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Sooners' Patrick taking everything in stride as he gears up for senior season
Life, of course, is a journey.
And while it may not take Allen Patrick to prove it, for anybody who knows the Oklahoma running back's story, he certainly serves as a reminder.
OU is the only Division I program for which he has ever played, but it is the third to which he has committed, and that doesn't count two other colleges Patrick has attended - Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, at which he spent less than a week, and Independence (Kan.) Community College, at which he spent a year and, for eligibility purposes, his freshman season.
Patrick, present day, approaching his senior season in Norman, is also playing his second position for the Sooners, and his third or fourth if special teams are taken into account.
And only through the lens of Patrick's - perhaps not tumultuous - but varied experience, may his present circumstance be fully understood.
He's through with spring drills, forever.
He has one more season at Owen Field.
He has one more trip, barring calamity that might give him two, to the Cotton Bowl.
Barring injury, he has one, and possibly two postseason games remaining.
"I never thought my last year of college football would come so fast" Patrick said.
Maybe because it seemed to take so long for him to get here.
The journey began in Conway, S.C., where Patrick was a high school star.
His talent was never a question. His academics, however, were. Even if he had proven some level of perseverance in the classroom long before reaching Norman.
Held back in the third grade, Patrick made up most of the missed time before reaching high school. It was in the eighth grade he caught up, though not completely, rejoining his former classmates in the second semester. Thus, his freshman year of high school began the following January rather than August.
And still, after seven semesters of high school, he graduated. But not long after that, things got interesting.
He had committed to and planned to attend South Carolina, when word came back he was academically ineligible. Instead of returning to high school, he went to Coffeyville.
He didn't like it and was soon back in high school, where he still had another year of football to play, having missed out on his freshman season. After a stellar year on the field, he planned to enroll at South Carolina State, an NCAA Division I-AA institution in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, as a partial qualifier - until South Carolina State, which had informed Patrick everything was fine, later informed him it wasn't.
Though a high school graduate for more than a year, he had no place to go but junior college, this time to Independence - where he eventually caught OU's eye.
The rest is not exactly history just yet, thought Patrick is already reflecting.
"I've enjoyed my time here at Oklahoma" he said. "I've loved it. There's nothing like it."
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the 2007 Football Preview issue of Sooner Spectator. Read the rest of it by subscribing today! Call toll free 1-888-335-4385)