Over the next 83 days, GatorCountry will preview the players that make up the 2013 Florida Gators football team as we inch closer and closer to the season.
Each day we will count down using the player whose jersey number corresponds with how many days there are left until Florida kicks off against Toledo in the Swamp on August 31.
Today we take a look at senior wide receiver Solomon Patton.
A member of the highly touted recruiting class of 2010, Patton made his impact felt immediately at the University of Florida. As a freshman, Patton appeared in 10 games. He as a special teams standout, blocking a punt while also returning a blocked punt for a touchdown and also returned four kicks for an average of 28 yards per return.
As a sophomore, he appeared in every game with his biggest impact coming again on special teams. He blocked a punt in the first game of the season and it was returned for a touchdown. It was the second straight game that Patton had blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown (he blocked a punt against Ohio State in the Outback Bowl the previous season.)
As a junior, Patton finally found his niche in Florida’s offense before having his season ended with an injury. Patton was used throughout the first eight games on jet sweeps, carrying the ball 14 times for 140 yards. Patton was third on the team in rushing yards before his injury.
Patton’s biggest strengths are his speed, acceleration and quickness. Patton has very good straight-line speed but he can also make defenders miss and accelerate back to his top-end speed quickly.
Patton is a very good route runner and that is something Brent Pease and Joker Phillips will take advantage of this season.
Despite his size, Patton isn’t afraid of going over the middle of the field to catch passes. He has great hands and does a good job of catching the ball with his hands out in front of him. He rarely uses his body to make the catch.
Patton is a dangerous return man and he should continue to make an impact on special teams for the Gators.
Size is Patton’s biggest weakness but there isn’t anything Patton can do about that. He has done a great job of bulking up as much as his frame will support but he is still one of the smallest receivers on the team.
What to Expect
I expect that Patton will reprise his role as the jet sweep guy in Florida’s offense. His size becomes strength here, as he is a difficult person to see behind the offensive line.
I think Patton also becomes more of a factor in the passing game as well. Joker Phillips mentioned at a Gator Club meeting that Florida needs to get players like Patton the ball in space because of how dangerous they are with the ball in their hands. Phillips mentioned running slants and crossing routes as a way to get defenders to “pick or rub” against each other – you can see a lot of this technique by watching Kentucky film while Phillips was calling plays for the Wildcats.
Patton is healthy now and he appears poised to have his best season as a Gator in his final season on campus.