Last fall, Dallas Skyline High School was going through one of the most successful seasons in school history. The program would eventually reach the Class 5A state quarterfinals before falling to Round Rock Stony Point. In addition, with a bevy of non-seniors such as wideout Mike Davis and linebackers Domonique Patterson and Corey Nelson playing key roles, it looked like that the 2009 season might be even better for the Raiders.
In addition, something else happened off the field last fall at Skyline that may or may not translate into a better record in 2009. However, the Raiders certainly think that it will make them not only physically tougher but mentally tougher as well.
"We have a portable weight room," Patterson, a Texas A&M commit, "but our air conditioning is broken. It happened sometime during last season. It has been like that for a long time but we have adapted to it.
"We keep the doors open so we have gotten used to it. There's not many other teams doing off season work like us. It's not a big thing for us anymore."
Skyline has now been into its summer conditioning program for a week and, due to the lack of air conditioning indoors, virtually all of the work is being done in temperatures that will soar near the 100-degree mark this week.
"After we lift weights, we do long distance runs to get our conditioning up," said Patterson. "We will do a lot of 400-meter runs. Right now, we just do 20-minute runs. We do both legs and upper body. We haven't tested yet, because it's our first week of lifting. We will be lifting for another couple of weeks and then we'll be testing. I benched 305 pounds in the spring, which was the last time I tested. I squatted 485 pounds back then. I've lost some weight due to the running and I'm at 218 pounds."
While Patterson uses the summer to improve his conditioning, he used the spring to improve his technique. In particular, he focused on using his hands to fight over the top of blockers as did fellow linebackers Nelson and Anthony Wallace. The three of them are expected to comprise the best linebacking corps in the state and perhaps even the country.
"We hear people talking all of the time saying that we are the best linebackers around," said Patterson. "We don't let it get in our heads that we're everything than anyone else. We just want to go out there, play and stay humble."
In Skyline's defense, Patterson is the weakside linebacker. However, he will be designated as a strongside linebacker in the Aggie defense once he hits the A&M campus as part of the 2010 class. That's because, in A&M's defense, the strong side is no longer considered to be necessarily the side where the tight end lines up. Rather, due to the proliferation of the spread offense, it's the side where there are more receivers lined up.
"In college, technically I'll be the Sam, but in high school I'm a Will," he said. "I'm more out on receivers more than I am in the box. A lot of the time I'll be manned up on the number two (slot) receiver. I don't think it will change at A&M. I'll still be out there in coverage."
Patterson and his teammates are playing in a national 7-on-7 tournament in mid-July in Oregon. He says he plans come to one of Texas A&M's camps next month, probably the Mini Camp II which is a one-day camp held on July 12.