Kai Patterson loves playing quarterback. 

It’s been his position for as long as he can remember, and he happens to be pretty darn good at it.

How good? 
Photo by Troy Herring

In three seasons as a varsity quarterback, Patterson — now a senior for the Windermere Prep Lakers — has thrown for 4,432 yards and 62 touchdown passes. He is the conductor for an offense that has averaged 43.5 points per game in the last two seasons.

The only thing Patterson seems to love more than playing the position of quarterback is playing football, in general. That matters, because Patterson is listed at 5-foot-11 and generally considered to be too short to play the position at the Division I level. So, when recruiting at quarterback didn’t pick up the way he had hoped — and when college coaches nudged him in the direction of playing defensive back — he was receptive.

After all, as much as he likes playing quarterback, what this Laker really wants is to play in college.

“A lot of schools this spring came in and said, ‘We kind of want to see you play defensive back.’ So I said, ‘I can make the change — whatever I got to do,’” Patterson said. “I’m really excited to play on the opposite side of the ball, to show that I’m more than a quarterback — I’m an athlete.”

Patterson’s head coach with the Lakers, Jacob Doss, marvels at how receptive Patterson was to the idea — and how well he has done in picking up the position. Although Doss has had no issues with Patterson’s size — Kai helped lead the Lakers to the SSAC Championship in 2017 — he understands why some college recruiters have that opinion.

“They know how tough he is at quarterback, and they know how smart he is — he’s Ivy League-level smart,” Doss said. “He does know he’s a little undersized, height-wise (to play quarterback) — but you can’t measure that heart.”

Players playing both sides of the ball for smaller schools is by no means unusual — it’s usually a necessity — but quarterbacks usually do not participate. After all, an offense runs through the quarterback, and the last thing a coach wants is for his signal-caller to get injured making a tackle.

Doss, though, has backed Patterson’s additional role.

“He’s earned that right,” Doss said. “He’s the most fierce competitor I’ve ever coached.”

The assertion Doss made that Patterson is “Ivy League-smart” isn’t conjecture, either.

Patterson is about 50 points off a score he would need on the SAT to qualify to be a recruit for an Ivy League football program — and those schools have shown a lot of interest.

Of course, even as he gets some reps in on defense, Patterson is still the starting quarterback for a team that hopes to return to the SSAC’s Championship Game. He’s got a Division I recruit at wide receiver — Pittsburgh commit Khadry Jackson — and a Division I-caliber fullback — Mason Russell, a Duke commit in baseball, in the backfield.

This season, Patterson will be the conductor of a high-powered offense that likely will score north of 40 points per game.

“It’s more than about just the size,” Patterson said. “Knowing the game helps you to be a successful quarterback.”

He does know the game, and in the long run, that knowledge could help him be an effective defensive back.

“I’ve been playing football since I was young, and it’s something I love playing,” Patterson said. “I’m willing to play any position on the field.”

Article originally from Orange Observer