SEC: Get Ready to Meet Patrick Trahan of Ole Miss

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IAugust 1, 2008

Patrick Trahan, in the spring of 2007, was just your typical student-athlete.

He was an Auburn linebacker that showed, according to head coach Tommy Tuberville, more progress in an athlete during the spring than any other player he's ever seen.

Who would've ever thought the promising linebacker would soon be academically ineligible for his redshirt sophomore season?

Trahan, like many student athletes, is labeled as learning disabled. Trahan's case is dysgraphia, which makes it hard to put thoughts on paper. On some colleges, it was found that as many as one-third of their players with LD, or learning disabled athletes.

Trahan is not a "typical football player" you will assume in this situation.  Trahan once scored a 130 on his IQ test.  Trahan possesses great intelligence.

Some people take advantage of the term LD, but not in Trahan's case.

"I try not to judge," Trahan says, "but I'm sure some use it as a crutch. I can't let it affect me, but I do believe everybody's gotta answer to a higher power someday", he says.

In the course of his spring semesters at Auburn, Trahan did well in classes that didn't emphasize writing, but failed those which did.

However, in the fourth semester (last May), Trahan was placed on academic probation after having a B in political science, a C in organizational theory and F's in computer applications, speech, and English composition. Whenever his mother Patricia Baranco would ask how he is doing academically, being one not to upset his mother, Trahan would say okay.

Trahan explains the academic support staff at Auburn didn't do their job.

"It is so humiliating, because they don't know what you're dealing with," Trahan says. "It was like I got a spellchecker, not a personal tutor. They'd go, 'This is wrong. This is wrong.' But they wouldn't tell you why it's wrong."

Word, however, reached his mother that he was academically ineligible. Baranco didn't understand.

"I was just trying to find out what was going on," she says. "I thought they were supposed to keep up with his grades. If something was physically wrong with Patrick, they would've been all over it."

Baranco questioned the explanation she was given. The academic support staff reported that Trahan was not doing his work and not asking for help, contrary to what Trahan said.

So she and her son, Kenny, made the six-hour drive from their home to Auburn to join Patrick with not just Tuberville and the five assistants, but as well as the head of Student Athlete Support Services, Virgil Starks, and his staff.

Baranco and her son were encouraged not to lose their cool and hear Auburn's side of the story. That was fine, until the first thing they heard was from an Auburn official who pointed to Trahan and said, "It's his fault. We asked how you were doing, and you said fine. You lied!"

That's when Trahan rethought everything. He knew he could've probably tried a lot harder, but how could Auburn and their officials place all the blame on him?

Baranco lost it, and made his son leave Auburn and head to junior college for his next year and enroll at a senior college as a junior.

No matter what story you believe, it's a hard situation to digest. Both were probably right, Trahan probably didn't get help as much as needed, but he probably needed more care than a basic tutor and probably wasn't received proper help. 

Trahan enrolled at Northwest Mississippi Community College for the next fall and he succeeded well on the football field. Named the #1 JUCO recruit in the nation, Trahan picked this February to sign with Ole Miss over West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas.

Even Auburn tried to come after Trahan again, saying that had made changes in their academic staff.

Trahan was recently declared eligible by the NCAA and has been cleared to compete for Ole Miss and report to spring practice on Monday. With a linebacking core that needs some depth, expect Trahan to come in and produce immediately.

At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds and 4.4 speed in the 40, he compares to great Ole Miss linebackers such as Patrick Willis and Rory Johnson.

To Trahan's credit, it's great to see someone come back from adversity into a great situation.  Trahan not only possesses great football skills, but also great character and should be admired for his "never-giving-up" attitude. 

SEC, be on the lookout. Trahan's ready and eager to finally get back in the SEC. Be ready to see him running through offensive lines and making big plays for the Rebels this fall.

Thanks goes out to Bruce Feldman from for information on Patrick Trahan and Greg Miller for the photograph.

Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for