Florida football has a few prominent players that are either currently coming off of a season ending injury, or have done so in past seasons. Oft forgotten among them is junior Solomon Patton.
The 5-9, 169-pounder is listed at receiver but has only caught one pass to go along with just eight receptions in his career. The Mobile, Al. native made his name in Florida’s rushing attack, as well as on special teams. The former of those two was the facet of the offense he was participating in when he broke his arm against the Georgia Bulldogs last October.
Patton didn’t realize it at first while being attended to on the field by the training staff, but after being whisked into the locker room and in the days immediately after, the reality set in. His 2012 season was over.
“Just long and hurtful and painful, I just had to suck it up and try to get myself back able to play,” Patton said. “Real devastating, I had finally gotten my chance and you know, and it was just like boom, it happened. I never thought I would break anything.”
At the time of his injury, Patton was Florida’s third leading rusher, a level of production he earned by being a staple on UF’s end-around plays. For all the north-south between the tackles running the Gators did last season, one of their leading rushers was getting it done by going east-west. Combined with his role as a kick returner, it’s easy to label him as just a specialist. Don’t tell him that though.
“No, I came here to be a receiver and I always felt like I was a wide receiver. But it’s all about showing the coaches that I was ready and I ended up showing them that last year,” Patton said.
He feels like he’s ready to make the jump as a featured wideout in the vertical passing game. He’s listed as the starter at the Z position on the depth chart, so we’ll see just how ready he is Saturday when Florida kicks it off against the Toledo Rockets.
Even with a mended arm and the projected expansion of his role in Florida’s offense, Patton still keeps a chip on his shoulder.
“I wouldn’t say I have a point to prove, but at the same time, I feel like my time has come. I’m going to do everything I can to show the whole world and especially back home, that this is the right spot. I picked the right spot to come play football.”