COLUMBUS East senior defensive end Brock Patterson, The Republic’s Defensive Athlete of the Year for football, has found a new home when it comes to his college choice.
Olympians quarterback Alex Cowan isn’t sure quite yet.
Patterson, who is headed to Saint Francis, will be among five Columbus East athletes expected to sign letters of intent today in a ceremony at the high school. Cowan, originally expected to sign with Saint Francis, remained orally committed to the school but will make a visit there Feb. 12 to cement his decision.
“I just have to visit again before I sign,” Cowan said. “I want to make sure 100 percent that’s where I want to call home.”
Patterson was sure he wanted to attend the Fort Wayne university.
“It felt like home,” Patterson said. “It felt a lot like East from warmups and how the team bonded together.”
Patterson, and Cowan if he eventually signs, will join East offensive lineman Evan Kuhn, who will sign today, at Saint Francis. Patterson and Kuhn attended a camp at the school. Patterson was offered a scholarship after the season and verbally committed Jan. 29.
Patterson also had offers from Saint Joseph’s and Marian, and he now plans to major in political science and minor in psychology.
Five Columbus East seniors plan to sign national letters-of-intent during a ceremony at 3:15 p.m. today in the school’s commons:
Last fall, Patterson recorded 69 tackles, including six sacks, and had a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. The forced fumble came when he stripped Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger quarterback Mike Fiacable as time was winding down in the state title game.
Patterson, who played defensive end his junior year, began his senior season as a linebacker before moving back to defensive end after the opener against Bloomington North.
“Linebacker is a fun position, and it was a fun time in the Bloomington North game,” Patterson said. “But defensive end felt more natural.”
“I think he’s pretty versatile,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “I think he’ll do whatever they needed him to do at the next level. For us, we thought he was an impact player at defensive end because teams had to game plan for where he was. He could even help out offensively if they need him. He’s just a good football player.”
Cowan will attempt to prove his versatility in college football. At 5-foot-8, he knew he probably wasn’t going to be a college quarterback.
Despite helping lead the Olympians to a state title as a quarterback, Cowan said his future will be at wide receiver. Saint Francis projects him as a wide receiver if he attends.
“I feel like I’m more natural at a position like that just because of my height,” Cowan said. “I can’t stand back there at 5-8 and throw the ball.”
Cowan was a dual-threat quarterback for East, putting together back-to-back seasons in which he both rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards. As a senior, he ran for 1,170 yards and 17 touchdowns and threw for 1,280 yards and 22 scores to help lead the Olympians to a 15-0 record and the Class 4A state championship.
But before taking over at quarterback as a junior, Cowan was a slot receiver in an offense led by Gunner Kiel, the 2011 Indiana Mr. Football. As a sophomore, Cowan caught 29 passes for 631 yards and five touchdowns.
“(Saint Francis) liked what they saw when I was a sophomore when I played slot,” Cowan said.
“I think he’ll make the transition just fine,” Gaddis said. “He’s a football player. He’s not a guy that can be pigeonholed into one position. He can do about anything. He could have played a lot of positions for us. He could end up even being a Wildcat quarterback for them.”
Following the state finals, Cowan took a few weeks off to let a deep contusion on his hip bone heal.
“I was trying to give my body a rest because we played 15 long weeks,” Cowan said.
Since then, he’s been working on catching passes from sophomore KJ McCarter, who was Cowan’s backup this season.
“I’ve been throwing with KJ a lot because he can simulate better than anyone else here how hard they’re going to throw,” Cowan said. “I’ve been trying to get my hands back in shape. I’ve been working on my speed as a receiver.”
Cowan plans to major either in sociology with criminal intent or exercise science.
Although Cowan visited Saint Francis after Christmas break, he said he wants to look around one more time to check out the school and its campus. He said he is comfortable with the football side of things.
“I feel good about going there,” Cowan said. “They run the offense that I feel comfortable in. They have my major, and they happen to be the first one that offered me a chance to play.”
Cowan also took trips to Thomas More and Mount Saint Joseph before verbally committing to Saint Francis.
“I was comfortable,” Cowan said. “I like all the coaches. It’s kind of like talking to the coaches here.”