Coker: "It's Very Difficult"
AUDIO: Coker Addresses the Media
Team to Wear #95 Decals
CANESTIME TV: QB Freeman Discusses Pata
It's Just a Football Game
After last night's practice the entire defensive line all teamed up to dump water on their defensive line coach Clint Hurtt to celebrate Hurtt's 28th birthday. They chased him down before emptying coolers of water on the former Hurricane.
The guys were having fun and so was senior Bryan Pata, who always seemed to have a smile on his face.
Little did they know that in less than two hours they would lose one of team's most popular and well-liked individuals on the team as Pata was shot and killed in the parking lot of his apartment complex.
Anyone who came across Bryan is deeply saddened by his loss including his family, his friends, his teammates, his girlfriend, and myself.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bryan in his first season at Miami as it was my first year covering the team as well.
Pata came in from Miami Central High as a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. That season he played in 11 games and made two starts while posting four sacks.
We would talk about a number of things that year including the pain he endured to be on the football field. His ankle bothered him practically all year, but I still remember him telling me about the painkillers and shots he would have to take.
Regardless of the pain, Pata wanted to be on the field.
With the success in his first year I remember him sitting with him in the lobby of the media relations office before he had an interview on the radio and I was about to interview another player at the time. Big Bryan Pata admitted he was a bit nervous for the interview, but he did just fine. After the interview was completed he asked the interviewer how he did and wanted to make sure it was good.
I remember thinking at that moment the sense of humility he showed, which stayed with him throughout his career at Miami. His mother, Jeanette Pata, should be very proud of the young man she raised.
My relationship with Bryan continued to grow in the next couple of years as we would discuss a number of topics on and off the field. Whenever we would talk about football stuff we would always talk about a lot of the little things such as his decision to go with smaller shoulder pads, the effect of the skin-tight jerseys, or adjusting to different stances.
After his junior year he was disappointed with his individual performance as well as the team's performance. He and I both knew that his junior season kept him from declaring early for the NFL draft, which was something he planned on doing. However, he was happy at the University of Miami.
In the spring this year we talked about the new coaches and his expectations. When we stopped to chat for a bit on campus right before spring practices began, he was really excited about the new coaches and his senior year. In the spring Pata was one of the top performers.
Prior to fall practices Pata moved from defensive end to defensive tackle. Head coach Larry Coker and defensive line coach John Palermo praised Pata for making the move and thought he had a bright future in the NFL. They both said his attitude was fantastic throughout August, which continued during the season.
Pata missed a team meeting by "a minute" in the week leading up to the Louisville game and did not make the start. He was a standup guy and took the responsibility for his actions. Most players would not have said the reason why they didn't start, but not Pata.
He was enjoyable to be around and an easy guy to root for. He was always interested in articles I would write about him or pictures of him that I'd come across. We always had fun talking about a wide range of topics such as what CDs we were listening to, his cars, or laughing about some of his teammates.
After last Thursday's practice before the Virginia Tech game I watched Bryan and Eric Moncur (one of his closest friends on the team) spray each other with water bottles. It wasn't much of a battle as the two took turns spraying the other one in the face with water bottles until they were empty. This went on for quite some time. They looked like two kids just playing around on a warm summer day.
It's going to be hard for everyone to move on from a loss like this, but the memories will help.
Christopher Stock can be reached at email@example.com