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Kris Patterson: Patterson achieves career goal, gets to travel with team

Fran Tolan | Friday, November 21, 2008

Just several weeks into his junior season, wide receiver Kris Patterson finally reached the biggest goal he set as a walk-on – he was named scout team player of the week. For every away game, the outstanding scout team performer earns an automatic spot on the Irish roster that weekend.

For Patterson, it was a dream come true. But the dream did not play out as he had planned. He sustained a severe knee injury before he had a chance to see the field against Michigan that Saturday.

“It was actually pretty bittersweet because I [got hurt] the second-to-last play of Thursday practice and I got scout team player of the week,” Patterson said. “… I mean, they let me travel to Ann Arbor but I was kind of hopping on the sidelines.”

But Patterson didn’t give up on his goal of logging game action for the Irish. He rehabbed for the remainder of the school year and suited up again for summer training camp.

This season, before the Irish were set to travel to Washington, Patterson was again named the top player on the scout team. But this time was different – and probably worth the wait. Patterson, a Seattle native, finally got into a game and his family and friends were there to see it.

“Obviously that’s my hometown so it was special, but it was also about the one-year anniversary of when I got hurt. So it had a lot of special meaning,” Patterson said.

Patterson, who did not even join the Irish until he was a sophomore, said he located his family in the stands during the game.

“I could hear them. They had pretty good seats so they were really excited,” he said. “[After the game] they just said they were proud of me.”

Patterson said before he made Notre Dame’s team, he could never have imagined suiting up for the Irish.

“Growing up and being a Notre Dame football fan, I always wanted to play for the Irish,” he said. “But as I got older, I only got interest from smaller schools and I didn’t think it was a possibility.”

And even after making the squad, Patterson said at first he was not sure if the person that mattered most – coach Charlie Weis – recognized him. It didn’t take long for that to change, though.

“I remember the first time coach Weis knew who I was. Fall of my sophomore year we had a scrimmage in the Stadium and I caught a touchdown,” Patterson said. “The next day, he called me aside and I thought I was in trouble. He just said, ‘Nice catch.’ It was kind of funny.”

Patterson has already accepted a job as a business analyst for Target in Minnesota for next year. He said he knows his experience at Notre Dame will pay dividends when he heads out into the real world.

“The Notre Dame network, they just watch out for each other,” Patterson said. “… I can’t say enough about Notre Dame. I’m a better man because of it.”

And Patterson said the best decision he made at Notre Dame was to try out for the football team after winning the Interhall championship with Zahm as a freshman.

“Just being able to play every day with my friends and my teammates, being able to strap on that gold helmet and run out of the tunnel … it’s indescribable,” he said. “I mean, you really can’t explain it until you run out of the tunnel. It never gets old.”