Could a former son return home?

And there he was, Blake Pritchard, and it looked like he could put the pads on now and just hop in and play in Lincoln last week. You wouldn't have guessed that he was presently a high school junior at 6-foot-6 and nearly 300 pounds. The standout defensive tackle hails from Nebraska and has a lot of ties to the university.

Blake Pritchard from Jacksonville (Flor.) Sandalwood was in Lincoln, Nebr. this past week to take in practice. He might have had some time on spring break, but there were some other reasons for him to be there. In case anyone didn't know, Pritchard is from Omaha.

"I just came back," Pritchard said. "I just got back from Nebraska yesterday. I grew up in Omaha. I moved after my freshman season at Omaha Central."

Pritchard is familiar with everyone at Central. "Harland Gunn is my girlfriend's cousin. I grew up with Gunn. I know Ronnell Grixby. I know D.J. Jones, I saw him around, but I didn't really talk to him."

"I went to visit my family there; it was our spring break. My uncle is like with the Alumni Association so he took me up there. It was an unofficial visit. I had been up there before. I was up there last year. Me and the coaches are on a first-name basis, they all know me."

Another reason Pritchard might be closer to the program than the average player is because of his ties to the team. His father is a former Husker and played in the NFL. Not to mention an uncle that also played for Nebraska.

"My dad and uncle played there. My dad was a defensive tackle in the late 80's. His name is Joe Sims. He went onto the NFL and played offensive line for the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. Be blocked for Brett Favre. My uncle is MacCathorn Clayton. He played quarterback for Nebraska and then he went to cornerback his senior year."

Are the ties to Nebraska enough to get him to want to leave the state of Florida? "Yeah, just because my dad and uncle played there. My family is from there. I know the area. The coaches are real cool. I like it a lot. But, Florida State and Miami are sending me letters and I like all of the Florida schools. I might want to stay real close."

Pritchard is still waiting for that first offer, but it is his and his coaches' thoughts that once the spring evaluation period comes around that the offers will begin to roll in. "Unfortunately I don't have any offers yet, but when all of the teams come out in the spring we think that will change.

One reason the offers might not be there was because Sandalwood couldn't put it together last year. Pritchard believes that things will be different this year though. "We went 5-5, but we had injuries and we just had a bad year. Next year though, our whole team is returning. We're thinking about state. We're thinking that we can be state champs."

Pritchard may have been a little out of position last year. He has dropped some weight and is looking forward to not protecting quarterbacks this year, but getting after them.

"I played offensive tackle last year, but I was 310 or 320. I've slimmed down and I am weighing about 296. Now I am a defensive tackle, my coach has me down as a defensive tackle, and has me playing defensive line. I see myself as a defensive tackle. I just love playing defensive line and getting after the quarterback. I didn't play it this year because a lack of offensive linemen."

Playing defensive tackle is just something that Pritchard feels he is natural at doing. "It's fun and I'm smart on the field. I don't think that I can be blocked. At the camp, I slipped up and ran a 5.5/40. I didn't run too well. But, when I got in the one on ones no one could stop me. I didn't lose one. I am going to another camp at Boca Raton."

The rest of the summer plans to be a busy one for Pritchard. "I am going to the Scout camp, Nike camp, Nebraska's three day camp, and a lot of other schools have invited me to their camps, but I don't know where I am going yet for sure. It's going to be a busy summer working out and doing all of these things."

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