RDHS graduate Patterson excels as starter for UMaineFormer Tiger helps anchor talented Black Bear offensive line
Orono — The University of Maine football team has gotten off to a hot 5-1 start this season, thanks largely to the contribution coach Jack Cosgrove’s squad has gotten from its offensive line.
And the anchor of that line is a familiar face to the Midcoast.
Tyler Patterson of Owls Head, a 2009 graduate of Rockland District High School, is the starting left tackle for the Black Bears, who currently are ranked 14th in the Football Championship Subdivision and 17th in the coaches' poll.
The Black Bears’ most recent win was an Oct. 5 62-28 drubbing of Delaware, which was ranked 24th in the nation prior to its loss to UMaine.
Listed as 6 feet 6 inches and 305 pounds, Patterson is the physically largest player on the team — and has made a huge impact for the state’s flagship collegiate football squad.
“We’re just all playing on the same page right now,” said Patterson. “The communication’s there [and] the discipline’s there and that’s led to success.”
Patterson played football and basketball (and did some track and field) during his years at RDHS and walked on to the Black Bear football team his freshman year and eventually earned a scholarship on the squad.
“Tyler had been a backup player for us last year and got a chance to play in various roles,” said Cosgrove of Patterson, who is one of 11 players from Maine on the team’s roster. “The amount of time and the extent of his experience was not significant in comparison to the other two seniors [on the line last year]. He was really a key developmental piece for us in the offseason.”
The Black Bears offensive line, which has allowed only six quarterback sacks all year, are ranked third in the Colonial Athletic Conference in total offense at 455.2 yards per game, rank second in passing (261.5 yards per game) and sixth in rushing (193.7 yards per game).
Cosgrove said the performance against the Blue Hens was the best effort the offensive line has had all season.
The Black Bears lost three players from the offensive line to graduation last year who were three-year starters, but Patterson has helped make that transition a favorable one.
“He’s done a great job,” said Cosgrove of Patterson. “And he’s gotten better every game. I think that’s the most important thing I can say is he continues to improve with the experience and that’s the way it can be. You’ve got to learn under fire. You’ve got to go in there and just play.”
Cosgrove said Patterson was "a guy we had known through our summer camps" and "we gave him an opportunity to walk on and he’s earned the [scholarship] money since he’s been here, which is attributed to his work ethic [and] his commitment to the program.”
Patterson started on the scout team as a redshirt freshman and eventually worked his way onto the field on special teams and eventually won the starting left tackle job in camp this year as a senior.
"It’s definitely a work in progress,” said Patterson. “You have to start from the bottom and work your way up.”
Patterson said “hours in the film room, as well as the weight room, staying up here [in Orono] over the summer and training with the team” has helped him make the transition from a Class C high school football player to a starter on a Division I football program.
For Patterson, the most significant difference on the gridiron between high school and college is a simple one.
“The biggest difference is speed and strength,” he said. “I mean everyone’s big, everyone’s fast and everyone’s athletic. You just have to match it with discipline, technique and strength.”
Patterson always had an outward personality during his days at RDHS, a trait Cosgrove said he still possesses.
“I think there’s that big smile and jovial personality and that side of him will probably never go away,” Cosgrove said. “And that’s a good thing. Those guys enjoy what they’re doing and that’s important. But he does have a serious side and he’s able to buckle his chin strap so to speak.
“You don’t really play [the game] with a smile on your face. This is a violent game and there are moments where you’ve got to get your hands dirty and go about your business in an intense way.”
Cosgrove said the Black Bears do not know if they’re where they thought they would be after six games, “but I don’t think we’re completely surprised either.”
“We’re usually on the down side looking up,” the coach said. “We’re not traditionally looked upon as one of the favorites in the league, so we have to take it week by week and I think this team has done that. They’ve stayed humble, they’ve stayed hungry and as we move forward we have to embrace and keep that mentality.”
“I think any team’s goal is to win it all,” Patterson said. “Every week we just try to go 1-0. Take every game as it comes. That’s our philosophy.”
The Black Bears return to the field to host William & Mary on Saturday, Oct. 19 in Orono in coordination with the university’s homecoming celebration. The game time is 12:30 p.m.
Associate Sports Director
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.
Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.
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