"My senior season got crashed down," Pata says. "My eligibility for playing high school football was over."
Because of some problems earlier in his high school career, namely messing around in the 9th grade instead of taking care of business, Pata was forced to repeat the grade. When that happened it meant that his senior season would be spent lifting weights on his own while his supposed teammates played games on the field. While it was a painful time for him, he worked hard physically and academically. His work paid off as schools remained in contact with him throughout his senior season.
"I'm hearing from Rutgers, Florida, Miami, Auburn and Oklahoma," Pata tells Inside The Auburn Tigers, "that's about it. I don't have any favorites but I have already scheduled all five visits. I go to Rutgers on Dec. 13, Florida on Jan. 10, Jan. 17 I go to Miami, the 24th I go to Auburn and that's it."
In his third season as a starter last year as a junior, he had 56 tackles and 11 sacks from his defensive tackle position. On offense he was used as a tight end, power back and fullback in short yardage situations and had two touchdown catches.
Rated as the number five defensive tackle prospect in the country according to TheInsiders.com Network, Pata was a standout at summer camps at both Auburn and Miami along with the Nike Combine in Miami. At 260 pounds he ran a 4.86 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of over 28 inches at the latter.
A frequent visitor to the Miami campus and in the Orange Bowl for every home game, even after taking the SAT the morning of the Virginia Tech game, Pata is unquestionably a lean to the hometown Hurricanes at the moment despite the depth of the Hurricane defensive front.
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Although his entire senior season was put on hold because of academic problems, Pata will have a chance to show his stuff on the football field one more time before his high school career is over. He is scheduled to play in the California-Florida Bowl on Jan. 4.