April 20, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
(This is another in a series of features acquainting you with Wyoming's football coaching staff. Today, meet tight end coach Harvey Patton.)
Harvey Patton Jr. can thank a couple of top-notch salespersons for being a Wyoming Cowboy.
Patton is in his second year with the Cowboys, and his ninth with Joe Glenn. For the first time in his coaching career he is responsible for tight ends. All of his previous coaching experience has been with running backs.
Patton's time with Glenn might have ended four years ago when the Cowboy head coach decided to leave Northern Colorado, and accept the job at the University of Montana. It might have that is, had it not been for the sales job of Joe, and his lovely wife Michele. "An opening at Montana came about when Brian (Cowboy running backs coach Applewhite) decided to stay at UNC, and not go with everyone to Montana," Patton says. "In fact, coach Glenn called me about the job. I actually turned him down. I was planning to stay in Greeley, and finish my master's.
"But through the recruiting of Michele, and Coach Glenn's uncanny ability to sell, I made the decision to move with him to Montana. By the way, there was one other factor in my decision," Patton continues with a grin, "my mother. She said 'don't you come home here without a job'.
"Obviously it was the best thing I could have ever done. We were successful, I loved Montana and the people there. Montana and Wyoming are very similar. They both have a passion for their football teams, and they are great people. They just make you feel so welcome.
"Coming to Wyoming was an easy one for me," Patton continues. "I'm two hours from where I was raised. My family, and so many of my friends are that close."
Patton is a native of Denver, and was an outstanding running back at Montbello High School. He was recruited out of high school by several schools including the University of Colorado, and Northern Colorado, but was honored by receiving an appointment to the Air Force Academy. He played at the Academy prep school, and for the junior varsity team as well. "I spent a year there, and learned a great deal both academically and personally," he says. "But it wasn't for me. Following that first year, I decided to leave the Academy. I decided on UNC because it was a good place, and they had offered me a scholarship out of high school."
Patton was a much-decorated fullback for the Bears. He was a first-team all-conference performer as a senior in 1993. He was a team captain as both a junior and a senior. He was voted the Most Valuable Player as well as its Most Inspirational, by his teammates. A four-year letterwinner, he played on two NCAA Division II Playoff teams during the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
All of that came his way despite damaging his knee during UNC's third-to-last game of his senior season, a game against Nebraska-Omaha. "It wasn't that I thought there was a career beyond college for me as a player," Patton says. "But the injury made it clear to me.
"After that season, my position coach, Billy Campfield, who taught me so much about football and the game of life, took a job at the University of Nevada. Before he left, he recommended me as a coach. I was certainly willing to give it a try. It was a tough time for me. I was trying to rehab my knee, and I was taking 19 hours of school, so I had a lot going on. But during that time, I thought seriously about coach. I was a marketing major, but didn't necessarily want to be in a corporate-stuffed jacket. I asked myself, 'what was I interested in'? The answer was sports, and football specifically. Coaching was a logical move.
"So I spoke with Coach Glenn about a graduate assistant position, and here I am." Except for one season during which he coached at the University of Nevada (1999), Patton has been a Joe Glenn assistant through all of those years.
"I had Harvey as a player at Northern Colorado, and immediately after his playing career he joined our coach staff," Glenn says. "He understands what it takes to be a good football player at the collegiate level. He is very spirited, and emotional and very passionate about the game."
For the first time in his coaching career, Patton is undergoing a transition season. He is the Cowboys' tight end coach. Last season, and during all of his previous coaching seasons, he coached running backs. "I really appreciate Coach Glenn giving me the opportunity to coach another position," Patton says. "We had talked about it when we came to Wyoming, but thought in our transition year I should remain with the running backs, then move once the offense had been established, and our players knew what was going on.
"My main challenge is to understand and communicate the little things to our tight ends," Patton says. "The things that will make a guy better at his position.
"It was a little easier at running back because I played the position, and coached it for a long while. I'm very familar with that position. There's a good deal more involved at tight end. You have to understand coverages, release moves on defenders, route combinations, catching the ball, run blocking and recognizing fronts.
"Coaching is about the game of football . But it is the detail that presents the challenges. I am absolutely enjoying my new spot. I've enjoyed learning a different part of the game. I spent a lot of time picking the brains of a couple of good friends, John Embry, the tight ends coach at UCLA, who used to be at CU, and Brian Pariani, tight ends coach for the Broncos. Those two have helped me a great deal."
Patton said that he is pleased with the manner in which his Cowboy tight ends have been improving. "We have an unusual situation in that we either seniors or young guys, and a gap in between," he says."Chris Cox (6-7, 246, senior) understands the system, and the things he needs to do. He is one of the finest guys you'll ever meet. As a true freshman, Wade Betschart (6-3, 243) is eager to make the team better, as are R.J. Robbins (6-4, 246, Sr.), Jay Yust (6-3, 226, So) and Mandel Robinson (6-1, 216. R-Fr.). We're excited about another tight end coming to us in the fall, John Wadkowski (6-4, 250, Jr.). He is a junior college All-America, and we believe he will be a great addition to the program."
Harvey Patton has been a pretty good addition to the program himself.