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Highly touted running back among seven new recruits at Queen’s

May 2, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Jonah Pataki is fully aware of what awaits him this fall, when he arrives for his first training camp with the Queen’s Golden Gaels.

There’s not a lot of room at his position, where the incumbents include Ryan Granberg, a tailback with all-star credentials, and Jesse Andrews, who rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the two games he started last year.

“I know that,” he said. “I’ve got to compete.

“I obviously respect those two but I’m going to work hard to steal reps from them.”

It’s precisely that attitude, the willingness to embrace a challenge, that endeared Pataki to Gaels coach Pat Sheahan, who managed to spirit the young running back out of Wallaceburg, Ont., from under the noses of the Windsor Lancers and past recruiters from seven other OUA schools.

“It’s not just whether you can carry the ball or block somebody,” Sheahan said yesterday, at a media event where Pataki was one of seven incoming freshman introduced to the media. “It’s got to be a match.

“You’ve got to have the requisite personality traits to survive here, and I’m not just talking about what goes on on the weekends, either. I’m talking about what happens Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 and 4. You’ve got to be able to do better than survive. You have to want to thrive in that environment.

“It’s individuals like that, who are also extremely motivated to have a high profile athletically, who succeed.”

Sheahan, who also announced that tackle Seton Battin of Otterville, Ont., wide receivers Alex Coutu of St. Catharines, Munashe Masawi of Peterborough and Justin Saddlemyre of Burlington, defensive lineman Zac Sauer of Ayr, Ont., and defensive back Josh Tait of Brantford would be joining the program in August, said the recruits share one common trait.

“This wasn’t just a football decision for any of these guys,” he said. “The right to wear Queen’s colours is a privilege that they’re all looking forward to but I think they’re looking beyond that, to those intrinsic qualities that being a Queen’s grad brings.”

Indeed, Sheahan said, in Pataki’s case, his first conversation was almost entirely about academics.

“My philosophy in recruiting is quite gentle,” he said. “Once we identify a young man who’s got some desirables, we want to find out what he wants to do with his life and (determine) how can we facilitate that. How can we match him up with a program that can meet his needs?

“Jonah wasn’t sure whether a degree in kinesiology was what he wanted and when we started to talk about our physical education program here, which is a little bit different, it was exactly what he was looking for.”

Pataki was determined to find the right program. He played on a provincial team that played in Texas in February that was coached by Ryan Bechmanis, the defensive co-ordinator at Carleton. Despite the advantageous recruiting opportunity that created there was never any chance of going to Carleton, Pataki said, because it doesn’t offer phys-ed.

Nonetheless, Pataki said, there was more to his decision than classrooms and course material.

“There were a lot of schools that were closer but I was also looking for the right fit, in terms of football, tradition, and (Queen’s) felt right to me,” he said, adding the seed began to germinate when he came to Kingston for a game last fall.

“The band, the plaid,” he said. “I really liked that.”

He even managed to convince his mother, a physiotherapist and a Western grad, it was the right choice.

“She agrees with my decision,” he said, “but she has a friend who’s all over me all the time.”

 

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