St. Louis area high school football programs should expect to continue hearing from someone who was in their shoes not too long ago, with news coming this week that former Trinity Catholic head coach Cory Patterson would join Bret Bielema’s new staff at the University of Illinois.
Patterson, who coached Tight Ends for Lovie Smith, will shift to running backs in the new regime. Patterson told reporters Wednesday the uncertainty for a few weeks after the coaching change was announced made it rough, but it all worked out in the end. He spurned advice suggesting answers to interview questions and says he thinks he got the job just by being himself.
“The people around me know I’m going to work my tail off. I don’t take anything for granted,” Patterson said.
The biggest motivation to stay in with the Illini was not the chance to keep working with the handful of players he recruited from Trinity, including QB Isaiah Williams, LB Shammond Cooper, RB Reggie Love and WR James Frenchie. Instead, it was the Champaign community that he and his family found and wanted to continue calling home.
For all of Patterson’s work in recruiting his former home turf, one of the biggest criticisms of the Lovie Smith era was that his staff failed to effectively recruit the state of Illinois. Patterson said he doesn’t know what other geographic areas he’ll be targeting now, but will still be in touch with the St. Lois region.
“I’m going to put in all the work to be a great coach not just be a great recruiter, but as far as recruiting goes, I’m going to be in everyone’s backyard,” he said.