Elysian Fields athletic director and head football coach, and 1988 Marshall High School grad, Scott Ford had a couple proud moments as a coach when two of his former players reached the NFL as Brandon Jones was drafted in the third round by the Miami Dolphins and Shea Patterson was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I had Brandon in the seventh and eighth grade in Nacogdoches and then Shea in the ninth grade at Hildalgo, so it’s been a while,” Ford said. “It’s pretty cool. I’m sure for most guys who coach, if they have one kid go to the NFL, that’d be pretty cool, but to have two get to the ultimate level, it’s pretty special.”
Over the years, Ford has stayed in touch with both families and there’s a mutual respect.
“Brandon’s got a great story,” Ford continued. “I don’t think I could do it justice on the phone.”
“There’s five of the boys,” Sarah Jones, Brandon’s mom said. “Brandon is No. 2 of the boys. Their dad was kind of sick of and on since the birth of my last child in 2006. We went to a lot of different doctors and got a lot of different diagnosis and it just kept getting worse and worse. He was finally diagnosed with liver cancer.
“By the time he was diagnosed in October of ‘10, he died three months later in January of ’11,” Sarah continued. “Brandon was in seventh grade, so he lived most of his teenage years without a father. I’ve been a single mother ever since.”
“Their dad passed away right before I got to Nacogdoches,” Ford said. “He actually had a brother who was a running back who was a tremendous player. I ended up picking up that kid (Brandon) a lot to take him to school after his dad passed away.
“He was head-and-shoulders the best player there,” Ford continued. “He had all the intangibles and made everyone else around him better. For him to be a third-round-draft pick to the Dolphins, hey, does it really get any better than that for a kid who’s that good and had gone through that much with his dad passing away and his mom raising four boys? It’s a lot of gratification and good feelings for both families to see their kids be successful.”
Ford has a lot of confidence in Patterson’s ability to succeed at the next level.
“When Shea came out of high school, he was the No.1 quarterback in the nation,” Ford recalls. “He bumped around a bit and played for a bunch of different coordinators and ended up being the quarterback at Michigan.
“I think if that kid gets a chance and learns the system, he’s going to be a starter in the NFL. It may not be in Kansas City with Patrick Mahomes but Shea is not that far behind Mahomes, I can assure you. Andy Reid’s track record is pretty good with quarterbacks, so hopefully that will be a blessing for Shea. He can land on his feet and learn a system and whether it’s there or somewhere else, he’s very, very, very talented. I think it’s a great place for him to land.”
“He handled it just like a professional,” Sean Patterson, Shea’s dad said when asked how his son handled things during the draft despite not hearing his name called. “I was really proud of him. He’s in the middle of doing virtual workouts with the world champs. He couldn’t have gone to a better spot.”
Before becoming the quarterback of the Wolverines, Shea moved from the Midwest to South Texas.
“We moved from Ohio down to Texas where he played at Hildalgo for one year,” Patterson said. “That’s where he played for coach Ford. We had watched coach Ford coach at Los Fresnos. I used to take him to the high school teams when Shea was in sixth or seventh grade because we loved watching him coach and loved the way his teams played. He played for coach Ford his freshman year and then I got transferred to Louisiana and Shea won two state championships there. He was the No. 1 quarterback in the country.”
Sean said throughout his son’s football journey, Shea has remembered valuable life lessons taught by Ford.
“I remember the first game Shea started as a freshman,” Sean said. “I saw coach before the game and I said, ‘Well coach, what are we going to do here? Are we going to ease him into it?’ He goes, ‘No, we’re throwing the kitchen sink. We’re coming out swinging it.’
“We beat a team we weren’t supposed to beat and he had like four or five touchdown passes in the first half. We had like 35 points in the first half.
“I think those lessons that he taught Shea at a really young age were kind of how I grew up and a lot of people grew up, so in situations like where you lose a big game or win a big game, he was always prepared for it and partly because coach Ford helped prepare him for life, not just football,” Sean continued.
“Brandon and Shea were the best players by far their age in the district,” Ford said.
“He was an awesome coach,” Sarah said of Ford. “He actually coached both my two older boys and they really loved him. He’s a great man, a great coach. He was great to my family and loved my boys. I’ve always respected him and we’ve always kept in touch with him all these years.”
“Those young men were kids when I coached them and just to see them do the things they’ve done and get to the level they’re at, both get degrees and both get to compete at the highest level, that’s pretty cool,” Ford concluded.