W-S Prep’s hidden gem

W-S Prep’s hidden gem
September 20
05:00 2018

Zaire Patterson is playing his first season at defensive end for the Phoenix of Winston Salem Preparatory Academy.  With only four high school games under his belt, he has already received a full scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 215 pounds, Patterson is an imposing figure on the field for any high school team.  He actually grew up playing basketball, while playing some little league football here and there.  At such an early stage in his career, he was surprised to have a Division I scholarship offer this quickly.

“This feels amazing, especially considering how young I am,” Patterson said.  This is wonderful to have this much attention this soon.”

Patterson decided to make the switch to football when he was approached in the hallways by Prep’s head football coach, Deron Middleton.  Middleton says he told Patterson that he could make him a great player if he made the switch.

“I just told him ‘if you come with me, I can make you big time,’” said Middleton.  “He was actually a basketball guy but now he is a football guy and his progression from March until now in incredible.”

“He listens and he is a very smart kid.  Because he pays attention to details, he does everything right on every play.  At his size you have to be ready to block him or he will use his speed and quickness to get by you on every play.”

Patterson is only a sophomore, so he stated he wants to wait until his senior year to make a commitment to any school.  He has also garnered attention from Duke and Wake Forest universities.

Middleton said he was somewhat surprised to see how much toughness Patterson brought to the field immediately. 

“On the field, he is a great kid,” Middleton said.  “He works hard and has a high motor.  He actually does everything we ask him to do, which is why I think he deserves the offer he got.  He is always on time and even in the game, whether it’s going good or bad, he is giving 110 percent.”

Patterson feels his best attribute on the field is his speed.  The humble sophomore acknowledges he has things to work on as well, such as using his hands.  Patterson said when he first stepped on the field he relied mostly on his size and speed, but has now learned to use more technique.

Patterson says he owes a lot to his coaches for helping to develop his game to this level.  He says having a Division I scholarship offer has not changed his focus.  He feels that he has to stay humble and keep working hard so “no one else can take my spot on the field.”

While he is only a sophomore, Patterson feels he is one of the best defensive players in the county.

“I think I am up there with all of them,” he said.  “I don’t really think anyone is better than me, no one scares me on the field.” 

Right now, Patterson says his dream school would be Clemson University. He says he will keep his options open as he progresses in his career.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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