Since the first day of August practice until just recently, Ole Miss Outside Linebacker Patrick Trahan has felt like he has had three sets of shoulder pads on - literally.
"I was very out of shape when I reported here," Patrick laments. "I worked so hard on my academics this summer that I didn't get to work out as much as I needed to.
"I couldn't even finish practices in early August it was so bad."
Patrick says some of that was fault of the situation he was in having to put in extra hours to gain his academic eligibility and some of it was his fault.
"I didn't feel myself being that out of shape, but it's a different level of conditioning on this level of football," he said. "I think I took for granted that I could get in good shape quickly, but now I see the benefit of spring, offseason and summer workouts. The guys who had been here all summer were able to run all day and I couldn't finish a practice with anything left in the tank."
Lesson learned the hard way, but not too late.
"I still have work to do, but I'm starting to feel like myself again," Trahan emphasized. "And what goes hand-in-hand with being in better physical shape is that you can concentrate better on the mental parts of the game.
"It's hard to learn when you are fatigued."
Now that he's in better condition, Patrick is starting to play faster, physically and mentally.
"It's a progression, but I'm reacting more than thinking now," he stated. "Pretty soon, I'll be at a point where I can just react all the time and when that comes I feel I will make a lot of plays for my team."
Trahan credits Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix for his development to this point.
"Coach Nix has been patient with me and is teaching me everything I need to know, but he knows I'm not a finished product yet," Trahan added.
Patrick, basically, split time with senior Ashlee Palmer in the Wake Forest game, playing "just about" every other defensive series.
Asked if Trahan was starting to peak yet, Nix didn't hesitate.
"No, no, no - not yet," Nix smiled, "but he's making progress on a daily basis. I don't think it will be much longer before he puts himself in position to earn a start."
Trahan looks forward to that day, but he knows he's not ready for it yet.
"I had a tough choice to make last summer. Get eligible and not be in shape when I reported or get in shape and risk not being eligible," he closed. "I chose to make sure I got eligible. That was the right choice to make, but if I had to do it all over again I would have made time, some way, to work out more than I did.
"Like I said, I took for granted I could get in shape quickly and that hasn't been the case, but that's almost behind me now."
Trahan is starting to make his presence known on the Rebel defense. Look for his shadow to loom larger and larger each week.
Patrick Trahan -
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