Patrick Trahan always envisioned himself a starter in the Southeastern Conference.
After signing with Auburn out of high school, the linebacker had little trouble making an impression, showing a strong nose for the football and a habit for big plays.
In fact, Trahan was able to participate in the Tigers' 17-14 win over Nebraska in the 2007 Cotton Bowl Classic.
"Being here before, I'm really excited," said Trahan. "I know we can handle it and we should be able to walk away with a victory."
But once his War Eagle ride was over, Trahan was right back where he started – on the recruiting market, in search of a new home.
After landing in Oxford, there was obviously an adjustment period after spending a majority of the summer buried in class work.
"Every now and then, somebody would want to throw a football or something," Trahan said. "I mean I tried. I really had to focus on the books, so it wasn't too pretty. Before, I kept running and I think I was in good shape in the spring but I had a little ankle injury and I had to slow down playing basketball and stuff like that and that hurt me a little bit as far as conditioning.
"There was no alternative to me not doing my (class) work. Every day, I sat in the first row and talked to my professors after class and did whatever I had to do. I ended up making really good grades."
Despite the learning curve, the linebacker began to stamp his place. Using special teams as an inroad, Trahan emerged as a reliable contributor for the Rebels.
"I think I've gotten better overall," said Trahan. "I try to get better everyday. Even if I wasn't a starter, I wanted to get better and better, so I could be the best player I could be."
Spending most of the season backing up senior Ashlee Palmer at outside linebacker, the junior now has an opportunity to start against a prolific Texas Tech offense.
Even with the challenge, Trahan is ready to show his true colors.
"I've been in the defense the whole year, so there are no real surprises for me," he said. "Ashlee and I rotated most of the year, so starting isn't that big of a step-up.
"But they're a good team with a great offense. If we stay disciplined and tackle well, we should be ok."
Having faced multiple challenges just to get to this point, Trahan is more than capable of handling the job.
"I'm ready," he said. "I just got to step up and be more vocal as a starter. I have to give direction. I'm one of the only people that have played in a bowl, so I understand what I have to do."
Up to the Challenge
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