Nov. 1, 2001
by Joe Bayard
'I am blessed to be able to fulfil my dream and play a game I love,' says Husky senior wide receiver Patrick Reddick, clearly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of one of the nation's elite programs at Washington.
With the 2001 season of into full swing, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Reddick finds himself in a battle for playing time at perhaps the Huskies' deepest position. Last season, with senior Todd Elstrom the Huskies' only returning receiver with a career reception, Reddick saw substantial playing time, making key receptions to lead the Huskies to the Rose Bowl championship. In 2001, with an influx of young talent at the position and the switch of tailback Paul Arnold to wide receiver, Reddick is back battling again.
A fight for playing time is nothing for Reddick, however, who has endured a much more difficult battle over the past three years - a battle to save his knees.
A graduate of Newbury Park High School in Newbury Park, Calif., Reddick was a standout receiver. As a senior he earned Tacoma News Tribune 'Western 100' and All-SoCal honors, and was an All-CIF pick as a junior.
As a true freshman in 1997, Reddick was one of ten to play and one of six to earn a letter for the Huskies. Appearing in every game but one, he showed signs of being a key contributor for the Huskies at the flanker position. Following that season, however, the budding star began to notice pain in his knees.
'That was a very frustrating time for me, especially coming of a good freshman year and then have something like that occur. It was tough, you can't really put it into words,' he says.
Doctors found a cyst on Reddick's knee, and decided surgery was the only option. With a cast on his leg, Reddick was forced to redshirt the 1998 season. Reddick was frustrated watching the Huskies struggle in 1998, and was eager to return to the field to help his teammates. Reddick's eagerness cost him, however, as he attempted to return too soon and reinjured the knee, setting himself back a full season. Reddick was crushed.
'I didn't know how much rehab and conditioning you needed, as well as lifting, to get your leg back into physical shape,' he says. 'I just wasn't ready.'
Reddick had left high school a star, and had set the tone during his freshman season that he was a player to watch. For two seasons in a row, however, it was Reddick who watched, from the sidelines. It's logical to wonder if Reddick ever became so frustrated, that he pondered giving up the game for good.
'Never,' he says, emphatically. 'It never really came into play. I would never give up my dreams to play football. It's a dream to get back out there.'
The 2000 season arrived like a new dawn for Reddick. Fully rehabilitated, he was ready to take the field again, and with the Huskies hurting for depth at the wide receiver position, his return was well-timed. In an early-season game against Idaho, he stepped on the field for the first time in almost three full years.
'It was tough at first,' he admits. 'The whole rehabilitating process is all so mental. You want to go one-hundred percent, but in the back of your mind is the thought that you could re-injure your knee. On the other side, though, you're trying to prove to the coaches that you can play, and prove it to yourself.'
Being away from the game for such a length of time cost Reddick some of his natural football instincts, forcing him to ease back into the automatic mental checks a wide receiver must make on every play. Over the course of the season, though - like riding a bicycle - Reddick regained his instincts, and became a key contributor for the Huskies. In the Rose Bowl, Reddick saw extensive playing time, and made three key catches for 30 yards.
'It was great to be able to come back and play in the Rose Bowl,' he says. 'It was a goal of mine when I got here to play there.'
Now near the end of his football odyssey, Reddick has developed a new appreciation for the game he loves.
'It's all about having fun, just trying to make this last season as memorable as I can,' he says. 'I just want to go out every play and try and make something happen, to stay focused and help the team anyway I can.'
One of the hardest things for an athlete to endure is to watch from the sidelines while nursing an injury. For Patrick Reddick, however, the hardest thing would have been to give up his dream.