After Saturday’s game against New Mexico State, Kansas University freshman nickelback Tyler Patmon’s mother congratulated him on a victory.
The first words from his father, Todd, were a bit different: “Were you playing outside leverage on New Mexico State’s touchdown catch?”
Welcome to the life of a coach’s son.
“I think that’s probably one of the negatives of being a coach,” Todd Patmon said. “You see all the mistakes.
“Mom and grandma and aunts, they just see No. 33 out there running around, whereas dad, I’m probably more critiquing him than just being a fan.”
It’s a father-son relationship Tyler is used to by now.
Todd was his son’s secondary coach at Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, Texas.
“He was always tougher on me,” Tyler said. “There were times where I’d mess up in a game, I’d come to the sideline, and he would cuss me out in front of everybody. Then he’d send me right back out there to do my thing.”
Tyler, though, said he was fortunate to have his father pushing him from a young age.
When Tyler was just 5 years old, his father took him to a small hill just outside their apartment, working with him on his backpedaling. Todd would tell his son where to keep his chin and how to keep his footwork smooth.
Though Tyler played quarterback for a while, he switched full-time to cornerback in 10th grade. It was about that time Tyler began to dedicate himself to learning more about football.
Tyler, who pledged to KU before his senior season, made an even greater commitment to film study in his final months before college.
His high school, Vista Ridge, had played a 3-4 hybrid defense, while KU’s defense at the time was a 4-3.
So Todd grabbed all the tape he could find of 4-3 defenses — which included some of KU’s games — and began to teach his son about the 4-3.
He discussed all the reads he’d have at corner, where he would fit into the coverage and how offenses would try to attack a 4-3 defense.
If the two were going over a Cover-4 defense, he wanted Tyler to know who would be underneath him and what routes the offense most likely would run.
Tyler’s goal with the extra study was to play his true freshman year, and for a while that seemed like a possibility, as he was competing for the No. 2 cornerback spot in fall camp.
Todd and his wife, Shaun, already had bought plane tickets for the first game when Tyler called them a week before the season with disappointing news: He was going to red-shirt.
“He was crushed, and to be honest, we were crushed, too,” Todd said. “But it ended up being the best thing.”
Tyler put on another 10 pounds and also increased his speed during his year off.
Partly because of his high football IQ, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound red-shirt freshman made a quick transition from cornerback to nickelback in the spring and has started for KU the last two games.
Todd also has seen his son mature.
Because of Tyler’s competitiveness, there were times in high school when he’d get beat on a play and immediately would become angry.
Todd hasn’t seen that happen at KU.
“I’ve noticed that if he makes a mistake, he keeps his head up, and he tries to play to the next play,” Todd said. “That was always my biggest concern was, if he gets beat on national TV, how’s he going to respond? I think that the staff there at Kansas has done a great job.”
From his seat in the stands against New Mexico State, Todd could see that, on NMSU’s touchdown pass, Tyler had help from his safety on the inside.
Though Tyler said he slipped on the play, his father knew his technique wasn’t correct for that situation.
The next drive, Tyler played the correct technique and was able to shut down the NMSU receiver.
“I’m sure he probably wanted me to celebrate a little bit more, but that’s just kind of how our relationship is, and he knows that,” Todd said. “I’m going to be extremely hard on him, but we love him, so we’re going to keep that discipline on him as tight as possible.”
Tyler wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m going to become a better player,” he said, “and a better man out of it.”