Matt Patchan was a consensus top-50 player and a consensus top-five offensive tackle nationally in the 2008 recruiting class, sharing space in the tackle rankings with Matt Kalil (fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft), Tyron Smith (ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft) and Mike Adams (second-round pick in the 2012 draft).
But while Smith, Adams and Kalil are preparing for the NFL season, Patchan is just hoping to stay healthy enough to start this season for Boston College.
Patchan (6 feet 7, 300 pounds) is a sixth-year senior at Boston College; he arrived at BC over the summer after graduating from Florida, where he spent the first five seasons of his college career. Patchan is expected to start at left tackle for the Eagles when they open the season Saturday against FCS opponent Villanova.
Patchan basically was a walking X-ray in his time at Florida. He played defensive tackle as a true freshman in 2008 (how long ago was that? Tim Tebow was a junior at UF that season), making seven tackles. He moved back to his more natural position of offensive tackle in '09 but played in only four games before he suffered a torn ACL in practice. He missed the 2010 season with a fractured wrist, then was relatively healthy and started seven times in 2011 at right tackle. But he missed last season with a strained pectoral muscle. During his Florida career, he also was shot (in a drive-by shooting at a park in his hometown of Tampa) and involved in two scooter accidents in Gainesville, including getting hit by a car.
He chose to transfer to BC after receiving a sixth season of eligibility because he is close with new Eagles coach Steve Addazio, who was his position coach for a time at Florida.
"He's endured a lot of ups and downs, and it's matured him and he's really resilient," Addazio told the Boston Globe about Patchan early this month. "I think he can give that experience to this group."
Patchan and senior Ian White could give the Eagles one of the better tackle combinations in the ACC, assuming Patchan can stay healthy.
And if Patchan can stay healthy, NFL teams could take notice. In that 2008 recruiting class filled with tackles now starting in the NFL, Patchan was considered as athletic as any of them. He was extremely mobile, had great size and a large wingspan and played with a mean streak.
"I'm good enough to play football at a high level as long as I'm on the field," Patchan told the Globe. "But it's been a blessing to be able to come here and continue chasing my dream of playing in the NFL. It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time."