Rock Bridge quarterback Chase Patton gets at least three or four recruiting letters a day, but there is one criterion they must meet for him to open them.
They have to be handwritten.
Patton, a senior this fall, gets so many letters that there is not enough time for him to open and read every form letter he gets, so the first thing he does when he gets his mail is begin sorting.
The letters that are not handwritten are set aside and added to a growing pile.
When Patton began getting recruiting letters a few years ago, his mother, Joyce Patton, took charge of filing them and made a folder for each team that sent him something.
After Patton’s breakthrough 2002 season, when he set Rock Bridge records with 2,670 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, everything started to escalate.
“I initially intended to keep everything filed,” Joyce Patton said. “Now it’s gotten to the point where we just stack them up. Maybe someday they’ll be filed away so he can look at them later.”
Last month, Patton attended the Elite 11 quarterback camp in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; when he got home late Wednesday evening, there was another huge stack of letters waiting for him.
Several dozen schools have contacted Patton, and he has received scholarship offers from 11.
Patton, 6 feet 4 inches, 205 pounds, said the attention he receives from scouts and reporters can be overwhelming, but he can handle it.
“The worst thing is that it can be stressful, especially during the school year,” Patton said. “Towards the end of the year last year I’d have reporters call at night and want to talk for a while when I was trying to do schoolwork.”
The Elite 11 camp is one of the most respected quarterback camps in the country and invites the top 12 quarterbacks.
Insiders.com and The Sporting News rank Patton as the No. 5 quarterback in the country, and Tom Lemming of ESPN ranks him No. 8.
Patton said he was excited and a little surprised to be selected for the Elite 11 camp.
“They called and said I was their ninth pick out of 11,” Patton said. “I didn’t think I was going to get to go because they called me and wanted me to go to Las Vegas for one of their workouts. I didn’t make it to one of those, so I figured they were going to move on. I guess what they had seen was good enough.”
At the camp, which ran from July 23-27, Patton and 11 other quarterbacks spent two hours a day on drills and an hour diagramming plays. Bob Johnson, father of Washington Redskins quarterback Rob Johnson, ran the camp and the counselors were current college quarterbacks such as John Navarre of Michigan and Andrew Walter of Arizona State.
Now that the Elite 11 camp is over, Patton said he will probably speed up his selection of a school.
“When you’re at the camp you hear all the other top guys talking about how much they like other schools,” Patton said. “A lot of these schools are only taking one quarterback, but I’m still not going to rush a decision.”
Patton said there are seven schools (UCLA, Stanford, Iowa, Kansas State, Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia) that stand out to him. He plans to choose the school that has the best combination of academics, football and atmosphere.
Allen Wallace, owner of SuperPrep, a recruiting magazine, said Patton’s arm strength and footwork are his biggest strengths.
“He has the kind of scholarship situation that comes with being one of the elite throwers in the country,” Wallace said. “He can, in all probability, choose wherever he wants to go to school.”
Patton said he did not think he would get this much attention without Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile, who has helped Patton get his name out.
“This area is an area that’s totally overlooked,” Ofodile said. “It’s not an area that’s going to put out enough players year in and year out to justify major programs keeping someone in here consistently, but every year there is somebody. This year its Chase and Van (Alexander, a Rock Bridge linebacker). It takes a lot of work to get the film out and get people to look at this area. You have to go above and beyond.”
Football is not the only sport Patton loves. He has played baseball all three years he has been at Rock Bridge and was an honorable mention pick in the North Central Missouri Conference this spring.
Patton plans to play baseball for Rock Bridge in the spring but said if his college football coach wanted him to give it up he would feel a lot of pressure to do so.
Patton planned to play for Columbia American Legion Post 202 this summer but did not because he was too busy with training and football camps.
Patton said he is looking forward to football season.
“(Preparations) are going well,” Patton said. “We have running and lifting every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and I’ve been able to go consistently when I’m not at a camp. Our team was having a little problem with dedication but it’s slowly starting to come together.”
The Rock Bridge passing game will be without key receivers Curt Bradley and Jason McCartney, who graduated. Bradley set a Rock Bridge school record with 1,277 yards and eight touchdowns in 2002. Each will play college football; Bradley will play at Northern Iowa and McCartney at Central Missouri State.
Patton said he is not concerned about losing two of his favorite targets because he said he thinks young receivers such as Demond Thorpe and Andy Burks will play well.
Patton has many goals for the coming season, but one stands out.
“A state championship is one thing I want and I’m sure everyone wants,” Patton said. “I want to have another solid year, build on what I started and improve what I did last year.’’