Florida Gators redshirt junior offensive tackle Matt Patchan has decided to transfer and sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders has been released from his scholarship, according to reports Wednesday from The Gainesville Sun.
Sun columnist Pat Dooley learned of Patchan’s departure, a decision that ends his injury-plagued career with the Gators. Saunders told the paper that he received his release “a couple of days ago” and that it was “a long time coming.”
Patchan, a fifth-year junior, missed two full seasons (2010, 2012) and had three others cut short due to injury. He played in 27 total games including 11 as a true freshman defensive tackle (leg), four as a sophomore (knee) and seven as a redshirt sophomore (back). He tore his pectoral in the offseason and did not step on the field this year.
The Sun reports that he plans to transfer to either Ohio State or Boston College. Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer holds that position with the Buckeyes, and former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio was named new head coach of the Golden Eagles this month. Patchan will be able to enroll in a graduate program and play immediately.
He might have stayed had the Gators been thinner on the offensive line. Florida has multiple players competing for both tackle positions including young top-tier talent and multiple veteran transfers.
Though he has always been successful for the Gators on the field, Saunders had numerous off-the-field issues that limited his playing time and ability to contribute to the team and ultimately led to his dismissal.
He was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May, agreeing to deferred prosecution for the charge. He was disciplined internally and promised the coaching staff that he would quit so it would no longer be an issue.
Saunders missed the first two games of the 2012 season with what was described by head coach Will Muschamp as a hamstring injury and also sat for the final two games of the campaign with what Muschamp said was an injured knee.
He was also suspended for the Alabama game on Oct. 1, 2011 and missed the Auburn game two weeks later for an undisclosed reason.
Muschamp announced weeks ago that Saunders would not play in the bowl game, claiming the decision was injury-related. He will hold his first press conference in New Orleans, LA on Thursday and will likely address this issue at that time.
Saunders has registered three interceptions (returning one for a touchdown), a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 20 games over two years. He has made 16 total starts for Florida including nine as a true freshman and seven this season.
Louisville has long been considered a potential destination for the safety.