How did Cory get to Illinois

The biggest acquisition of the entire 2018 college football offseason according to CBS analyst Tom Lemming is Cory Patterson, Illinois’ newest tight ends coach and top recruiter.

The St. Louis native coached just three seasons of high school football before Lovie Smith identified him as key to Illinois’ recruitment turnaround.

Illinois finished the 2017 season signing just two four-star recruits. As of week eight of the 2018 college football season, Patterson’s first year in charge of recruiting, the Fighting Illini have secured commits from three four-stars already, including Calvin Avery, their first ESPN top 300 recruit in three years. Avery, a native of Dallas, Texas turned down offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Texas, and Oklahoma to play for Illinois.

Patterson got his coaching start with Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis Missouri where he called plays for two years before transitioning from offensive coordinator to head coach.

With Patterson at the helm, the Titans finished with a 27-6 record over the course of three seasons. The team made the Missouri Class 2 title game in 2016 and made state semifinals in 2017.

From Crunching Numbers to Calling Plays

It may have only taken him a handful of years at the high school level before getting a job at a big-time college conference, but four years ago coaching was just a hobby for Patterson.

The first of his family to graduate from college, Patterson got his finance degree from Lindenwood University in 2002. He spent the start of his adult life as an accountant, crunching numbers for the likes of Bank of America and A.G. He also spent his post-work hours volunteering at a local Boys and Girls Club where he coached youth football.

Patterson played football at Lindenwood, a Division II school before a knee injury forced him to call it quits.

He worked for a community college accounting department for several years before he started coaching. He got his first high school coaching job as an assistant for Christian Brothers College High School before making his way to Trinity.

Building a Reputation

Patterson grew up in Walnut Park, one of St. Louis’ poorest neighborhoods with a mother who dropped out of high school and a father who never finished middle school. He excelled at both basketball and football, finishing high school with a Rotary Club scholar award. Many have attributed Patterson’s recruitment potential to his understanding of the common American athlete.

As a head coach at Trinity Patterson built a reputation for going above and beyond for his players, many of who hailed from similar backgrounds. He’d chauffeur a few players home from practice often enough and would use his own credit card to bus his team to visit college campuses at least twice a month.

Patterson’s unexpected path from accountant to highly touted football recruiter has earned him a genuine reputation and helped him establish a prominent influence among some of the midwest’s most talented football players. 

In March the Illini received a commitment from quarterback Isaiah Williams the state of Missouri’s top-ranked Class of 2019 recruit.

Williams along with several other four and three-star 2019 Illinois recruits played for Patterson at Trinity Catholic. As of October four of Patterson’s former players are considering offers to reunite with Patterson at Illinois.

Why Should You Play for Him?

Patterson is the type of coach that is always going to have your back because he had a difficult path himself getting recruited and always will want you to succeed. Overall, if you want an opportunity to come in and contribute from Day 1 in the Big 10, and play for a coach that will develop you on and off the field, look no further than Coach Patterson.