Photo by Gabriel Stovall / Jamal Patterson is hoping to find his way onto the San Francisco 49ers' roster this fall.
McDONOUGH — In the midst of chronicling the summer progress of defending Class A state champion Eagle's Landing Christian, Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald sports writer Gabriel Stovall happened across former Henry County standout wide receiver and recent Stanford graduate, Jamal Patterson.
Question: What brings you to ELCA this week?
Patterson: "I'm back home right now after being at minicamp with the 49ers, and I'm just at home enjoying time with the family. Time with the family has been pretty minimal lately, from minicamp to back when we were prepping for our bowl game, which we won, so that was good. But it's been good to get back here, and work out with these athletes here at ELCA. I know Coach Robbie and he works with my father so he just thought it'd be a good idea to come out here today."
Q: What did you share with the ELCA players when you talked with them?
Patterson: "Anytime I come to speak to uprising players out here that are striving for greatness and success, it's a privilege. I like to say things that can help them build a bridge to get from where they are to where they want to be. With the knowledge I have, I can help them learn from my experience. I can guide them, but they do the same with me. It's kind of like an iron sharpens iron sort of thing."
Q: How impressed are you with the Chargers being the county's first football state champ?
Patterson: "It's bittersweet. I wish it was my alma mater that would've won. I was fortunate enough to win some state titles here in track, but I would've loved to win one in football. But, you know, I'm familiar with ELCA being a part of the county and all. Here in Henry County it's like every team's our rival, but at the end of the day, we're all Henry County and it's all love. I'm from McDonough and all, so it's all love. We support each other.”
Q: Speaking of your alma mater, have you had a chance to visit Henry yet?
Patterson: "I've not been there yet. I know they've got a new coach, but I haven't met him yet. I want to swing by there [this week] and check them out and see how the team is doing. I've heard they're doing pretty well and all. My cousin, Javon Welch is a receiver/H-Back type player out there. I know they're running that Wing T. It's tough to prepare for that in a week's time, so hopefully that can pan out.”
Q: What are the odds of ELCA repeating as champions, in your opinion?
Patterson: "They've got great facilities out here. The kids are definitely fortunate and you can see they are putting in the work. They're definitely out here grinding. They're the reigning state champions and they are showing that with the work they're putting in here. Why not a repeat?"
Q: What's next for you?
Patterson: "Well, minicamp went well for me. Now I'm coming in with the vets and the rest of the staff by the end of the week. Football on the NFL level is different than high school and college because it's solely a business. Rosters are smaller. Only 53 men. You have to go hard and stay out of distractions. One poor decision, not even a bad decision, could be the end for you. But I'm just going out and competing. It's still football. You start fast, stay focused and find a way to finish, and everything else falls into place."