- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Two more players are transferring from Florida.
After freshman defensive back Willie Bailey decided to leave Florida this month, coach Will Muschamp announced Thursday that sophomore safety De'Ante Saunders and redshirt junior offensive tackle Matt Patchan have also decided to transfer.
"Really appreciate their time at Florida. We wish them the best," Muschamp said Thursday. "I think they just needed a fresh start, both guys and both situations. That's all I've got to say about it."
Neither were expected to play against Louisville in next week's Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Saunders, who started seven of the eight games he played in this season, sat out the final two games of the season with what Muschamp said was a knee injury, but was ruled out of the bowl game before the bowl preparation even began. Patchan hadn't seen any playing time all season because of a strained pectoral muscle.
Saunders was actually pretty productive during his time on the field this season. He played at both nickel and safety, and finished the season with 18 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and four pass breakups. He also got some time as the Gators' punt returner, returning five kicks for 39 yards.
He told the Gainesville Sun that his release from UF was "a long time coming." While Muschamp said Saunders missed time this season because of injuries, the 5-foot-8 sophomore had his issues away from the field. He was suspended for a violation of team rules in November, and reportedly missed the first two games of the season because for disciplinary reasons.
According to the Sun's report, Saunders is already considering Louisville as his top choice for his next school. If he does decide to transfer to Louisville, he would reunite with former Gators teammates Robert Clark and Gerald Christian.
It seems like Saunders' transfer really didn't come as much of a surprise. If he thought it was a long time coming, then so did the coaches. It's probably best for both parties to move on at this point. But losing another experienced body at the safety position will hurt the Gators, as Josh Evans will graduate and junior Matt Elam is seriously considering leaving early for the NFL draft.
For Patchan, a change of scenery is probably what he needs after enduring an injury-riddled career at Florida. He probably would have been the odd man out in terms of playing time in 2013 on the Gators' offensive line. There are a lot of healthier bodies in front of him when it comes to the tackle spot.