Mention reasons defensive end Scott Patchan might doubt his college selection, and he will counter it with reasons why the University of Miami wasn’t only the right choice, it was the perfect choice.
This four-star recruit and legacy Hurricane, whose father Matt Patchan III won national titles in 1983 and ’87 as a left tackle, graduated high school early so he could participate in UM spring football practice and continue to rehabilitate after reconstructive knee surgery.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in that program who doesn’t believe it can’t be turned around,” Patchan said the night before driving with his family on Jan.7 from their home in Tampa to Coral Gables to begin his new life as a UM student. “Our class will help bring back the ‘U.’”
Patchan, a 6-6, 240-pounder rooming with junior-college transfer tight end Jerome Washington, will sign his National Letter of Intent with the incoming freshmen on Feb.4 — his 18th birthday.
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And what a birthday present it will be for the young man who sees hope in what others swear is hopelessness.
“Obviously, you don’t like to see a losing season, but it’s going to makes guys more hungry,” Patchan said of UM’s 6-7 finish in 2014.
“I couldn’t be more excited to work with them.”
Patchan graduated from Bradenton’s IMG Academy after transferring from Tampa Freedom High for his senior season. Rated the 21st-best defensive end in the Class of 2015 by 247Sports.com, the 18th by Rivals.com and the 33rd by ESPN, Patchan got offers from many major programs, but decided not to visit the one wooing him the most — Alabama — after deciding to “shut it down.”
“It was very hard to beat my dream school,” he said.
Patchan tore the ACL in his right knee last August during the first game of his senior season. By the end of the third quarter he had 13 tackles, two pass deflections, two tackles for loss and 21/2 sacks.
As a junior in 2013, he had 81/2 sacks, 56 tackles and 24 tackles for loss.
“I was rounding the corner on a pass rush and it just popped,” Patchan said. “As you can imagine, it was an eye-opener. It’s one of the reasons you play every down like it’s your last. I’ll begin spring without having contact and then gradually be integrated. I’m sprinting, but I’ll start cutting soon.”
The Patchans brought Scott to Dr. Lee Kaplan, UM’s team physician, for his surgery at UM Hospital, making the medical transition seamless. He also has his older brother Brandon nearby playing NCAA Division II basketball at Nova Southeastern. His uncle, Danny Mariscal, another former Hurricane, lives in Key West and lettered as a UM linebacker in 1985 and ’86.
Oldest Patchan son Matt IV has a story of his own, and one avid Canes fans know well. Matt, 24, now on the practice squad for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was expected to become a Hurricanes offensive lineman, though he never formally committed, when he attended UM’s last game in the Orange Bowl — a 48-0 Miami loss to Virginia in 2007.
Then 17, Matt basically criticized UM’s heart during that game and ultimately chose the Florida Gators, winning a national championship before transferring his final season to Boston College. Miami fans vilified Patchan and left nasty messages on his home phone.
His dad told the Miami Herald back then that as a father he loved his son and supported his decision, but it would “never change the fact that Miami is my team forever.”
Said the father, who was a third-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988 and has been in a wheelchair since 2007 because of neurological issues: “That was 100 percent true then and it is now. All the good things that happened to me are directly or indirectly related to being at Miami.
“Irrespective of the negative things some people are saying about UM, I feel like Scotty is doing it the right way. I know the ultimate statistic is wins and losses — that doesn’t escape anybody. But he made the right choice, and he’s going to be successful.”
The younger Matt, who is planning to attend law school, said he has no hard feelings and is happy Scott chose UM. “I gave him advice from the time he was a little squirt,” Matt said. “I told him just to have his mind set right and understand his role and that everyday you get either better or worse — so work hard and get better. … Scotty has a great opportunity there, and he’s going to love every second.”
Scott Patchan, meanwhile, has been helping to recruit prospective Hurricanes on social media — reflecting his frustration when players de-commit and exclaiming his excitement otherwise.
“Chasing greatness,” he tweeted this month. “Pops has 2 [title rings], so you know I’m after the same thing!”