He's only a rising junior, but Nick Patti is already turning heads. The Dr. Phillips quarterback helped lead the Panthers to an undefeated regular-season record and a Metro Conference championship last season -- as a sophomore.
That type of leadership from a young player has gotten the recruiting process started early for Patti.
He's already visited FSU and after performances like he had this past weekend at the Badger Sports Elite 7 on 7 tournament at USF, he'll just start getting more and more attention.
Patti guided a group of Central Florida all-stars -- Big Timers -- to a third-place finish in the event, losing just one game of the seven played. He showed tremendous accuracy all over the field and a nice touch on deep and short balls to the corners of the end zone. His favorite target on Saturday was Dr. Phillips teammate Dee Hart, with whom he connected for six touchdowns as the team went 4-0 on Day 1.
The Big Timers lost in the semifinals on Sunday, but Patti was still impressive and he favored Olympia receivers Isiah Meyers and Henry Eaddy on Day 2.
He's taking advantage of being able to learn things from older teammates, especially his Dr. Phillips cronies Hart and Ha'sean Clinton-Dix. Dr. Phillips is also represented on the Big Timers by four more seniors-to-be in LB LaQuentin Smith, DB Roderick Ryles, DB Ryan Luckett and transfer WR Chris Gallon.
"Them having more experience than me helps a lot. They give me tips here and tips there, and same thing with me," Patti said.
Hart and Clinton-Dix say Patti is the one leading them.
"Nick's looking awesome. He's throwing the ball, putting it on the money. He's doing his job," Clinton-Dix said.
Hart added: "Nick's a great quarterback. He was young last year and this year he's learned the offense well and, actually, he's teaching us some things we don't know."
"That's how it's gotta be," Patti said with a laugh. "Being out here and feeling it like I do makes me feel good. I've always been confident. I've never really been boastful, but I've never been scared. So yeah, I definitely see my progress getting better. I still have a lot to work on, but I do see myself getting better."
Two weeks ago he was invited to the EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Competing with some of the best quarterbacks in the region in various position drills, Patti more than held his own. He said it gave him a good measuring stick for comparing himself with the other big-time QBs.
"It definitely helps seeing the stuff you have to do, who you're competing against. This is my second year at the Elite 11," Patti said. "It opens your eyes' with what kind of drills you have to do, who you're competing against, the level of competition you have to perform at."
"It went really good. I did really well, it was a good experience just going out there and showing your abilities."
Last season, the 5-foot-9 Patti threw for more than 700 yards while splitting time with senior Robbie Matey, who is off to Johns Hopkins on a football/academic scholarship. Now colleges are taking notice of Patti's potential.
"Right now ...I can't get much, but the schools I've gotten attention from are FSU, UCLA, Wake Forest, and I think UNC," Patti said. Since then he has also received letters from Oregon and Clemson.
Florida State has already made quite the impression on Patti. It's early in the recruiting process for him so there may not be a clear-cut favorite, but the Seminoles will definitely be in the picture for him when the time comes.
Patti visited Tallahassee during one of FSU's junior days last month with teammates Ha'sean Clinton-Dix, Demetrius Hart and Phillip Amone, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
"It went really good," Patti said. "We got to talk to the coaches and see the facilities and everything."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times