Independence has a trio ready for impact
by Marc Goldstein, recruitNoVA
Independence High School in Loudoun County recently had three players participate in the recruit757 Spotlight Exposure Camp. In different sessions, Griffin Patterson (2021 TE/DE 6-5 220), Luke Rogers (2023 OL 6-4 328) and Brian Courtney (2022 QB 6-3 220) put work in.
Griffin is a tight end and defensive end that uses his monstrous figure to dominate players in his way on both sides of the ball. “I have been using a speed trainer recently so that when the time comes for me to do these things, I am ready,” Griffin said of the series of drills he was doing. He has been training for this opportunity, perfecting his craft. He explains, “I have been going to my speed trainer 2-3 times a week. Before school, after school, just to be ready for camps like this.” He also talks about how camps like the small camp he participated in recently are beneficial.“It just means more reps. More reps to show coaches what we can do. There isn’t much standing around and there are a lot more opportunities to show what we can do,” he says.
When asked about recruiting and what he thinks is most vital is to be proactive. “You can’t sit around, you have to hit coaches up, and reach out to them to get their attention. It’s also important to go to camps and to display your skills as much as possible,” he elaborates. He prides himself on being focused and always being the aggressor no matter what the situation is, offensively or defensively. He classifies his biggest strengths as his hands, being able to catch whatever is thrown his way and his ability to be a mismatch for defensive backs trying to cover him.
Luke, like his older teammate, makes sure that he is the hardest working player on the field at all times. He commented on the fact that it is important for him to get the work done at the camp. He says, “It is very important with Covid going around, the big camps were canceled so any exposure that you can get is good for you… At these small camps, there is more coach input and especially at these times, it is good to hear more coach feedback.” He thinks that his definition of a champion is someone who works their tail off to reach their end goal.
Luke has been watching football for as long as he can remember with his family. He says that when he was younger, he would watch the NFL and his mom would tell him what was happening and that just made him fall in love with the game. He thinks he has improved as a player by simply being around the game, saying, “I have been around some great people and better coaches.” He thinks that one of the most important things in football is character. He thinks that showing character can be something that everyone can do. Things like having restraint and not hurting one’s team can go a long way towards winning a game in his opinion. “One thing I strive to do is work hard after getting beat. If someone beats me I work twice as hard not to let that happen again. If he still beats me, I work four times as hard to make sure I don’t let it happen again,” he says on the topic of making sure he is prepared.
While it may seem like Independence has been playing for years, with an established culture and history, they have only been playing for a single season. They had their inaugural season last year, and according to quarterback Brian Courtney, they have made huge improvements. “Indy opened up last year, so no seniors. We all had to work hard and compete with everyone else out there… we came out there without any plays, didn’t know where people played, and had to start from scratch… we didn’t even have a playbook. We had to lift at Briar Woods High School at like 7 o’clock at night, then we had to get all the equipment there and everything,” Brian details. He talks about how the Tigers really improved from the first scrimmage to the last game, figuring out about themselves and how to make the most of everyone’s talent. As far as personal improvements, he admits that he still has places he can get better, such as his flexibility and mobility.
While Independence had no experience going into the season with a varsity football team, Brian was similar in the sense that he hadn’t dressed on varsity prior to last season. “From the first Friday Night Lights to the last game, you really see it all come together and I was really proud of how we improved as well as how I personally improved,” Brian says. He also says that VHSL’s decision to postpone fall sports is one that while it directly affects him, doesn’t affect anything as far as his mindset. “I believe in working harder than everyone else, and I’m still going to push myself, push my teammates the same way I would if we had a season,” he says.
Brian’s recruiting process has been one that he has been eagerly anticipating. He believes that by the time September 1st comes, and colleges can talk with players. He also thinks that small camps, like the one he attended recently, helps get his name out to colleges. “I understand that colleges can’t see everyone, but small camps like this one help,” he elaborates.
While Independence High School has a history of just one season, this does not mean they are a miserable team. Unlike many new teams, they have three building blocks for their culture to lead the next generations of Tigers in the right way. Griffin Patterson uses size and strength to dominate. Luke Rogers uses his work ethic and size to keep his quarterback on his feet. Brian Courtney uses his accuracy and mobility to help his team. All three of these players will help launch the Tigers into the future of this program just by being themselves and helping them establish Independence as one of the rising programs in Loudoun County.
– Marc Goldstein