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Thursday December 27, 2012 Muschamp announces that two Gators are leaving the program

Will Muschamp

Gators coach Will Muschamp at Thursday's Sugar Bowl press conference.

NEW ORLEANS -- Shortly after arriving here Thursday afternoon to open preparation for the Sugar Bowl, Gators coach Will Muschamp announced that redshirt junior offensive lineman Matt Patchan and sophomore defensive back De'Ante "Pop" Saunders are leaving the program.

"I just think they needed a fresh start,'' Muschamp said.

While Patchan did not play this season, Saunders started seven of the eight games he played and appeared in 12 games as a true freshman in 2011, starting nine.

Saunders was a member of Muschamp's first UF recruiting class and made 44 tackles and had three interceptions in 20 career games, primarily as a nickel back in the secondary. Saunders told the Gainesville Sun that he is considering a transfer to Louisville, Florida's opponent in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl.

Meanwhile, the often-injured Patchan's career at Florida ends quietly. Patchan earned his undergraduate degree earlier this month and is expected to rejoin former Gators offensive line coach Steve Addazio, who recently was named head coach at Boston College.

Patchan did not play this season due to a strained pectoral muscle. He played in 27 games over his UF career, starting eight.

Patchan missed two entire seasons during his UF career -- 2010 and 2012 -- and played in only four games in 2009. If granted a sixth year of eligibility, Patchan can play one more season wherever he transfers.

Patchan played in 11 games as a defensive tackle in 2008 and then started seven games at right tackle last season.

Check later for more coverage of the Gators' arrival in New Orleans.

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