Timber Creek’s junior running back Jacques Patrick, the most sought after college football prospect in the Orlando area, was at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee on Saturday night for Florida State’s drubbing of state rival Miami. He said it’s not so much the outcome of the game that mattered to him as much as the atmosphere, and FSU fans certainly made an impression.
“It was crazy and fans were approaching me and telling me to come to FSU and stuff ... it was crazy,” said Patrick, who went over the 5,000-yard mark for his high school career Friday against Oviedo.
As crazy as the fans were at the Doak, however, Patrick said it was not the craziest atmosphere he’s experienced.
“I would say it was tied for second with Ohio State, but the Florida-LSU game last year, that was the craziest by far that I’ve experienced,” Patrick said. ”I was sitting next to Mitchell [Timber Creek linebacker Estrada] and I couldn’t even hear him.”
Patrick, the No. 1-ranked player in the Sentinel's 2015 Central Florida Super60, did say he was impressed with the way FSU handled the Hurricanes.
“It was impressive. I think Miami was No. 7 before the game and for Florida State to beat a team like that ...,” Patrick said. “But that doesn’t matter too much when it’s two teams like that and both teams are ranked high and stuff. Both are Top-10 quality teams so one team beating another team really doesn’t matter.”
He said he liked the way FSU used it’s running backs.
“They use them in multiple ways and they use them to stretch the field a lot,” he said. “Like catching the ball a lot out of the backfield.”
Patrick visited Ohio State a few weeks ago and enjoyed his trip.
“It was a lot of fun. I hung out with Coach Urban [Meyer] and Coach [Stan] Drayton [running backs coach] and met Braxton [QB Miller] for the first time,” he said.
He said he's starting to dwindle down his list of schools and will have a top 10 shortly after the season is completed. Patrick, who has 44 FBS scholarship offers, said the out-of-state schools coming at him hardest are Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama, Southern Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee.
In state, the battle is a little more heated and he said it's difficult to gauge who's recruiting him most aggressively.
"It's kinda hard to call because Miami and Florida State are showing lots of love," Patrick said. "Florida, they've been coming on too."
Patrick also said that a team like UF, which has had a disappointing 2013 season, could be hurt in the recruiting process.
"As a player, you pay attention to that kind of stuff. You have to. You can't just go into a bad situation where a team can't win or there isn't anyone to block for you," Patrick said. "You want to go to college and be successful. Like Florida, they have a lot of key guys out, and the offensive line they kind of struggle and I've been watching that.
"Of course they can get a lot of good guys the next two years and build that offensive line."
Patrick did say, however, that the job security of coaches is not likely to dissuade him in his decision-making process.
"I'm not really worried about that and I don't think [UF head coach Will] Muschamp will get fired," Patrick said. "I know a lot of coaches anyway, so if a coach were to get fired, chances are when another coach comes in, most likely I will already know them."
Friday night, Patrick became only the second Orlando Metro Conference running back to ever go over 5,000 yards rushing for a career, and he still has one game this year and one more season to go. Former Apopka RB Jeremi Rudolph finished with 5,330 rushing yards from 1991-94, which he could eclipse Friday night.
On Monday night, the Wolves played the second half of a suspended contest with Orlando East River and Patrick added to his totals against the team with which he started his high school career before transferring to Timber Creek. (Desktop users, click 'next' below for more)
Patrick wound up with 295 yards and four scores in Timber Creek's delayed 39-20 win. He now has 1,930 yards rushing for the season and 5,178 for his career. Timber Creek visits Orlando Freedom in the season finale Friday. He's 152 yards shy of the Metro mark and he averages 214 yards a game this season.
"It means a lot," Patrick said of reaching the 5,000-yard mark. "It's kind of funny because before the season somebody told my coach that I didn't have the same fire as Dee Hart [former Dr. Phillips running back now at Alabama].
"I'm just trying to prove myself to people."
He's on the verge of two straight 2,000-yard seasons and with one more year to go, he can climb the ladder of Florida's all-time leaders with every carry. The names ahead of him are exclusive company, two of which just ended their careers last season. All-time national leader Derrick Henry of Yulee (12,144 yards) is now at Alabama and Kelvin Taylor (12,019) of Belle Glade Glades Day is a Gator.
Patrick would need 3,626 yards to move into the third spot all-time on the Florida career list, which is occupied by another former Gator and Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmit Smith. His high school career at Escambia accounted for 8,804 yards.
The fourth rung on the ladder is held by former Kissimmee Osceola star Willie Green at 7,947 yards. Patrick is 2,769 yards shy of that number.
So the countdown continues and don't think it's not on his mind. Patrick is very grateful to Timber Creek coach Jimmy Buckridge for giving him the ball 20-plus times per game.
"It means a lot. I feel like he puts the game in my hands sometimes and I try to deliver the best way possible," Patrick said.
His team, however, will be watching the playoffs this season, which doesn't sit well with him considering the seniors involved, including his brother Javonte Seabury, and best friends Estrada and quarterback Stuckey Mosley.
"I take fault for that. We were just missing something and I think it was a leadership thing," Patrick said. "I feel like I wasn't as good of a leader as I should have been. That kind of hurt us. I've learned a lot.
"We had senior night last week and I wish we could have sent those guys out in a better way. It hurts a lot. ... I mean, we beat Oviedo, which is a good team, but missing the playoffs ... that's really disappointing. We wanted to send them out on a high note."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.