SEFFNER - The first time Petey Smith laid eyes on Matt Patchan, the Armwood High junior linebacker didn't just see a football player.
'At first, I thought he was some kind of a beast because of how big he was,' Smith said with a laugh, glancing at the 6-foot-8, 265-pound two-way lineman.
That didn't mean Patchan, a five-star prospect by both national recruiting services, was going to get the five-star treatment from Smith or any other Armwood players before he showed them something.
Armwood's football team doesn't take well to outsiders, a point Coach Sean Callahan says he can't hammer home hard enough. The Hawks are a very tight-knit group, and no one gets accepted into the group without first putting in the work - regardless of the hype that person comes in with.
The good thing was Patchan, who transferred from Freedom, wasn't looking for preferential treatment. Before he was going to display his free-spirit attitude, Patchan was ready to win over his teammates by displaying his work ethic.
'You come here, you take it how they want to give it,' Patchan said. 'I came over here, and I tried to show everybody that I was a real hard worker and that I wanted to be a leader of the team. ... And I think they really took to that.'
They certainly did.
'A lot of people, when they first come, how hard we work, they always complain. He never complained,' Smith said of Patchan. 'He worked hard and did all the drills right, worked 100 percent and he never quit. He did what everybody expected him to do.'
Now, everyone is expecting Patchan to dominate and to live up to the billing analysts from around the country have bestowed upon him. According to Armwood's players and coaches, that shouldn't be a problem.
As painful as it may be for some of the Hawks' faithful to hear - and for Armwood coaches to say - Patchan is arguably the best offensive lineman to put on an Armwood uniform, an honor previously bestowed on Mike Pearson, a Parade All-American as a senior at Armwood.
'He's the most explosive kid we've ever had, bar none,' Callahan said of Patchan.
'His motor never turns off. He's going 100 miles per hour until the whistle blows, and sometimes even after,' Smith said. 'He likes to drive people down the field. He gets a really big kick out of that.'
And his teammates get a big kick out of seeing it.
'The other day, we were in the highlight room looking at his film, and I just felt blessed that he came over here to block for me,' Armwood first-year quarterback Mywan Jackson said of his left tackle.
And the blessed feeling is mutual. Patchan said joining the Hawks was the best thing that could have happened to him, if for nothing more than because day in and day out, he's competing in practice against players he believes are some of the best in the country.
Now, Patchan is just hoping to leave his stamp on the Armwood program, which he believes can be achieved in the one season he has with the Hawks.
'That's definitely enough time,' Patchan said. 'Whenever I leave Armwood, Coach Callahan, offensive coordinator Chris Taylor, defensive coordinator Matt Thompson, they'll remember me if I continue working like I do.'