Georgia Tech’s newest B-back lived for five years in Mexico. He is in the process of applying for Mexican citizenship. And it’s conceivable Patrick Skov, who is in competition for the starting B-back job after coming to Tech as a graduate transfer from Stanford, might not be at Tech without the experience.
Skov (his last name rhymes with “stove”) moved with his family from the Bay Area to Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1999 after his mother, Terri, received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The climate and the lower cost of medical care were the two primary reasons. But the experience had the supplemental benefit of opening Skov and his siblings to a new way of seeing the world.
“It makes me who I am today and makes my entire family who we are today,” Skov said. “I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Skov portends to blend a different flavor into the 2015 Yellow Jackets, as a potentially dynamic back who appears well-suited for the bruising carries given to the B-backs and also as a West Coast transplant who brings with him a Stanford diploma, an outgoing personality and an open mind for his new home.
Said Skov, “I’m here to soak in as much as possible.”
That, of course, starts with the Tech offense. After having served as a battering ram for three years as a fullback in Stanford’s pro-style scheme, Skov figures to be a principal ball carrier in the Tech offense. B-backs receive roughly 35 percent of the carries in coach Paul Johnson’s spread-option scheme.
After arriving in June, Skov spent the summer watching game video of B-backs Synjyn Days and Zach Laskey by himself and with position coach Bryan Cook and practicing the mesh handoffs with quarterbacks Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly. Since the start of the preseason, he has been slowly acclimating himself to the feel of the offense.
Safety Jamal Golden, who has taken him on in scrimmages, describes a player hard to tackle who keeps his legs moving, always fighting for extra yards.
“I can see those third-and-2’s, third-and-3’s that type of deal, I can see him as a guy that can get the first down for us,” Golden said. “That’s what we need.”
Skov, 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, is used to the pounding after Stanford.
“You’re going from running full speed into a linebacker from 10 yards away and taking him head on every play in a head-on collision to kind of carrying out fakes, whether you have the ball or not, and kind of taking blows from different angles,” he said. “It’s just a little bit different, but, hey, it’s football, and it’s fun.”
Skov actually learned the game in Mexico, when he and his brother (Shayne, who was an All-American linebacker at Stanford and is on the roster of the 49ers) joined a local team after moving there. The field has proved to be an expression of himself. Ken Mills, Skov’s high school coach at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, said that Skov was “one of the hardest-nosed kids I coached” in 30 years on the sidelines.
“More than any other player, he knew the game plan, knew the strengths and weaknesses of the other team, a good film guy,” Mills said. “He was a real football player.”
Beyond football, Skov is eager for the next segment of his journey. He is enrolled in the Tech MBA program. Realizing he would graduate in June, but with one more season of eligibility, Skov said he didn’t want to spend his final season picking up empty credit hours that wouldn’t advance him toward a degree. With little chance of getting accepted to Stanford’s MBA program and its extremely rigorous reputation, he looked elsewhere.
He has picked up on some of the nuances of life in the Southeast. A lot more people go to church than in northern California. He’s been told a couple of times to remove his hat. And, the humidity.
“You wake up and you go outside and it’s like, I’m sweating and I haven’t even moved,” he said.
At 23, Skov has unusual maturity and ambition, a product of his path. His mother, for whom his family moved because of her condition, died in 2013. She and Skov’s father, Peter, made education a priority. And into Atlanta comes their progeny, a B-back with Spanish fluency, plans for venture capitalism and a brutish manner of play.
“I’ve never been to the South, but it’s a new experience, and I think I can learn from it,” he said. “I’m glad I did it.”
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