Patton a bright spot in down year at Florida
Published: Friday, November 29, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 11:49 p.m.
When Florida football fans look back on the 2013 season, not much will be remembered fondly.
But there's someone they should.
Senior receiver Solomon Patton.
He came to Gainesville from Mobile, Ala., in 2010, choosing Florida over in-state schools Alabama and Auburn. Had Patton went to either one, he would have a national championship ring.
He plans to watch Saturday's Iron Bowl between the No. 1 and No. 4 teams, where the winner will be in line for another title shot.
That must make Patton regret picking UF.
“Nah,” he said, “I'm definitely glad I chose to come here.”
Patton decided on the Gators because of Urban Meyer. He wanted to play in his spread option attack, feeling it could best utilize his skill set.
But Meyer left after Patton's freshman year, and so did his ideal offense.
The following season, he was out of place in more ways than one. He didn't fit in Charlie Weis' system, and there were times he grew homesick.
“It was a rough transition,” Patton said.
Things got better for him when Brent Pease arrived in 2012. After touching the ball just four times as a sophomore, Patton had 14 carries for 140 yards and a 17-yard reception before breaking his arm against Georgia. Going into his senior campaign, he anticipated a breakout year.
“Just by the offseason when I was working my butt off, I knew that I had a good chance this year to have a big season,” he said.
Fast forward to his final game in The Swamp, and Patton's expectations have come to fruition.
He leads the Gators in receptions (39), receiving yards (554) and touchdowns (six), the most by a Florida receiver since Percy Harvin in 2008.
If Patton has at least 17 yards receiving against FSU and finishes the game with more than Quinton Dunbar, he'll also have the most yards in a season since Harvin.
Not too shabby for someone who had eight career catches prior to 2013.
However, it's been difficult for Patton to enjoy his personal success amid a losing season.
“I didn't expect for the season to go the way it's been going,” he said. “It's been pretty tough ... but with my family supporting me after the games, just keeping me uplifted, I've been dealing with it.”
UF coach Will Muschamp says goodbye to 15 seniors Saturday, and Patton will be one of the players he misses the most.
“Solomon Patton has really developed himself as a specialty guy to taking a step forward and been a huge playmaker for us this year,” Muschamp said. “He's been very productive for us this year and he's played his butt off. He's fought on every Saturday afternoon for the Florida Gators. The guy has given everything he's got.”
NOTE: The Gators will honor these seniors before the game: Cody Adams, Jeremy Brown, Trey Burton, David Campbell, Tim Clark, Dominique Easley, Jon Halapio, Jon Harrison, Damien Jacobs, Darrin Kitchens, Kyle Koehne, Solomon Patton, Brad Phillips, Christian Provancha and Jaylen Watkins. Thirteen of the 15 seniors are on track to graduate by the spring of 2014, with 10 graduating this December.