When he was signed out of Northwest Community College, it was anticipated Outside Linebacker Patrick Trahan could step in as an instant starter on the 2008 Rebel defense.
It didn't work out that way due to Trahan having to concentrate so much on his academics last summer to get eligible that he reported to football camp in August out of shape.
"My conditioning was very bad due to the circumstances I was under," said Patrick, a player who speaks softly but carries a big stick. "It took me half the season to get in shape and to learn the system.
"I probably could have learned the system quicker if I had been in shape, but early on I was just trying to get through practices and my concentration level, due to my conditioning, was not up to par."
Once Trahan overcame those early obstacles, he started to stand out, even earning some starts at the tail end of the season while sharing a position with then senior Ashlee Palmer.
He showed flashes of what to expect in 2009, including tackling Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell for a safety in the Rebs' Cotton Bowl victory. On that play, he looked as if he was shot out of a gun in his pursuit of the Red Raider gunslinger.
"We expect a lot from Patrick now," said Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach Tyrone Nix. "He knows the ropes and he's in good shape. We expect him to have a big year and I think he expects that of himself as well."
For now, Trahan is working diligently to prepare for spring practice, which begins March 26th.
"I'm a senior now. This is the last time around so I want to be prepared the best I can be," Patrick stated. "This spring, Coach Nix wants us to perfect our fundamentals and then go from there.
"I felt things started coming together for me the second half of the season. I was struggling with my conditioning early on, but as I got in shape things started clicking. This year everything is going to be good because I know the defense like the back of my hand and I am in the best shape I have ever been in."
Patrick has also, like every Rebel during the offseason, been working on his body. In his case, he wanted to put on a little weight.
"I'm at 240 now and that's where I want to be next season. I played last year at 230-232. I can tell the difference in my strength levels," he noted. "I've been like a gym rat in the weight room doing everything I can to get all my strength levels up."
Being a senior, Trahan realizes the importance of him helping in a leadership role, but he's not going to be the rah-rah guy on the team.
"I don't say a whole lot. I try to lead by my actions," he noted. "I just want to set an example and gain respect from my play. I won't be on of the forceful leaders, I'll be more of a helpful leader. There are lots of ways to lead."
Trahan says the Rebel expectations for 2009 are extremely high.
"We are trying to go all the way," he said. "Last year, I think we had the talent to go all the way, but it took us some time to buy in completely with a new situation and a new staff. Now we are in totally. We know what we've got to do and everyone believes. We will take 'one heartbeat' into the season."
Patrick believes the Rebels will be up to the task on the defensive side of the ball, despite some key losses of Peria Jerry, Jamarca Sanford and Palmer.
"It's no reflection on Peria or the other guys because they were great players and leaders for us, but I think we are going to be a better defense because we are more experienced at every spot and we are deep at every spot," he closed. "We are going to continue to grow and we are going to be ready for the challenge."
A lot of people believe Rebel fans still have not seen "the real" Patrick Trahan.
Patrick feels that way too.
Hold on to your hats. He's on his way.
Patrick Trahan -
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