By Michael Bower
Patrick Zeller has known that he wanted to play football at a big-time college since he was 8.
The 2014 Del Norte High graduate recently got his wish, as Texas Christian University, a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school, offered the hybrid-style receiver a preferred walk-on spot.
Zeller, who also garnered interest from prestigious Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale, accepted the offer right away and leaves for TCU on Saturday. He will start working out with the football team on Aug. 1.
“It was strictly a football decision,” said Zeller, who will become the first player in the short history of Del Norte to play for a Division I FBS program. “I want to play football at the next level by any means and they are the best football school that recruited me and wanted me.”
Zeller worked out in front of TCU coach Doug Meacham at a Jeff Garcia Football Camp at Maranatha High School. Meacham offered him the preferred walk-on spot after Zeller put together an impressive performance.
That comes as no surprise, as the 6-foot, 205-pound Zeller was a star for the Nighthawks for four years. He leaves as the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards, receptions and receiving yards. He scored 28 touchdowns and was the first ever 1,000-yard rusher.
“I had an amazing time playing at Del Norte,” Zeller said. “I figured anything I would do would be first or at the top because I am the first one that started all four years. Somebody might break (the records) in the future, but it was a fun and unique experience.”
Zeller helped build the foundation of the Del Norte football program and in his final season the school won its first league title, sharing the Valley League crown with Mt. Carmel and San Marcos.
“Me along with a lot of really good friends and teammates did everything possible to build a football atmosphere at the school and make it known as a football school that can compete with anybody in the county,” Zeller said. “I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
Zeller said TCU plans on trying him out at the slot running back position. Zeller hopes he gets a chance to plat at the slot receiver spot. He likely will redshirt this upcoming season, but will have a chance to earn a scholarship for the following year.
“That is what I think will happen and what my family thinks will happen,” said Zeller when asked about red-shirting the first season. “I am a preferred walk-on so I might not get much attention or opportunities at practice, but hopefully I make the best of them. I feel strongly that I can compete with anybody there that has a full scholarship. In my eyes, anything can happen. I can get some playing time and work to get a scholarship the second year.”