Bulldogs make Va. Tech, Towson scholarships official

Published 7:15 pm Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dominique Patterson and Derek Wright have played football and basketball on the same teams, from Pop Warner and AAU teams to King’s Fork’s varsity teams, since, as Wright specifically remembered Friday afternoon, “since we were seven.”

So KF’s head football coach, Joe Jones, summed up Friday’s ceremony in King’s Fork’s library recognizing Patterson officially accepting a football scholarship from Virginia Tech and Wright doing the same with Towson University very well when he said, “it’s clearly fitting we have this together.”

Patterson played nearly everywhere on defense, from defensive end to safety, during his Bulldog career, and was an all-district caliber running back as well. The Hokies recruited Patterson, who’s 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, as a linebacker. Patterson is the first KF football player, in the program’s six seasons, to receive a scholarship from an Football Bowl Subdivision (NCAA Div. 1-A) school.

Since July, Patterson was verbally committed to Virginia Tech. Even with that being the case, it didn’t stop other schools from trying to get Patterson to change his mind.

“It feels good to make it official,” said Patterson. “There are no more letters, no more calls.”

“I chose to stay away from all controversy because I’d committed to Virginia Tech. I knew my mind was made up,” Patterson said.

Part of Friday evening’s ceremony at King’s Fork evolved into a number of heartfelt testimonials from Patterson’s and Wright’s family, friends, teachers and coaches. No one shied away from talking about the effort Patterson had to put forth in the classroom in the last couple years, even Patterson himself.

“It just means a lot, the fact is that I’m living a dream. My parents keep saying they couldn’t imagine this happening,” said Patterson.

“When (Virginia Tech) started showing interest in me, it was what made me buckle down and do what I had to do,” Patterson said. Patterson is undecided about what he’ll major in, but he’s interested in studying sports management or crime scene investigation.

“I’ve been blessed to be with these guys for the last two years,” said Jones, “to be a part of all they’ve done. I appreciate all they’ve done and I know these two guys started all this well before I got here.”

“I told both coaches (at Virginia Tech and Towson), these guys will be captains by the time they’re seniors,” Jones said.

Jones and others mentioned how Patterson and Wright are examples of how to do things right for younger King’s Fork and Suffolk student-athletes. That responsibility only continues and grows as they go on to college.

Wright was also a two-way standout for King’s Fork football, at linebacker and tight end. Towson sees him as a linebacker said Wright.

“Coach was really excited. He said I might be able to play in my first year depending how the summer and workouts go,” Wright said.

“I had to be patient with the whole recruiting process. I was thinking I might have to walk-on somewhere,” Wright said. The offer from Towson came just last weekend.

Virginia Tech was 10-3 overall (6-2 ACC) last season and finished the year by beating Tennessee 37-14 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. VT’s 2010 schedule starts at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins, against Boise State on Monday, Sept. 6. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies are three-time conference champions.

Towson, in Baltimore, plays in the Colonial Athletic Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision (Div. 1-AA). The Tigers were 2-9 overall and 1-7 in the CAA last season.

Out of the CAA, Villanova (2009), Richmond, James Madison and Delaware have won national championships in the last seven seasons.

“I’ve always liked challenges. It’s great to be going to one of the best I-AA conferences,” Wright said.

“It’s a great opportunity to show what I can do with an up and coming team and I want to be a part of history with this team,” Wright said.

For the next few weeks, both Patterson and Wright have a few more chances to play on the same team. Both are key players on the Bulldogs’ defending state-champion basketball team. The Bulldogs are third-ranked in the state and clinched their second straight district title a few hours later Friday evening, so there’s potentially much more for the two good friends to achieve in their last few months as Bulldogs.