Football journey: Patrick Chung


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Safety Patrick Chung was the Patriots’ top draft choice in 2009, selected at the top of the second round (34th overall). The pick was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for quarterback Matt Cassel and outside linebacker Mike Vrabel.

Chung’s spent most of his rookie season in a backup role, but he’s broken out this season. No Patriots safety has played more, and he also had one of the great special teams performances in recent NFL history with a blocked punt and field goal against the Miami Dolphins.

Chung’s high-energy approach on the field contrasts his demeanor off the field.

“I’m the most laid-back person in the world,” he says. “Totally opposite from the field. I save my energy for work, come home, watch film, chill out. That’s just me.”

The 23-year-old Chung, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, shares his football journey with ESPNBoston.com:

When he first started playing football: “I didn’t start playing tackle football until my freshman year of high school. I played flag football in eighth grade. Up to that point, I was all soccer. When I got to the States, I didn’t really know what football was; I didn’t understand it, I didn’t know what a receiver was. They put me at receiver and safety and running back. I was 12 turning 13, and just went from there. I went to college at 16. I was young. Graduated at 21.”

Why he didn’t play football right away after moving to the States when he was 10: “I liked it and wanted to try it, but my mom wanted me to swim. My dad was like, 'Go ahead and try it.' I tried it and liked it. I kept going from there, I guess.”

Top football memories at Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High School: “I played on the freshman team as a freshman. As a sophomore I was on junior varsity; at the end of sophomore year I went to varsity, the last two games. My freshman year, I had an 80-yard run. And my first kickoff return [for a touchdown]. I ran the kicker over. The kicker was bigger than me; I remember I was little.”

Why he chose to attend Oregon: “Different color fields and jerseys. I committed before I even went on the trip. I just liked it. Of course, I didn’t just jump into it. I thought about it, but that’s where I wanted to go. I like Oregon. It’s close to home. It got me.”

Other college opportunities: “Wyoming was the first to offer me. Boise State. Utah. Colorado State. I want to say that was it.”

Top memories of Oregon: “I have a lot of good memories. The best feeling, team-wise, was when we blocked a field goal against Oklahoma my red-shirt sophomore year. Craziness. It felt like the stadium blew up. That was cool.”

NFL player he admired: “Brian Dawkins. That was my dude right there. I just liked how he played.”

Entering the NFL as a second-round draft choice: “I cried like a baby. It was good. Nine, 10 years of work and one phone call. That’s pretty much how I describe it. You’re working for so long, your parents sacrificing, and then that phone call comes. It’s craziness. Then you realize it’s just another step. It’s not like you made it. Now I have to show these guys what I can do, just like high school, just like Oregon. It just takes time. You have to be humble and keep working hard. Everything will be fine, no worries.”

Summing up his first year-plus with the Patriots: “I love the organization, the team, the players. As far as me maturing and doing things football-wise, I’m OK. I have a long way to go. That’s how I feel. I’m always trying to keep going instead of getting complacent.”

Favorite NFL moment so far: “Playing in the snow. That was my first time playing in snow like that.”

Toughest NFL moment so far: “Any loss is tough, but the toughest moment? Yet to come. Everything is good so far.”

Impressions of New England region: “I like it. I’ve been to all hot states, so I like the snow. Cold is very cold, but I like the snow. I’m like a change-up guy. I’ve been in heat -- I went from Jamaica to Florida to California to Oregon. I’ve learned to adapt. I like different. I don’t like being hot all the time. You need some rain and some good sleet [laughing], and in the snow you can have fun. It’s cool.”

On where his journey goes from here: “I don’t know yet. I have a lot more years hopefully. Life is a forever journey. I don’t know where it’s taking me. I just know I’m going to try to take the right paths.”