Busy, but unforgettable day for Fletcher football coach Ciatrick Fason

Former Senators and UF great inducted into Florida-Georgia football hall of fame

From left to right, Georgia's Jon Stinchcomb and Thomas Davis, and Florida's Ciatrick Fason and Keiwan Ratliff pose with their busts after being inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame on Friday. (Justin Barney, WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a busy day for Ciatrick Fason.

The Fletcher High School football coach and former Florida running back celebrated his birthday and then went on to coach in the Senators’ game against Ponte Vedra. But squeezed in between his busy morning and high stakes night, Fason found time to be celebrated. He, along with former Florida cornerback Keiwan Ratliff and ex-Georgia stars, offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb and linebacker Thomas Davis, were inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame.

The four-person class was inducted in an afternoon ceremony at TIAA Bank Field a day before the rivals meet in Jacksonville.

Fason was the unquestioned headliner.

Beyond his football success on the field at Fletcher and later in Gainesville, Fason’s post-playing career has been spent in town giving back to the community. He’d been an assistant coach in the area for years before landing his first head coaching opportunity at his alma mater. The Senators have responded to Fason, ripping off five straight wins and earning the District 3-7A championship.

Outside of coaching, Fason’s Star Ready Athletes has been his primary focus. That organization is focused on training athletes of all ages and helping get them prepared for competition and college.

“That’s always been the key, come back and give back. A lot of people want to be known for being an athlete, but I wanted to always go down and be known as not only just a great athlete but a great person and a great human that cares about others,” Fason said.

“You know, my hometown fans, no matter they’re Georgia fans or Florida, Florida State fans, they always show me love and that’s what it’s all about, man. Just to be a great, likable person and just always to want to be there for others. And these fans are showing me that I mean a lot to our community.”

Ratliff went 4-0 against Georgia from 2000-03 and was a two-time All-SEC selection and a first-team All-American in 2003. Ratliff was also the SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and went on to become a second-round pick in the NFL draft.

While Davis, the only first-round NFL draft pick among the four, and Ratliff, had the loftiest credentials, Fason was the main attraction on a Hall of Fame afternoon.

The hometown star spoke about his challenges in high school — he became a father to two children before college — and said he was told that was the biggest mistake of his life. Fason said negativity like that even helps him now and remains something that he preaches to kids — don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t accomplish something. The crowd at the luncheon even sang Fason a happy birthday.

“It definitely makes you appreciate being a Fletcher grad, being a hometown grad. Definitely let me know that I made a great decision by going to University of Florida,” Fason said. “So, you know, just these moments here, man they open your eyes and let you know, when you make a decision never to make it and have regrets. And I don’t have any regrets about any decision I made, and today, just the way that I’m being honored for that decision that I made.”

Davis played at Georgia from 2002-04 and reminded the audience that he was the final member of the Bulldogs’ signing class, but the first and highest NFL draft selection of his class.

Stinchcomb was a four-year starter on the offensive line from 1999-2002. His brother, Matt, was inducted in the Class of 2013. Stinchcomb jokingly asked the crowd why his highlights weren’t as long as Davis, Fason and Ratliff’s.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.