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June 19, 2014

Patrick overcomes tragedy, shines in Baltimore

MORE: Complete Five-Star Challenge coverage

BALTIMORE - For most prospects at the 2014 Rivals100 Five Star Challenge Presented by Under Armour, the feeling of being able to display their talents against the best competition in the country was all positive. But for Jacques Patrick, things weren't so clear. In fact, the decision to even show up was a difficult one.

Earlier in the week of the Five Star Challenge, Patrick, a five-star running back from Orlando (Fla.) Timber Creek, lost a close friend. He was faced with two options: attend the camp or attend the funeral.

He thought of what his fallen friend, Aaron Underwood, would have wanted and decided to make the trip to Baltimore. While Patrick was competing in 7-on-7 drills on Sunday, his friend was being laid to rest nearly 900 miles south.

"It was a tough week for me," Patrick said. "I just want to come out here and compete and this is an opportunity I couldn't turn down, even though I lost my friend. I'm going to say my prayers for his family."

Patrick befriended Underwood almost two years ago, when Underwood was on the Timber Creek wrestling team and was close with Patrick's older brother, Javonte Seabury. The three often spent time together what most their age do -- hanging out and playing video games.

Underwood saw the potential in Patrick and let him know.

"He always told me to stay positive and on track because he knew I could do big things," Patrick said.

And Patrick continues to do big things. At the Five Star Challenge, he shined amongst the 108-player field, earning the camp's top performers honors for running backs. He outran his competition in one-on-ones, displayed his receiver skills and did all the things that have earned him offers from Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and many others.

"Of course he's motivating me (to do well at the camp)," Patrick said of Underwood. "For me to not be at his funeral and not put on a show, that would make no sense to me, you know? So I want to put on a show and smile up at the sky."

Patrick's weekend performance was dedicated to the Underwood family, and Patrick will continue to pay tribute to his friend during his senior football season by wearing tape that reads "138," which is the weight class Underwood wrestled in.

"It's sad that he's gone but I know he's in a better place."

Adam Krohn is a Southeast Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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