Patchan networking on recruiting trail

Life is good these days for Matt Patchan. He starts on both sides of the line for one of the top high school football programs in talent-rich Florida and he’s got most every Division I football program trying to recruit him. He’s using the recruiting process to make friends along the way.

If there is no football future beyond college for Patchan, a 6-7, 255-pound offensive tackle from Seffner Armwood, he might make someone a fine recruiting coordinator. He’s used his own recruiting process to network with the guys he meets along the way. His cell phone is filling up with new numbers and he stays in touch with so many of the top recruits across the country.

“I keep in touch with a lot of guys,” Patchan said. “Brendan Beal is a guy I keep in contact with. It’s important for me to keep up with what guys are going where. That’s as important of a factor as any. I want to know how many quality players are going to each college that I’m considering.”

Each trip he takes is a chance to expand his horizons with new relationships. On recent visits to Florida and LSU he’s made several new friends.

“I met Brendan Beal up there in Gainesville,” Patchan said. “That’s pretty cool and something that I really enjoy about these visits. When I was at LSU I met Arthur Brown, D.C. Jefferson and Patrick Johnson.”

Patchan probably has information the nation’s recruiting gurus would die for. He’s not looking to sell info, rather he’s using the things he hears to help shape a decision that will be made in time for him to enroll early.

“I love keeping in contact with a lot of guys,” Patchan said. “I get to see who is recruiting well on offense and defense. Once I do decide where I’m going, I’m looking forward to giving all of these guys a call to figure out if they’d like to come up and play with me.”

This is the time he has been waiting. Ever since he transferred to Armwood from Tampa Freedom, Patchan has eagerly waited a chance to help his team in the state playoffs. Although he missed a few weeks because of an injury, he’s healthy again and ready for the playoffs to begin.

“The team is doing really good,” Patchan said. “We’re 8-0 with Freedom coming up this week. It should be exciting since it’s our homecoming game and that is where I played last year. I had a little injury but I’ve rehabbed it and I’m good to go now. We’re all just jacked up and ready to play. We only have one more game after Freedom and that’s Middleton.”

Patchan took his second official visit to Baton Rouge for the LSU-Auburn game. The atmosphere was crazy but Patchan enjoyed every second of it.

“I had a lot of fun,” Patchan said. “That’s a great place to watch a game at. I had gone up for an unofficial visit this summer, but hanging out with some of the players and allowing my mom to see everything was big.”

With two official visits under his belt to arguably the two toughest places to play in the country, Patchan sees plenty of similarities between The Swamp and Death Valley.

“They’re both extremely loud and crazy,” Patchan said. “Once you’ve been to that upper echelon stadium where you have 80,000-90,000 people screaming at you, it gets to a point where you can’t hear a thing. I love it.”

Even though he loves what Gainesville and Baton Rouge offer with their game day experiences and home field advantage, that will not be the biggest factor in his decision.

“Those stadiums are great, but I’m not going to base my decision completely on that,” Patchan said. “They’re all just pluses that each school has. The biggest thing for me is a place I can have fun playing ball, have a great coaching staff, and play for a national championship.”

The first official visit for Patchan was September 29 to Gainesville when the Gators hosted the Auburn Tigers. Even though the Gators didn’t play their best that night, the stadium was absolutely electric and the coaching staff couldn’t have been happier with the overall atmosphere.

“I had a great time,” he said. “They didn’t play too well against Auburn, definitely not as well as they could have. They had a few plays where they hurt themselves early, and you can’t do that against an Auburn team with a good coach in (Tommy) Tuberville. In the beginning of the season Auburn wasn’t at full stride, but they’re a good team. They kind of remind me of the Arkansas team from last year that struggled a little bit at the beginning, but came on strong and played for an SEC championship.”

Patchan made so many trips to Gainesville before his official visit that he and the coaches didn’t spend much time on the academics or campus tours like most recruits see on their official visits. Instead the visit provided an opportunity for the Patchan family to spend time with the Florida coaching staff.

“I’d been up to Gainesville so many times before this that we didn’t focus much on academics,” Patchan said. “I had already seen that presentation a while ago. This visit was for me and my family to check out Florida again. I got to talk with some of the players and spent some quality time with the coaches.”

The final of Patchan’s three official visits will be November 10 when the Miami Hurricanes host Virginia. He is looking forward to his trip to Coral Gables, and is looking forward to seeing how the Canes finish off the rest of their season.

“It’ll be Miami’s last game in the Orange Bowl so that should be pretty exciting,” Patchan said. “I’ve watched a couple of their games this year. On defense, they’re young. Every time they give up points, it’s always on a blown coverage. There is always one person out of position. On offense, they’re getting a little better and making some strides.”

When the three official visits are completed, Patchan will begin to weed teams out until he reaches his final decision.

“I’m still planning on enrolling early and will most likely announce my decision in early January,” Patchan said.