SAN ANTONIO – Quarterback Shea Patterson has always known that achieving his goals is only possible through sacrifice.
It is a principle established by his parents, Sean and Karen, and reinforced as he watched his siblings Sean, Abby and Kacie all earn college athletic scholarships.
It’s why the five-star recruit out of Shreveport, La., stays long after practice ends to put in extra work and why he left his close-knit family for the first time to spend six months honing his talents at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
The hard work has paid off the 6-foot-2, 192-pounder, who has developed into one of the nation’s most sought after players.
It’s also allowed him to fulfill a childhood dream by playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday at the Alamodome.
“One of my main goals was to play in this game, so it’s like I’m living a dream right now,” Patterson said.
Patterson is rated as the second-best quarterback prospect in the nation by 247Sports and the fifth overall prospect regardless of position. He was being recruited by national powers such as Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma, but announced Feb. 17 that he would attend Mississippi.
Patterson was already a highly recruited prospect after leading Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport to its second straight state title by throwing for 2,428 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2014.
But Patterson knew he needed to get even better to succeed in college, so he left his friends, family and comfort for the IMG Academy in July. Leaving his family was tough, especially his younger brother, Nick.
“It was a huge decision because he’s very close with his family,” his father Sean said. “He’s got a little brother playing in the eighth grade game (in the Youth All-American Bowl on Saturday at the Alamodome). He’s more worried about him half the time. He has this huge practice today and he’s asking how his little brother’s practice went.”
Nick is a defensive end and tight end and is emerging as a standout tight end thanks to the hard work he puts in with Shea.
“He’s basically Shea’s whipping boy,” Sean Patterson said with a laugh. “(Shea) just throws at him, but he’s turned him into a really good receiver.”
As much as he missed his family, Patterson is glad he attended IMG last year.
“It was definitely worth it,” Patterson said. “We all knew it was for the best.”
Aside from his improvement on the field, Patterson said attending the academy helped him become more independent.
“I feel like that kind of turned me into a man down there,” he said. “I went down there without my family and grew up a little bit. As far as on the field and off the field. In the classroom, it definitely made me understand that school does come first and you have to stay on top of that.”
Army All-American Diary: Shea Patterson on his Army Bowl stripes and enjoying the week
Sean Patterson can see a difference in his second-oldest child.
“He was responsible for time management,” Sean said. “I would call him and he would say, ‘Dad, can I call you back, I’ve got a test I’m studying for tomorrow.’ ”
Patterson has taken that same fastidious approach in preparing for Saturday’s game.
“The biggest thing is to come out here and have fun, but at the end of the day I’m a competitor,” Patterson said. “So, I’m going to go out there and try to win Saturday.”