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Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl 2012: Tampa native Eric Patterson set to lead Ball State

Tampa native Eric Patterson is ready to lead the Ball State Cardinals against the UCF Knights Friday in the 2012 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

Brett Deering

When he steps on the field for the 2012 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Ball State sophomore cornerback Eric Patterson will look to have another big performance in front of his hometown crowd and show South Florida what they're missing.

In an interview with Joel Anderson of the Tampa Bay Times, the Plant High alum told Anderson that an unnamed USF assistant came up to him before National Signing Day in 2011 and said that he was too small to earn a scholarship with the Bulls and should look elsewhere.

Patterson used those words as motivation as he went up to Ball State, and he showed the Bulls' coaching staff what they missed out on when he caught the game-clinching interception in the Cardinals' 31-27 win over the Bulls earlier this season.

Patterson started nine games for Ball State this year, totaling 60 tackles and two interceptions. Patterson and the BSU coaching staff said that it was difficult for Patterson to adjust to the slow pace of Muncie, Ind., not focusing in the classroom and giving inconsistent play on the field. But something clicked for Patterson over the offseason and everyone has seen the difference.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.