The interest from Purdue was growing stronger last fall. Canal Winchester (OH) High School standout Patrick Bookman felt he was close to his dream of playing Big Ten football.
As a high-school junior, Bookman first visited West Lafayette and fell in love with the Purdue program. His recruitment picked up from there, and his interest only grew stronger.
“I love the university,” Bookman said of Purdue. “It was one of the few universities that I felt at home on. I know I’m going to get a wonderful education there, and that’s huge. It’s not about the next four years; it’s about the next 40 years.”
Just as Danny Hope’s coaching staff expedited its recruitment of Bookman, then-Kent State assistant Marcus Freeman offered him a preferred walk-on spot with the Golden Flashes. Bookman had two of his favorite school turn into legitimate options for his future. Then, it appeared to fall apart.
Hope was fired from Purdue, and Kent State’s Darrell Hazell left to West Lafayette. Shortly after, Coach Freeman informed Bookman he would be leaving, too.
“I felt completely abandoned,” Bookman recalled. “I was like: ‘oh, crap.’ I worked my tail off to get here; now I don’t have much of an option.”
With his two choices out of the realm, Bookman went against his will and rushed a decision; he signed to Alderson-Broaddus College, a Division II program in Philippi, West Virginia. Yet, he wasn’t satisfied with his decision and the program wasn’t what he wanted. His fortunes would change.
New Purdue assistant coach Marcus Freeman called and offered him a preferred walk-on spot. His favorite school and most trusted coach became one, and an opportunity formed.
“Coach Freeman gave me a call and I was really excited and interested, of course,” Bookman said. “This is an opportunity for me to show them I’m capable of playing at this level and capable of being this guy.”
It became official on February 21, when his acceptance letter to Purdue came in. He immediately called Freeman and told him the good news.
“He was about as excited as I was, which was pretty neat,” said Bookman.
Bookman is recovering from a torn labrum which he suffered in week five of his senior season. He would play through the pain, but the injury would only worsen and surgery was required. Still, Freeman and the new Boilermaker staff stood by Bookman. He cherishes their relationship.
“If you’re going in as a walk-on, you don’t know what it’s going to be like,” he said. “When you have a coach along with you on your side, it means a lot.”