Solomon Patton...Still Chompin'

It has been a wild week for Solomon Patton. Maybe Team Alabama's best player all week in the Alabama-Mississippi all-star practices, Patton has also had to see his future team lose a game for the first time in 22 tries to his home state team of all things. Patton also got the news that his receiver coach at Florida decided to move on to SEC rival LSU. There has been a lot to think about.

The fact that all of his prowess on the field all week has stirred the attention of the number one team in the nation, Alabama, is something that Florida might be just a little worried about. However, in front of the cameras, for the whole world to see, Florida fans had any questions answered in the game itself.

Patton has wowed onlookers with his ability on the field all week in practice. He got the chance again on a busted play and had to get open on his own for his quarterback to get him the ball. Patton explains the 55-yard touchdown catch best.

"It was a Go route," Patton said. "The quarterback scrambled to the left, no one was open so we all ran to the left, then he scrambled to the right, so we all ran to the right. He saw me open and threw it, I thought it was going to be intercepted but went over his hands. When I landed, a Mississippi guy tried to tackle me, I slung him off a little bit and ran into the end zone and did my Gator Chomp."

The whole thing was music to the eyes and ears of Gator fans. Not only did he show the athletic ability, skill, and speed that had the Gator coaches after him to begin with, he finished the play with a signature celebration letting the world know he was still going to be a Gator.

He didn't stop in the end zone.

"I ran down the sideline doing the Chomp," he said describing his journey back to the bench after the play.

The game ended 21-13 and Team Alabama won. The star all week in practice, Paton actually missed the start of the game. Once there he had a chance to make another big play but was missed by the Alabama starting quarterback.

"I had my SAT's this morning, so I got in late, during the first quarter," Patton said. "When I first got in I was wide open on a wheel route, and the quarterback threw it to the other guy and it was intercepted. Everybody was yelling....It was 3-0 at half time and they were leading, but we took over after halftime."

With his success all week, all of a sudden the local team starting calling Patton. The week after the Crimson Tide defeated Florida to win the SEC and move on to the national championship game, they finally saw the light on Patton's talent and wanted to talk.

"Alabama has been calling me more than before...that is about it," Patton said when asked who might have stepped up their recruitment on him. "They quit calling me before, but they called and told me if anything changes and I changed my mind I have a home in Alabama. In my heart, I want to go to Florida. I don't want to go anywhere else."

Florida head coach Urban Meyer has been worried about his star receiver commitment. With the loss of receiver coach Billy Gonzales this week, Patton has understandably been quoted as being upset.

"I didn't see it coming, from what I read, nobody saw it coming," Patton said. "Coach Meyer has been calling all week. I know he was worried about me going elsewhere. He told me he has my back and asked if I have his back. He asked if he can sleep at night and I told him yes.

As if the chomp in the game wasn't enough and the reassuring phone calls, Patton spent Saturday night with a restaurant full of Alabama fans that were cheering on Alabama running back Mark Ingram for his Heisman Trophy award. Patton was dressed just a little different than the rest of the place.

"I was at a wing place down here and everyone was watching the Heisman Trophy ceremony and I was the only one wearing my Gator hat among all those Bama people," he said. "I told coach Meyer that. He said to make sure I keep that Florida hat on."

Meyer was quick to hire a replacement for Gonzales. With Gonzales out the door sometime on Thursday, Meyer had a replacement ready and waiting by that evening. Zach Azzanni will replace Gonzales and is from the high powered offense at Central Michigan. Azzanni had a 1,000-yard receiver as well as two others over 600 yards this past season. Patton likes what he hears so far.

"I talked to Coach Azzanni twice, and I am supposed to talk to him again tonight (Saturday), Patton said. "He seemed like a real high energy person. From what I hear he is supposed to be a real good wide receiver coach. I am excited and they may try to come (Sunday) if they can get a flight, but they will be coming some time during the week."

"He is trying to get to know me. He asked me stuff about me. He said he already heard a lot about me. He is going to do his best to coach me well and get me to the next level. He said he is excited to be able to be there (at Florida)."

Patton's parents are still very ready for him to move on to Florida, but the shock of losing Gonzales hurt Patton's mom more than most. They expect any anxiety still remaining to be cleared up with an in home visit this week.

"My mom was more disappointed than anyone about Coach Gonzales leaving," Patton said. "Coach Azzanni hasn't talked to her yet, but they are going to come down this week and talk to all of us."

Patton had to take the written portion of the SAT this weekend, something required by the University of Florida to enroll. However, with his current grades, he is fully qualified and has cleared all the hurdles for admission just by taking the test at all. He will be in school next month and ready to participate in spring ball.

"I am enrolling still in January," he said. "They told me I had to take the writing part of the SAT. I graduate this Friday. I am going to get there on January 4."

As if there was any doubt, Patton wanted Gator fans to read this.

"Solomon Patton is 100% Florida Gator," he said. "I am not going to Alabama or anywhere else. Florida is where I want to be and am excited about coming down in January."

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