Nick Patti was sitting outside a tent on the 9th fairway at Bay Hill Club and Lodge when he got the phone call Friday about 4 p.m.
After visiting UCF this week and then talking to Knights coaches again yesterday, the Knights pulled the trigger and offered the Dr. Phillips quarterback a scholarship for football. He has one other scholarship offer from Louisiana Lafayette.
“It’s big time to me,” Patti said. “It’s an honor to be offered by the hometown school. It’s just great for me."
What sounded even better to Patti was that UCF plans to take just one quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class.
“They told me they were taking only one quarterback and I was first one they offered,” Patti said of head coach George O’Leary and other assistants. “He said watching my film and their offense … it’s like watching the same thing. He said I wouldn’t be afraid to come in and compete, which is exactly right.”
The initial reason for going out to meet the UCF coaches was for them to get a gauge on how tall Patti actually is. For the record, he's 5-foot-11, but some reports have said he was 5-10 and even shorter.
“I went out there yesterday for practice and they just kinda wanted to see me, see how tall I was and watch a little film with them,” Patti said.
O’Leary told Patti he just wanted to see for himself how tall he was, which is actually what a lot of college coaches want to do. No one trusts the recruiting sites or word of mouth.
“He just told me he wanted to make sure I wasn’t 5-7 or something like that,” Patti said. “He saw that I was just as tall as Jeff (current QB Godfrey) if not taller and as long as I got it done, it wouldn’t matter anyway.”
While watching film with the UCF coaches, Patti was shocked to see how similar the Knights offense is to many of the things Dr. Phillips does, like the Panthers’ Pistol.
"We sat in meetings watching their film and mine and some of the pistol was similar, and then almost all of it was similar if not identical,” said Patti, who ranks No. 4 on the Sentinel's 2012 Central Florida Super60. “I had no idea. I was like, ‘I could do this … for sure.’ Having an easy transition is key. The offense is very similar, and not too complex.”
Patti had a dream year as a junior. He guided Dr. Phillips to a 14-0 record and into the Class 6A state final, where the Panthers fell to Miami Central 42-27.
In 15 games he threw for 2,390 yards and 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He completed 62.8 percent of his passes (137-228). As a testament to his accuracy, Patti won the Las Vegas Elite 11 Golden Gun last year, hitting all eight 'hoop' targets, a rare feat.
He does not have a top three list or anything like that. Patti will be at the University of Miami tomorrow, and then has two more recruiting trips slated for Monday and Tuesday at Clemson and Duke next week.
Ed Patti, Nick’s father, is very involved in Nick’s recruiting, which Coach O’Leary said a few weeks ago is one of the things he thinks is of the most importance in picking a college.
“[The parents] can’t say they are not involved,” O’Leary said. “They can’t say, ‘They are leaving it up to the player,’ because it shouldn’t be that way. It can't be that way. This is the biggest decision of their lives.”
And Ed Patti is more than happy to get involved.
“He’s just thrilled right now,” Nick said. “It's all great right now."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times