"I didn't have any offers," Ekbatani said. "It was a weird deal. Recruiters would come by and would love me but none of them were able to convince their head coaches to offer me. It just didn't work out."
Nick Ekbatani believes he knows some of the reasons for his lack of offers at this time last year.
"I was kinda small and I kinda lacked a lot of good technique," he said. "If you're only 240 pounds like I was back then you better play with some good technique. The extra year has really helped."
Ekbatani, who began playing football as a freshman, graduated H.S. in May and enrolled at LA Harbor College for the fall semester.
"I actually considered walking on at Cal for the start of the season," he said. "But the coaches at Harbor told me that I shouldn't make a decision I may later regret. They told me I could earn a scholarship and that's exactly what has happened. I worked with a great coach this year and put a lot of time in the weightroom. I'm 285 (pounds) now and I have learned some new techniques and things like that. It's worked out very well."
The talented lineman, who also wrestled and played volleyball in high school, began getting recruiting attention early in the season.
"After my first game, the University of Kentucky came out of nowhere and offered me a scholarship," he said. "It was real flattering. Then came Washington. I figured that's cool because I had two real good options. Then about three weeks ago Miami started calling out of nowhere. Then UCLA. Then they both came through and offered me a scholarship. It's been awesome."
Ekbatani took an official visit to Kentucky over Thanksgiving weekend. He spoke about that.
"It was real nice," he said. "It's a real nice college. They're a growing team. I think you're going to have a good team in the future but they're still building. Plus, they were my first offer as I mentioned."
Following a weekend visit to Kentucky, Ekbatani made the trek across the country for a visit to UM.
"It was my first time there and I loved it," he said. "I really fell in love with Miami on my visit. They're sitting at the top of my list right now. I really like the coaches. I love that place. It's Miami. I really liked the academics. They have a great business school. The facilities are great, especially for a smaller university. I feel like I just fit in really well with the team."
Ekbatani got along very well with several UM coaches and players. He spoke about that.
"I hung out with Coach Coker and Coach Kehoe almost the entire weekend," he said. "I love Coach Kehoe's attitude. I play with that same passion and intensity that he coaches with. I feel like it'll be a good mix. As for the players, I hung out mostly with Kyle Wright, Jon Rochford, and Eric Winston. They're great guys and I really got along with a lot of them."
Next up on the visit schedule is Washington this weekend, followed by a trip to UCLA the weekend of the 16th.
"With Washington, I really like them because they are on the rebound and seem to be on the way up," he said. "UCLA is the local favorite. They're in my backyard pretty much. It would be nice to play football and go to school close to home but that really won't play a big role in my decision. I have to do what's best for me. My family understands that and they're going to support me wherever I end up."
Ekbatani, who will enroll for the spring semester beginning in January, will have four years to play three. He sees that as a positive, especially if he ends up at Miami.
"What really caught me was that they're graduating four offensive linemen this year," he said. "The guys they return at my spots are pretty much in the same grade as me. I was told that if I come in there and work my butt off then I am capable of winning a starting spot. I'm coming in the spring and if I could go in and earn a starting spot one day for Miami, that would be a dream come true."
Another positive thing Ekbatani learned about Miami is their success with some Junior College players over the years.
"Coach Coker came to my school a week after they started talking to me," he said. "He was telling me how they don't take many Juco players but some of the ones they've taken have turned out to be big time players. He threw out names like Bryant McKinnie and Jeremy Shockey and that was flattering to me. It showed me that they don't bring in many but when they do, they're usually pretty serious with who they bring in."
Ekbatani, who says his best position is right tackle, talked about what makes him different than most other OL prospects.
"I'm real athletic," he said. "It's been weird because I was touted that way because I was small but as I got bigger, I actually got faster. And the other thing is that I work hard, very hard. I'll do anything to reach a goal of mine."
One of those goals could be playing for the University of Miami one day.
"December 19th is the mid-year JC signing day," he said. "That's when it'll become official. I really love Miami right now but I want to explore my other options these last few weekends."
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