A Division I safety target, Des Moines Roosevelt's Jamison Patton aims to show he can play QB, too

Tommy Birch
Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Roosevelt football team is wrapping up an August practice with seven 40-yard sprints.

Roughriders coach Jared Barnett stands a few yards away from the players as they line up on the sidelines. As soon as Barnett blows his whistle, they all take off. Junior Jamison Patton is one of the first to shoot by him on the field. 

"He’s got a little 'go to' to him," Barnett says as he watches Patton sprint by. "He’s a straight-up playmaker."

Patton, who is among the first to finish every sprint this day, is typically out front in most sprints and drills, Barnett said.

But Patton isn’t just trying to outrace his teammates.

He’s got something he wants to prove.

Already getting Division I interest as a safety, Patton wants to show he can play college quarterback, too. And he wants to show that he can win big at Roosevelt.

The 2021 season is his chance. 

"I’m ready to get out there," Patton said.

Des Moines Roosevelt quarterback Jamison Patton has a lot to prove this season. Iowa State is the only Division I school to offer him a scholarship so far.

Patton nearly got poached from Roosevelt

The 2020 season was a big opportunity for Roosevelt, which was coming off a 2019 campaign that saw the Roughriders reach the playoffs for the first time in 23 years.

But they barely got the chance. Roosevelt played just two games before the remainder of the season was shut down when Des Moines Public Schools suspended in-person learning and activities due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Then, in November, Roosevelt coach Mitchell Moore took the head coaching job at Iowa City High School.

It all took a toll on Patton, who wondered if he should leave Roosevelt, too. He watched players who had their seasons canceled due to the pandemic throughout the state and country transfer to other schools — including notable out-of-state Iowa additions in Ankeny's Arland Bruce IV and West Des Moines Valley's Jake Rubley. Patton's Roosevelt teammate, Finn Claypool, transferred to Dowling.

Patton had his chance, he said. Two schools reached out to him about transferring. He talked it over with his family. The temptation to leave was strong. Another school could offer him a chance to play in 2020, get more film, more exposure. He could play on a bigger stage with a better opportunity to win.

But his dad, Kourtney, who also went to Roosevelt, looked at it from another angle. He talked to Jamison about the unique opportunity the Roughriders offered. Sure, Jamison could go to a bigger school, a more established football program, and gain more publicity. But by staying at Roosevelt, he could make a name for himself.

He could change the perception of Roosevelt athletics forever. 

"I told Jamison, 'You could be the footprint for Roosevelt where kids will want to go to Roosevelt,'" Kourtney said.

As a sophomore last year, Jamison was already well on his way to being that type of athletic role model at Roosevelt. He started as a freshman and sophomore on the baseball and basketball teams. He was quickly turning into a football star, too, getting snaps at safety and quarterback on the Roughriders' varsity team as a freshman and then starting at quarterback as a sophomore.

He decided to stay and try to transform Roosevelt into a consistent winner. 

"It's really all about putting on for Des Moines schools, putting on for Roosevelt and showing that we've got a lot of talent here in the metro," Barnett said, "because we don't get a lot of respect."

Des Moines Roosevelt junior quarterback Jamison Patton warms up prior to the start of football practice at Roosevelt High School on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Des Moines.

Patton wants to prove his value at quarterback

Patton's profile on the recruiting road really took off during a visit to one of Iowa State's camps on June 8. He turned in a nice performance at quarterback but was invited back to another camp the next day to work out at safety. Patton played so well, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell offered him a scholarship at safety.

The Cyclones are Patton's only Division I offer so far. But more are likely to come. He said he's heard from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas State. They are all interested in him at safety. The only offer he's gotten to play at quarterback is from junior college powerhouse Iowa Western.

But Patton believes the lack of quarterback interest is only because of the limited playing time he got behind center as a freshman and in the shortened sophomore season. 

"They really haven't seen me play a whole season at quarterback," Patton said. "I haven't really shown my talents here. They’ve seen a glimpse of it." 

MORE: Patton, 11 other Iowan 2023 QB prospects poised for big things

That glimpse has been impressive. Patton completed 31 of 59 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns in last fall’s two-game season. He also ran for 62 yards and three more scores. Patton nearly guided Roosevelt to season-opening upset win over powerhouse West Des Moines Valley. A week later, he led the Roughriders to a dominant win over Des Moines East. 

Barnett, who played quarterback at Iowa State, is in his first year with the Roughriders. But he's already seen plenty of promise in Patton, who he said can throw out of every arm slot accurately and knows how to read and understand what opposing defenses are planning to do.

"He really has all the tools that he needs to be a successful Division I quarterback," Barnett said. "It's just now having that opportunity to show everybody else besides us that are in the building and see it in practice every day."

Patton will have that chance this season. He'll play quarterback and safety for the Roughriders. While he understands that teams are gravitating toward his athleticism and see him as a safety right now, Patton wants to prove them wrong about his skillset at quarterback.

Don't get him wrong — he's willing to play anywhere at the next level.

But he's hoping to at least get a chance to prove his merit behind center. 

"I'm trying to balance it out," Patton said. "They really haven't seen me as a quarterback for a full season. So, maybe it'll change some colleges' minds where they want me at." 

That's why Patton has been so motivated this summer. He's got so much to prove.

He spent part of the summer working out with Roosevelt offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Ernst Brun Jr. Brun, who also played football at Iowa State, is Roosevelt's head strength coach, too. When Patton wasn't with Brun over the offseason, he was working out by himself at a local gym or the Roosevelt track. Kourtney Patton said his son would usually be out the door by the time he got up for work at 5:30 a.m.

"Football is something he loves to do," Brun said. 

Patton believes football can take him a long way. How far? Time will tell. Brun said he sees Patton not only as a Division I quarterback, but a Power 5 quarterback. Other teams may also see that eventually.

That's why the 2021 season is so big for Patton. It's a chance to prove everyone that doubts him and Roosevelt wrong. 

"It's going to be a huge season for him," Barnett said. 

Tommy Birch, the Register's sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He's the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at tbirch@dmreg.com or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.