Patchan tries out new spot

In­jury-plagued DL get­ting reps at tight end

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos Staff writer

CO­RAL GABLES — In his time at Mi­ami, Scott Patchan has dealt with mul­ti­ple in­juries. He’s spent time on the scout team.

Now, the red­shirt sopho­more could be tak­ing the first steps to­ward a po­si­tion change that will, he hopes, give him more of the play­ing time that has been elu­sive for him as a Hur­ri­cane.

Patchan, who was a fourstar de­fen­sive end com­ing out of Braden­ton’s IMG Academy, has played ex­clu­sively on de­fense at Mi­ami. But ahead of the 18th-ranked Hur­ri­canes opener on Satur­day against Bethune-Cook­man, Patchan has been spend­ing some prac­tice time at tight end.

Con­sid­er­ing Mi­ami’s lack of depth at the po­si­tion — and its sur­plus of tal­ent on the de­fen­sive line — the move is one that could ben­e­fit both Patchan and the Hur­ri­canes. That’s why Hur­ri­canes coach Mark Richt said Patchan ap­proached his coaches about po­ten­tially mak­ing the move to of­fense. It’s part of the rea­son why Patchan ap­proached Mi­ami of­fen­sive line­man Kc Mc­Der­mott to dis­cuss the move ini­tially.

That said, the Hur­ri­canes don’t ex­pect Patchan to line up of­fen­sively this week against the Wild­cats.

“I would say there’s a greater chance of him play­ing de­fense than of­fense,” Richt said. “He knows more about our de­fense than he knows about our of­fense right now.

Added de­fen­sive line coach Craig Kuligowski with a smile, “Let’s call him a dual threat.”

Patchan, the son of twotime na­tional cham­pion Hur­ri­cane Matt Patchan, hasn’t seen sig­nif­i­cant play­ing time in more than two years. He tore his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in the first game of his se­nior season in high school in 2014. He suf­fered another knee in­jury dur­ing spring prac­tice last year.

The hope after that was that ex­ten­sive re­hab work would get him on the field at some point dur­ing last season, but that only brought fur­ther frus­tra­tion. Patchan missed the first four games on Mi­ami’s 2016 schedule and after ap­pear­ing briefly in the fifth — against Florida State — he was hurt again.

“I prob­a­bly pushed my­self. I prob­a­bly shouldn’t have been in that game. I was med­i­cally cleared, and I was just so ex­cited I pushed my­self [to play],” Patchan said ear­lier this month. “I don’t think the coaches weren’t go­ing to let me not play in that game be­cause I pushed my­self re­ally hard. But after that, it was a mi­nor set­back. Tweaked it a little bit. None­the­less, I worked hard, did what­ever they asked me to do and it’s been a little long, but I’m fi­nally feel­ing great now and get­ting my roots in the ground.”

Those roots could now mean a new po­si­tion and so far, in­di­ca­tions are that Patchan is ea­ger to give tight end a try, es­pe­cially with David Njoku in the NFL and Mi­ami fac­ing ques­tions at the po­si­tion be­hind starter Chris Hern­don. Re­serve Michael Irvin II has dealt with de­hy­dra­tion issues dur­ing camp and while he was out, only fresh­man Brian Polendey and walk-on Ma­lik Curry saw time be­hind Hern­don.

“He was do­ing good. He was do­ing real good [at de­fen­sive end]. It’s just a lot of guys there,” Kuligowski said. “We had some in­juries and guys leav­ing tight end and he’s an ath­letic, skilled enough guy to help us in a cou­ple dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. He’s a self­less player and asked to move over there.”

Patchan’s 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame would be an as­set at tight end, but whether he can catch passes there re­mains a ques­tion. On Wed­nes­day, that ques­tion elicited a jovial smirk from Mc­Der­mott, but Richt noted Patchan caught a hand­ful of passes and didn’t look too out of place with the of­fense.

“The little swing passes we do and things like that, he did a re­ally nice job,” Richt said. “He wasn’t fight­ing the ball. I would say he’s got good hands. He has to get used to catch­ing the ball as you’re mov­ing. It’s just such a dif­fer­ent sen­sa­tion.”

JIM RASSOL/STAFF FILE PHOTO

Mark Wal­ton, who lost his mother ear­lier this year, says Satur­day’s game will be an emo­tional one for him — his first with­out her.

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