Patchan Getting Comfortable

Matt Patchan came to Florida this spring wanting to play on both sides of the ball. He started on offense, but after a week, he moved to the d-line. With words of praise from Urban Meyer, Patchan now looks to land on the first team rotation for the fall.

Last season, it was freshman Michael Pouncey who moved from the offensive line to defensive line and raised the play of the defensive front. Five-star recruit Matt Patchan is now trying to do the same thing in 2008. Still trying to add strength and weight from an offseason shoulder surgery, Patchan is starting to feel more comfortable wearing the Orange and Blue.

"I like defense," the early enrollee said. "I feel like I can contribute there and make a contribution to the team."

Patchan started the spring at offensive tackle. But with two returning starters – Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins – returning and solid depth behind them, tackle may not have been the fastest route to the field in the fall for the former Seffner (FL) Armwood star. He now is in the mix at both defensive end and defensive tackle in obvious passing situations, and Urban Meyer has said he will play in the fall.

"He's a legendary coach and it's obviously great to have his support," Patchan said. "But it's a team effort and it's not just me. The whole defensive line is playing great and whenever the defensive line plays great it opens it up for someone else. We're making a lot of strides on the defensive line and looking to improve everyday."

The d-line started slow this spring, but ever since Patchan made the move, it's been playing much better. Part of it is because of his speed and intensity.

"I'm a big effort guy," he said. "All the time I was getting recruited I kept saying that I was going to give the best effort. It's great to come out here and play as hard as I can and try to lift the team up a little bit."

Even though he now finds himself exclusively on the defensive side, Patchan isn't giving up his dream to play on both sides in college. He still finds time to attend offensive meetings.

"I'm going to offensive meetings every day after defensive meetings, so I'm doubling up on that," Patchan said. "I'm trying to double up on everything. I think they're having me on defense now for a while. We'll see what the future holds for me."

With spring ball wrapping up, Patchan will focus this summer on regaining strength and weight. A shoulder injury suffered in the fourth game of his senior season and a bout with mononucleosis caused him to lose quite a bit of weight. He came to Gainesville at 235 pounds but is now up to about 250. He plans on getting his weight up to 265 for the fall.

"I haven't worked out for four months, so it will be great after this spring to start benching again," Patchan said. "Hopefully my strength will get up and I'll be able to squat again for the first time in over a year, which will be very helpful for me."

Over the final four spring practices, Patchan just hopes to get more comfortable with what he'll be doing on the Gator d-line.

"I've never put my left hand down before," he said. "I just have to get used to that and get more reps, and once I get used to that I'll be able to transfer my weight. I'm working towards that every day. I'm trying to improve on everything."

"I feel like I can accomplish all of my goals here at the University of Florida," he added. "So far, I think I'm on the right track. I thank the coaching staff because they've been honest with me the whole time. I've been honest with them, so it's been a great fit."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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