Patrick used to anonymity

Being a backup to one of college football's all-time best running backs (Adrian Peterson), was no easy task for Baltimore Ravens seventh round pick Allen Patrick. But Patrick, who switched schools and positions, made the most of his opportunity which ultimately landed him a chance to play in the NFL.

"I have a lot of respect for Allen Patrick because of the adversity he fought through and a lot of appreciation for what he meant to our program," said Oklahoma football head coach Bob Stoops after Patrick was selected in the draft. "His toughness and attitude set a tremendous example for others on our team to follow. As both a running back and a special teams player he made contributions, but it was the way that he approached the game that always impressed me the most."

Patrick, from Conway, South Carolina, went to Conway High School and excelled on the football field. He played on all three units, shining as a running back, defensive back and kick returner. In his senior year, he rushed for 681 yards, recorded 105 tackles and averaged 33 yards per return. This resulted in him being tabbed as a first-team All-State selection.

Despite an exceptional high school football career, Patrick was unable to attend a major Division I program and elected to go to Independence Community College in Kansas. There, he made an immediate impact as a safety and was named first-team Jayhawk All-Conference. In Patrick's second year, he broke his fibula and received a medical hardship.

Finally, Patrick was offered an athletic scholarship at Oklahoma University, one of the nation's premier college football programs. Early in his first season at OU, Patrick was switched from safety to running back. However, he was buried on the depth chart behind the prodigious tailback, Peterson. Therefore, Patrick had to catch the coaching staff's attention another way. And that other way was on special teams, something he will have to continue in the NFL.

During Patrick's second season on the Sooners team, he became Peterson's primary backup. However, in the second half of thefootball season, Peterson was injured and Patrick was given the chance to start. Patrick started in five games and played in 12, totaling 761 yards and four touchdowns. Because of Patrick's early success fillingin for Peterson, he was named All-Big 12 honorable mention.

Patrick caught a break in his final season when Peterson opted for the NFL, making him the primary ball carrier. Patrick took advantage of his final opportunity to prove to pro scouts that he could play at the nextlevel. He rushed for 1039 yards and scored eight times and also helped lead the Sooners to the Fiesta Bowl.

In Patrick's final home game against cross-state rival Oklahoma State, he went out with a bang, running for a career-best 202 yards.

"My family came down, and I was trying to put on a show for everybody," Patrick said on the Oklahoma athletic website after the regular season finale. "Just to come out here and play the best game I ever had. It was my last game in here and I knew that, so I just came out here and tried to play the best I could."

Even though Patrick finished his career on a high note, he was still overlooked by many NFL scouts because he was not considered a workhorse back and he had poor timed speed. This did not stop the Ravens from selecting the 6'1" and 200 pound back (in the seventh round of the draft at pick 240) who overcame a lot on the football field.

"The draft is kind of like a chess game and we try to play it as smart as we can," said Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta at the conclusion of the draft. "I can say that all of our players came from our top 120 [on our board], which is exciting. We tried to get big, fast, smart and tough, and I think we accomplished that."

Again, Patrick will have to start out in the shadows of a great running back (pro bowler Willis McGahee) in the NFL, but, because of his past, he is well prepared for the situation and knows what it takes to persevere.

Hank Nathan is a guest columnist for Ravens Insider and a journalism student at Washington & Lee.


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