandems are rare in Big Ten football, but the Patricks will both be playing in the conference next season (Joe Patrick will be a senior). That's a source of great pride for the brothers, who have dreamed about this happening their entire lives.
"We grew up loving college football. We always watched it and always played together. We always said our dream was to get a Division I football scholarship," Patrick said. "My brother did, and now I did. It's a great accomplishment, especially from our area. I mean, maybe one or two guys before us have gotten scholarships to schools. This is awesome.
"My brother and I always worked hard, lifting weights and running together. We worked so hard for it. I'm just so glad it paid off."
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