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Throwback Thursday: Lovie Smith hires Cory Patterson to Fighting Illini Football Staff

Patterson joined Illinois’ staff three months ago today.

University of Illinois Athletics

There had been grumblings going back to the middle of last season that Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith were looking to shake up its football staff. A 2-10 record and a winless Big Ten campaign will do that. Coach Smith wasn’t exactly on the hot seat, but it was clear changes needed to be made, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

January 19, 2018. The University of Illinois announces Cory Patterson, the head coach at Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis will be the new tight ends coach for Lovie Smith’s staff. Offensive tackle Larry Boyd, a Trinity Catholic graduate, started nine games in 2017 as a true freshman and figures to be one of the anchors of the O-line unit for the next three seasons.

Cory Patterson covers many of the bases in what a college football program wants in an assistant football coach. He’s a leader. He’s a mentor. He understands what makes young people tick.

Trinity Catholic is a dominant football program and while it might take some time to fully grasp the x’s and o’s complexities of being a Division I college coach, Patterson is but one spoke on the Lovie Smith hub of this Fighting Illini wheel. And this wheel is already in motion and reaping eye-popping benefits on the recruiting trail.

About four weeks ago, Trinity Catholic’s best player and starting quarterback Isaiah Williams gave his pledge to play for the Fighting Illini and join the class of 2019. He is the highest rated recruit to commit to the Illini since the Ron Zook years back in 2007 and leading up to the Rose Bowl season. A player like Isaiah Williams has the potential to change the trajectory of the football program and make lasting impacts even before he steps foot on campus.

Illinois is currently recruiting other star players from Trinity Catholic High School in addition to Isaiah Williams. The Illini are in the mix to land: Shammond Cooper (LB), Marcus Washington (WR), Bryce Childress (WR) and Ira Henry (OL), all teammates of Isaiah Williams in the 2019 class.

LittyvILLe and IlliniGang19 are more than just hashtags and phrases recruits like to use and tweet about, they are symbolic of the change that’s coming to Champaign. Cory Patterson is very much part of that change and it goes well beyond having in-roads with one of the top high school football programs in the nation. High school players want to feel part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be difference makers. Lovie Smith made a splash hire and we’re already seeing improvements in the football program months before the start of the 2018 season.