Football: Perryville fifth-grader excited about selection to invitation-only camp
Alexander Patton, right, lines u against larger players during a combine last month in Louisville. The 9-year-old's performance at the combine garnered him an invitation to the National Underclassman Top Prospect Youth Camp on Monday at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. (Jack Patton / July 19, 2012)
That’s what helped him earn a spot in an invitation-only football camp — that an a fair amount of football skill for a 9-year-old — and that’s what he’ll be doing at that camp next week in Oklahoma.
Patton will participate in the National Underclassman Top Prospect Youth Camp on Monday at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. The Perryville boy was chosen for the camp as a result of his performance at an NUC youth combine last month in Louisville, where he was a decided underdog.
“I was surprised,” said his father, Jack Patton. “When he went up to … Louisville, there were no other kids his age there, and if it’d been me, I’d have took off running scared. If he was scared, he didn’t show it.”
Patton, who will enter the fifth grade at Perryville Elementary next month, was thrilled to get the invitation to the camp, which is part of a nationwide football combine and recruitment organization that aims to help develop youth players and showcase high school players.
“I was real excited when Dad told me he got the email to bring me to Oklahoma,” he said. “I hope I’ll do pretty good in it. I hope I get to face up against some pretty good guys.”
There is no testing at the camp, only competition, teaching and practice in one-on-one and seven-on-seven settings and position drills.
Patton, who plays primarily at defensive back and sees some action at tight end for his Perryville team, said one of his goals is to win the seven-on-seven tournament, and he also hopes to improve for the coming season.
“I’m going to be in varsity football with the (Perryville) Bulldogs, so I’d better come back good,” he said.
Patton, who will turn 10 in August, said he ran a 6.0 40-yard dash at the Louisville combine, and he outran the high school players in attendance in the shuttle run with his time of 5.3 seconds.
But he said there’s one thing he enjoys about football far more than the running.
“I just like to hit people,” he said.
Contact practices at Perryville won’t begin until late July, but Patton gets a head-start at home with his own pads and a tackling dummy.
“I’ve already practiced out here five days in full gear,” he said.
His preseason schedule will be interrupted when he leaves for Oklahoma this weekend, but his father thinks he’ll get just as much or more from the trip as he did from competing against the big boys to earn his spot at the camp.
“I think that builds self-confidence,” Jack Patton said.