Nebraska going after one of the best

With the 2007 recruiting season done, the focus now goes to 2008. Who are the best running backs, quarterbacks and linebackers in the country? All that will be played out, and some will stand above the rest. At offensive line, one perhaps already has. Freedom High's (Tampa, Fl) Matt Patchanalready has more offers now than most can even fathom, and that's after they graduated high school.

Some look back maybe a week, perhaps more, if they are trying to recall when they got their first offer to play Division 1 ball. Offensive tackle Matt Patchan has to think back over a year. It was a verbal offer from Ole Miss, and at the time it was the greatest thing. "You have to be excited about the offer, and I know I was, because the head coach came down to my school on a Friday, a day before his team had to play," Patchan said of Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron. "That was something that he would come out just to see me."

The luster of that offer might still to this day exist, but it's got a little company.

37 more to be exact.

Sitting on an estimated 38 offers, three of which (Clemson, Michigan, West Virginia) came yesterday, you have to wonder what Matt is thinking of each offer he gets now. "It's still great, because it gets me going and motivates me to want to get even more," he said. "I'm approaching this the same way I approach playing, and that is just that you never stop. You never stop. If I can get more offers I want them. I'll take as many as I can get."

The sheer relentlessness you can sense in his voice is something that Patchan doesn't try to simulate, because it's him. It's him getting up. It's him going to school and it's him when he's just heading outside. You don't notice it so much until he hits the field, but when he does, look out.

"Some guys say they don't want to really hurt anyone when they play, but I do," Matt said emphatically. "I don't want to just hurt them. I want to humiliate them. I come off that line, whether it's offense or defense, I want to destroy whoever is across from me. That's just how I am."

The origin of that kind of intensity is different for every single athlete you talk to. For some it's an event, for others it's simply how they are. For Matt, the fact that he's the son of a former offensive tackle, and an NFL offensive tackle at that (Philadelphia Eagles), there are plenty of things driving him. "My dad definitely helped with how I play the game," the younger Patchan said of Matt Sr. "It's just that attitude that you never stop, no matter what."

At 6-7 inches tall and 265 pounds, yeah, Matt is big, but he's not what you would call typical in his frame. Matt is actually quite lean, and says that even at his size he's gotten a ribbing about not being big enough to play the position. Matt Jr. looks at it another way though. "I see lots of linemen out there that are just big, fat and slow. They don't get off the ball very quickly and all that bulk really effects how they move laterally.

Technique and being quick is a big part of my game, so being big and fat like a lot of those guys won't do me any good. I will put on the weight, but I am going to do it the right way."

As the offers have come pouring in and have gone into the world of ridiculous, Matt insists that not one offer he's gotten thus far is any better than others. It's probably expected that he would keep this kind of open mind, because around where he's from, there's a couple of schools which many think are the only two he'll eventually consider.

"My dad played for Miami, so some people think I am going to go there. And down here in Tampa, it's nothing but Gator fans, and because they won and all that, everyone thinks I am going to go there," he said. "You know, Miami didn't have that great of a year and Florida was certainly on their game, but I know that one year changes a lot. You can be on top one year and the next you don't know what happened, but everyone is passing you by."

Once the offers did start pouring in, Matt didn't waste much time getting out and visiting more than a few of these places unofficially. He's already been to Miami, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia, but says he's just getting warmed up. "Over the spring and the summer I plan on going out there and visiting any place that I am really interested in," he said. "That's a lot of schools, because right now I am keeping a completely open mind. This off-season is going to be really busy, because I plan on getting to know as many schools, coaches and everything else that I can."

Stuck in the sunshine state, inundated with almost anything other than football from the Midwest, you'd think that a question pertaining to what he knows about Nebraska, would have an answer which is even shorter than the question. But Patchan, while he has not gone in depth in studying the Huskers, knows a little more than probably most preps in the state of Florida. "That's coach Callahan's school," Matt said of Husker head coach Bill Callahan. "They kind of fell off there for a couple of years, but they are on their way back.

That place has a lot of tradition. I know that. They used to win all the time."

Winning is something obviously very important to Patchan. Like he approaches his craft as an individual, he looks at the bigger picture the same way. But as to that being his main criteria for which school he chooses, he's keeping an open mind there as well. "Like I said, one year later everything can change, and a team nobody thought too much of one year might be kicking everyone's butt the next. I don't look too much at where a team is right now. It's where they are going to be that matters to me and there are a lot of great schools around the country."

You'd have to laugh to call what Matt is going to go through over the next few months an off season. It's more like the season before his final real season begins, at least at the prep level. While he's making all those trips and getting to know all those schools, Patchan said that he'll keep on working on the things he needs to, so his last year of high school will be one everyone can remember.

"No matter how good you are, you can always be better. No matter how much you dominate, you can dominate more. There's no way I am ever going to stop trying to get better, bigger, stronger – everything. I want to be the best, and the best never ever stop."

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