Fort Worth Star-Telegra
Jackson State transfer Willis Patrick is still in the midst of living out his lifelong dream of playing for TCU.
Since the moment he stepped on campus, Patrick has approached making the most of his dream opportunity with an intensity on the field and easy to get along with personality off of it, which has already helped him become a key cog for TCU’s offense.
Through three games, Patrick has arguably been one of the top starters up front and is looking more and more like one of TCU’s biggest transfer additions ahead of the Horned Frogs rivalry game vs. SMU on Saturday.
His journey is one about confidence and belief in oneself. Many players would’ve given up reaching the Power Five level after spending the previous five years at Division II Angelo State (2018-21) and Jackson State (2022), but Patrick isn’t like everybody.
“I always knew I had the talent to do it,” Patrick said. “The circumstances didn’t land me there out of high school and I put it on myself honestly. It was never an issue of talent with me, I just made the best of my opportunities. I didn’t look at it as ‘Woe, is me.’ I looked at it as “how can I be the best player here (at Angelo State) and I did that and accomplished great things.”
Patrick is off to a strong start in Fort Worth as well. With so many moving pieces in the spring and preseason, Patrick provided stability manning the right guard position. A quarter into the season and Patrick is only getting better.
“I think he’s playing well, I think he’s getting settled in,” coach Sonny Dykes said Tuesday. “I think the probably the biggest adjustment has been the speed of the game, you know we ran 90 something plays last week. That can be hard for an offensive linemen, I think he’s still adjusting to that, but I think he’s played well. I’m pleased.”
It’s always hard to predict how a player will perform when making the jump from the FCS to the Power Five. But like Patrick’s former teammate Shedeur Sanders showed in the season opener, if you can ball you can ball regardless of the level and that applies to Patrick as well.
“I can’t really say it’s been a night and day difference,” Patrick said. “Football is football, people are going to play hard and give you their best every week. At Jackson State, we were at the top level of HBCUs and got everybody’s best shot. It’s the same thing here, this team is coming off an amazing run so we’re getting people’s best every week.”
On the flipside, opponents get his best every week. You see playing for TCU matters to Patrick in a different way than some of his teammates.
At different points in our lives we all chart our dreams and life goals and where we hope to be. For Patrick, he knew his journey would eventually lead him to Fort Worth, all he needed to do was have the patience to navigate a winding path.
“I said this before but TCU was always my goal and my dream school,” Patrick said. “I wanted to come here so bad. Me and Steve Avila grew up together and that was our goal for me to be able to come with him. But it just didn’t work out at that time, but eventually it worked out just as it should.
“I praise God because it worked out and I wouldn’t trade my story or path for anything in the world.”
Patrick has brought that same passion to every practice and every game and people are starting to take notice. Shrine Bowl scout Noah Chang put together a highlight clip of Patrick’s performance against Colorado and let’s just say it was textbook blocking.
Patrick mauled smaller defenders trying to set the edge when he pulled, he knocked defenders off their feet in pass protection and showed the athleticism teams are looking for in big men up front nowadays. That was just a small glimpse of the potential Patrick has in this offense.
“He’s a smart kid, football is really important to him,” Dykes said. “He really enjoys being a part of a team and being a good teammate. I have a lot of respect for him, I love the way he comes to work everyday and approaches doing his job. He takes a lot of pride in it.”
That’s because Patrick never forgets where he came from or how much he had to scrape and claw to make it to his dream school. Everything he did was to eventually make it to Fort Worth, even if it was extremely hard to do at the time.
“I didn’t really want to leave Angelo State,” Patrick said. “But it just felt like I would be selling myself short with the time I had if I just stayed at the level the rest of my career and didn’t push myself to see where I could end up. That was my goal to really test the limits and see what could happen.”
Through perseverance and a special work ethic Patrick was literally able to turn his dream into a reality and now TCU once again has acquired another under the radar gem out of the transfer portal.
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