Junior Offensive Tackle Enjoyed Illini Visit

Offensive linemen are the key to a successful offense. Without an offensive line, the quarterback has no time to throw, and the running back has no lanes to run through. Identifying offensive line talent is a difficult task, but one offensive lineman who has made it easy on college coaches is emerging 2011 prospect Patrick Flavin.

Patrick Flavin is a junior offensive lineman from Benet Academy in Lisle. Earlier this month he made an unofficial visit to Illinois and came away impressed.

"My first visit this fall was an unofficial to the U of I on October 10th and 11th for homecoming against Michigan State. They're not having that great of a year, but I still know Coach Zook is a great coach. I really like the coaches. I like Coach (Curt) Mallory and Coach (Joe) Gilbert the offensive line coach. I haven't watched all their games though I do try to follow them.

"I'm definitely looking forward to getting down there more and checking it out from more of a football standpoint. I really like the facilities, especially the new additions under the north end zone. I really like the weight room. That was impressive.

"The atmosphere was really great. I liked how it was sold out for homecoming and all the fans were into it. I know what a great school it is. I feel like every time I go down there I like the campus more and more. It's a college town and it's a big campus and it's not too far away. It's really the best of both worlds in terms of football and school."

Flavin had already seen the Illinois campus before his visit.

"A lot of my cousins go there, so I'm down there a lot."

The offensive lineman began to realize he could play division one football during his sophomore year.

"It crossed my mind when they asked me to play varsity my sophomore year. I played left and right tackle last year. I had the mindset that if I did well that year I could get things going and see where it went.

"Throughout last year, I heard coaches and other people outside the school tell me that I had all the physical tools, especially my height. I ended up having a good year last year in front of some scouts. Last February, I started getting letters from schools like Stanford and Notre Dame. With the amount of letters coming every day, I knew I could get a scholarship."

Flavin also made good use of his summer and made sure he got his name out to college coaches.

"This summer I went to college camps and combines that I did well in. I had recruiting services tell me that I was a Division I recruit. I went to Notre Dame for a camp. I tried to go to camps at Illinois and Northwestern, but I had conflicts.

"I did a combine called the National Underclassmen Combine. You start out regionally first. If you do well at every stage, you advance to the next round. I did well in the Illinois one and then I went to the Midwest one. There were maybe 30 linemen there.

"I did well enough to get invited to the national combine at Oklahoma University where the top 15 kids from each grade at each position were invited. It was competition I've never seen before. There were kids who could just do anything on the field."

The combination of a productive sophomore year and successful summer has made numerous schools interested in the 6'-7', 250 pounder.

"Stanford and Notre Dame were the two schools to get it going back in February. I'd say the biggest ones now are Notre Dame, Illinois, Arizona, and Vanderbilt as well as most of the Big 10 like Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern, and Michigan. I get a lot of mail from Nebraska and UCLA too.

"The Arizona coach is coming up, and Coach Mallory said he's coming up in December. I haven't gotten into any details about my position in college. I guess I assumed with my height and my length I'd be playing either right or left tackle."

Flavin has set up other visits besides Illinois.

"Northwestern and Vanderbilt will be my second and third visits. I'm going to Northwestern for their game against Penn State. On November 14th, I'll be going to Vanderbilt. Michigan invited me to all their games, but I haven't been able to make it yet. I'll try to get to one game. I also want to get to Notre Dame soon."

The East Suburban Catholic Conference standout grew up a Notre Dame fan.

"I grew up in the Notre Dame family. A lot of my family went there. My brother walked on as a center, but after a year they told him that his best chance to get into a game would be at long snapper. He's the backup long snapper now."

Though Notre Dame might have the early edge if they offered, Flavin wants to see what other schools have to offer.

"I'd say right now I'm taking visits and seeing what's up with each school. I think if Notre Dame offered they'd be the early favorite, but I would want to see what other schools like the U of I had to offer. I'd want to take my time and check out schools."

The Benet Academy Redwings were picked to finish last in conference in the pre-season polls. While they didn't qualify for the playoffs, they were a lot better than people thought going into the season.

"That was the biggest motivation this preseason. The coach told us it was based off of last year because we didn't do so hot. We knew what we could do with the team and obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted, but we were a better team than the newspapers said we were. We wanted to go out and prove everybody wrong.

"Last year we got a new offensive coordinator. He played at Benet. We were in the double wing before he was here, but now we run the spread. It's a lot more passing, and we have play action and such.

"It was a new thing last year, but this season we hit the ground running because we knew the schemes. It really showed. We were really doing well offensively.

"I think with the players we had this year it suited us pretty well. We had athletic offensive linemen, a quarterback who is a great passer but can also make plays with his feet, athletic running backs, and receivers who can make plays."

The starting left tackle will be counted on to provide leadership next year as the Redwings graduate a lot of starters.

"We do lose a lot of senior leaders next year, but we had a lot of younger guys step up early in the year and definitely later in the year. On offense, we return an offensive lineman, a running back, and two receivers. On defense, there's like six coming back with two on the defensive line, two linebackers, and two in the secondary."

Flavin and his teammates played against a handful of IHSA state qualifying teams. Who was the best team they played?

"Definitely Joliet Catholic. They're a powerhouse in the league, and they're always the team to beat. They make you beat them. They always play with an attitude and play tough. Marist is also really tough this year. Carmel is another team, but I think the hardest team by far was Joliet Catholic."

A starter on the varsity basketball team last year, Flavin has decided to not play this year and focus solely on football.

"I played basketball on varsity last year, but this year I was undecided on whether I wanted to play because I wanted to get stronger and put on weight. I decided not to play so I could put on some weight. I'll do a lot of offseason workouts to improve my game in all aspects like my footwork."

Like a lot of offensive lineman, Flavin does track and field.

"I've done shot put and discus since my freshman year. It's a thing a lot of the offensive linemen do. The offensive line coach is also the shot coach."

Offensive lineman don't get their fair share of the limelight but Flavin appreciates good line play. He has a couple favorites he's admired and watched.

"I got into watching Jake Long and Michigan. He was just solid at everything. His technique was amazing. If he was beat by a defensive end, he knew how to cut them.

"The quintessential lineman is Walter Jones. He's getting kind of old now, but his technique is still there. When I was growing up I read the story about Michael Oher from Ole Miss."

Patrick Flavin is only going to get better. As his recruitment heats up, he is sure to have his choice of places to play. In the end, the school that is able to secure his letter of intent is going to have a successful player on and off the field.

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