Ball State senior cornerback Eric Patterson has played a lot of football for the Cardinals over the past three seasons. Saturday's season opener will be his 33rd game competing in the program, and the veteran is coming off two solid seasons of play, one of which (2012) earned him All-Mid-American Conference third team recognition.
However, Cardinal coach Pete Lembo will be quick to tell you that the journey hasn't always been a smooth one of the talented Florida native. But the coach believes those rocky days are in the past, based on what he has seen from Patterson over the past year.
"(Maturation) definitely is a process," Lembo said. "I'd like to think that it's a combination of things. We've been very consistent in our approach with every player in the program, particularly with a guy like Eric. You keep your standards and expectations high and keep challenging guys to reach those.
"He's been in the system now for three years. And I'd also like to think that the light switch has gone on and all of a sudden three years have blown by and now you're a senior. He's going into the last year of his college career and there is a sense of urgency to be more consistent.