Tana Patrick, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound four-star linebacker from North Jackson High School in Stevenson, Ala., just played his final high school game, losing in the second round of the playoffs. North Jackson High School finished with a 10-2 record and Patrick finished with 140 tackles. Offensively, he had 450-all-purpose yards, scoring eight touchdowns.
"Our season just ended," he said, sounding disappointed. "This is really my first week off and now I'm actually gonna start looking at everything."
Patrick, ranked as the No. 5 strongside linebacker in the country by Scout.com, still denies a favorite and says he honestly hasn't narrowed down and hasn't even scheduled any official visits yet.
"I know time is running out," he said. "I've really got to start thinking about this recruiting stuff fast. I'm hoping to take some visits in December and I've gotta figure out where I'm gonna go quick."
Complicating the situation is that Patrick has over 20 scholarship offers, making it difficult to cut the list down. "Every time I think I like a few schools it changes," he said. "I think there are probably like 10 serious schools right now, but even that isn't for sure yet, so I don't want to say."
While he may not have any official visits set, Patrick will be attending the Iron Bowl (No. 1 Alabama versus Auburn) on Nov. 29. "It's a great rivalry," he said. "They are both great defensive teams and Auburn has won six in a row.
"But 'Bama is on a roll right now and are undefeated, so they're the favorite," he said. "I think we'll definitely see some good football."
Patrick has attended several Alabama and Auburn games already this season, with the latest being when the Tide took on Tennessee (at Knoxville) on Oct. 25.
"Alabama really has a great team chemistry," Patrick said. "I love how they fly to the ball and how aggressive they are on defense. Plus, it seems like they are really having fun when they play. That's like my style of football."
Although Patrick says he expected Coach Nick Saban to restore the tradition of Alabama football, he admits he's surprised by how quickly the success came. "I really didn't think they'd be undefeated in his second year," he said. "I'm real surprised by them."
But equally surprising to Patrick are the disappointing seasons of Auburn, No. 18 LSU and Tennessee. "I don't really know why they haven't done better," he said. "I thought they would. All three teams are usually the best in the SEC."
With Tennessee moving on from head coach Phillip Fulmer, Patrick said, "I don't know about their coaches.
"It really depends on who stays and who goes. I'm being recruited by (linebacker) coach John Chavis and he's a good guy, but we haven't had a chance to talk about the coaching situation yet."
Outside of the SEC schools, Patrick is also considering No. 6 USC and Michigan.
"Michigan is playing a lot of young guys this year and I think I could play early there," he said. "I know they haven't done well, but I think that coach Rich Rodriguez will get things going once he's gets some more guys in.
"It would definitely be great playing for a program with such great tradition," Patrick said.
Another tradition-rich school is USC. "I've never been to California," he said. "But I know that they recruit guys from the south and the East Coast a lot. If I visit them, I'll talk to them about how the transition is going to the West Coast and how players have adjusted."
Patrick denies that distance and location will play a role in his decision.
"I really like how fast USC plays," he said. "I think I'd fit in well on their defense. They always seem to have great linebackers and most of their guys now are seniors, so it would be a good opportunity to come in and compete early."
Some of the other programs that Patrick has offers from are Florida State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Clemson, among several others.
Patrick reports a 3.0 core GPA and a 16 ACT, which he plans on retaking.