Thursday, September 13, 2012
WR Solomon Patton hopes role will expand
By Michael DiRocco
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s Solomon Patton might be the Gators’ smallest scholarship receiver, but he’s being given some chances to make big plays.
The 5-foot-9, 169-pound Patton has carried the ball four times -- all on jet sweeps -- this season for 37 yards, including a 12-yard gain on UF’s final drive of their 20-17 victory over Texas A&M. Patton’s run on second-and-7 gave the Gators a first down and helped kill the final 3:13 off the clock.
"It just felt amazing," Patton said. "I just feel real great about being able to get the ball in that position and stay in bounds and make that play."
It shows the coaching staff has growing confidence in Patton. He has already touched the ball on offense more times this season than he did in 2011, and the junior receiver is already more than halfway to surpassing his career total, too.
Patton had just three catches for 35 yards last season and four catches for 27 yards as a freshman in 2010. He still doesn’t have a catch in 2012, but he’s not complaining.
"I'm hoping it'll get better," Patton said. "I've been working pretty hard, and the coach is telling me I've got a lot of stuff coming my way, so I'm pretty excited about that."
For now, he’s UF’s jet sweep guy. It’s a play that Percy Harvin had great success with during his career. Patton lines up on one side of the formation and goes in motion. The ball is snapped, faked to the running back, and then given to Patton as he races across the formation.
"They just try to get me the ball as fast as they can, put me on the edge," Patton said. "We practice that play at practice every day. It's all about the timing. (The coaches are) just trying to get me the ball as fast as they can so I can try to make a person miss."
It has worked pretty well so far and made him a significant contributor on offense. He has already established himself as one of the Gators’ better special teams players. He has three blocked kicks in his career and has averaged 25.7 yards on 17 kickoff returns and likely would have that job were it not for the presence of Andre Debose.
"I also would love to catch a ball and make some plays," Patton said. "I feel like it’s coming."