Patchan is a Gator

The nation's fourth highest rated non-committed player is off the board. Five-star 6-7,270-pound Seffner (Fla.) Armwood High School star Matt Patchan is the nation's No. 15 ranked player according to Patchan, also the fourth highest rated offensive tackle, said this was the hardest decision of his life.

"I picked the University of Florida because I think I can accomplish all of my goals there," Matt Patchan said. "I feel like Florida gives me the best opportunity to win, and I know that if I come in and work my tail off, the coaching staff will develop me to the best of my potential."

Head coach Urban Meyer and Recruiting Coordinator Chuck Heater also played a pivotal role in Patchan's decision.

"They are great guys, great coaches," Patchan said. "I'm looking forward to playing for them. I can't wait to get to Gainesville because I know those guys are going to make me what I want to be."

The decision, however, did not come lightly to Patchan.

"The thing that people need to understand about this entire process is how torn I was," Patchan said. "I grew up a huge Hurricane fan and that was my life and that's where I wanted to play football, but there are other schools that offer opportunity as well and it has been tough. I have not had a leader and know that I could do great things at both Florida and Miami and be the kind of player that I want to be, it has been the hardest decision of my life for me to make."

With the decision being such a difficult one, Patchan came up with certain criteria that the schools needed to meet.

"They are in this order, talent around me to grow the program, a great relationship with my position coach, a great strength program and the ability to compete for national titles," he said. "My family and I did tons of research. We looked at past and present rosters, position where coaches were at in the past, things they did with the talent that they had and how certain people reacted and talked to previous players and all kinds of other things."

The recruiting process has certainly been tough at times on the rest of the family but Mr. Patchan, a former standout at the University of Miami, knows that they are very fortunate to be going through this.

"I am absolutely thrilled for Matthew and the rest of the family to be in this position," he said. "He has worked extremely hard but has been blessed with God given talents and has had the benefit of some great coaching throughout his career."

Mrs. Patchan is equally as excited as her son is about to go on this journey.

"I am so excited and proud of what Matt has been able to accomplish and this is a very emotional time right now for our entire family but especially me," she said. "I love him so much, and I will probably cry when I watch him officially make his announcement. I remember when the recruiting process began when he was a sophomore. Back then it was fun, exciting and new and even into his junior season, it was still kind of the same way, but this year has been a little crazy for all of us with more coaches and people calling all the time. It has definitely been a long and hard journey and we have had our ups and downs so we are glad that this is finally going to be over. We are very confident that we have all the necessary information to allow him to make the best possible choice."

While it has seemed like a roller coaster ride of emotions, Patchan has been able to keep it all in check.

"I always felt like I was in control of the situation," Patchan said. "It comes with the territory. If you don't want to talk to anyone you don't need to answer the phone you can call them back whenever you want on your time. The other thing that I tried to do was remain unbiased on all of my trips because everywhere you go it's their job to make you feel like you are the only special player in the world and you must know that going in or you can get caught up in the hype. You can't base your decision on how they treat you on your visits you must read through all of that because once you get on campus you are a nobody working with the scout team."

"As a family we are very verbal with each other," Mrs. Patchan said. "It has been such a long road and that's the only way we knew how to deal with it. We let each other know exactly what the others are thinking at all times about each of the schools that he was looking at. This wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. Some days I say I am glad I am not in his place. We don't want to choose for him, Matthew had to make this choice where he feels like its right in his heart and that will be the right place for him. I think we would have decided earlier if we knew it was going to be like this for the last three years with the constant bombarding of phone calls."

What made this situation a little different from other recruiting scenarios are the ties between the Patchan family and the University of Miami. Mr. Patchan not only played beside current Hurricane head coach Randy Shannon, but so did Patchan's uncle, Danny Mariscal. Mariscal played linebacker for Miami from 1984-1988. He has been a major part of the decision-making process.

"We are a close family and it was my honor because Matthew asked me to be a part of the process," Mariscal said. "He knows all about the Miami program. He grew up knowing everything about Miami environment. We as a family have been objective in this decision making process. You got to eliminate the emotional side of the deal. He is a family member, we love him, and we would not put him in a situation that would be detrimental to his career. We all want what's best for him. I don't think you can get all the way away from the emotional side, but you have to try as a family member."

"I went with Matthew on his official visit at the University of Florida and actually went back a few more times," Mariscal added. "I told Matthew that I couldn't get a good feel for the program after one visit, so I ended up going a couple of times to try and be a part of things and see how the future looks like and how Matthew would fit into the program. You can't look at what's going on at a program right now. It doesn't mean it will be that way two or three years down the road. A lot of people asked us about stability within the program from a coaching standpoint and before you can look at that you must look at the staff and see if they believe in Matt and then you can look at stability. In college football, there is no such thing as stability. Today only two coaches have it and its Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno."

Another high profile player had a close watch on this situation over the last couple of months. Current committed and No. 2 ranked strong side linebacker Brendan Beal looks to room with Patchan at Florida.

"I am very excited and we have become great friends and ever since we met, we clicked," Beal said. "We can't wait to get down there and establish something that will last a lifetime. We are both weight room warriors, and we will win a national championship. The sky is the limit so you never know with us. The thing about Matt and I is when we set our minds to accomplish something it is going to happen. We are both very determined in that respect."

Determination is exactly what Patchan has and needs. That quality is a must especially with his aspirations of playing both sides of the ball at the next level.

"It was very important for me from day one that people understood I was adamant about playing both sides of the ball," he said. "Most people say you can't do that and all you get is these bad comments, but I believe that it can be done and it will be done and I will prove to everyone that I can do it. I want to do it badly to help the team as much as I can."

Questions or comments? Contact's Jason Higdon

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