Patchan back to offense
Published: Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 2:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 2:23 p.m.
Matt Patchan revealed two impressive traits to the Florida coaches last fall as a true freshman. He'll play with great passion and effort on every play, and he'll play wherever he's needed.
Last season, the Gators needed help at defensive tackle and Patchan, an All-America offensive tackle from Seffner Armwood, made the move to defense and was a steady contributor despite being plagued by a series of injuries.
Now, it's time for Patchan to go back home — to offense, where he will compete this spring for one of the two starting offensive tackle positions vacated by departing seniors Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins.
"First and foremost, it's where the team needs help, where he has the best opportunity to contribute and help the team," Matt Patchan Sr. said Thursday. "(Moving back to offensive tackle) is a good thing. He has a chance to get over there and be part of probably one of the most exciting offenses in football.
"It depends on how he develops. Potentially, this could be a great situation for him. I know Matt has always dreamed of playing in some capacity on both sides of the ball. But he knows he has to win a starting position first (at offensive tackle).
"Being an offensive tackle in football today is such a valued position. He knows the importance of that. It's real exciting for any player to play one of those key positions."
Matt Patchan Sr. said his son has recovered from the knee surgery he had in the fall and will be ready to compete in spring drills. Now, he needs to concentrate on getting bigger. Patchan played defensive tackle at only about 260 pounds last season, and he has lost some weight since then, during rehab, his father said.
"From what I understand, there has been a full recovery and he now has strength in the knee," Matt Patchan Sr. said. "He's good to go with it.
"(His weight) will be an issue as he develops. Certainly, he wants to get bigger. It's going to be just natural growth and progression as he gets older. He's still only 18. He's going to be able to achieve what he has to do. As time goes by, he'll only get stronger and better.
"With him, he'll probably see the most progress after the spring, from the spring until they report (in August). That's when you'll see his biggest jump in physical progress."
Patchan's weight took a pretty serious hit before he even arrived at UF as an early enrollee last year when he contracted mononucleosis. He lost considerable weight and participated in spring drills at less than 250.
He got back up to about 260 for the start of last season, and now will have to try and get his weight up considerably higher to play offensive tackle in the SEC. In the past, gaining weight has come slowly for Patchan, who makes nutrition a priority.
"Just because he's into nutrition doesn't mean he's not going to get himself where he needs to be," his father said. "He'll get that done."
Coming out of Armwood, Patchan was considered one of the nation's elite offensive tackle prospects. It is the same position where his father excelled in the 1980s at the University of Miami (and the NFL).
Since he's been a UF, Patchan has battled through a series of injuries, including shoulder and knee surgery.
"That he was able to compete with those guys (at defensive tackle) as such a young guy (last season), I was real proud of him," Matt Patchan Sr. said. "He never played where he had full use of both arms. There was an injury here, then one there.
"If he ever gets healthy for a while, who knows what he can do. That's the exciting part."
Matt Patchan Sr. said he doesn't know whether his son will be playing left offensive tackle or right.
"That's going to be the coaches' decision," he said. "Coach (Urban Meyer) will do what's best there."
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