September 10, 2008

Trahan on verge of breakout for Rebels

Patrick Trahan isn't playing as fast or as instinctively as he or Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix would like for him too.

Just don't think that the Rebels' hopes for a dramatic impact from the former Auburn linebacker have faded, because that's certainly not the case. Instead, Trahan's play in Ole Miss' 30-28 loss at No. 20 Wake Forest has only heightened the already sky-high expectations that Trahan will be a star before he leaves Oxford.

"I think every day, I'm taking a step forward," Trahan said. "There's just a lot of hard work and the hard work is going to pay off. I understand what's going on and where I fit in right now and what I'm capable of. I'm not trying to rush anything. I'm just trying to do as much as I can where I feel like I can contribute. I feel like every day I'm getting better and better and I think from just watching my play, you can tell. I think it's all just steps forward and as long as I'm not taking steps back, I think I'll be able to live up to my expectations and what everybody expects of me.

"I'm just getting into the system and getting comfortable. Everything is just starting to click."

Trahan's transition to Ole Miss has been well-chronicled. After leaving Auburn and enrolling at Northwest (Miss.) Community College, Trahan had to work overtime in the classroom this past summer just to get to Ole Miss. When he arrived, he was out of shape and behind.

Since those first few brutal workouts in August, however, Trahan has begun to show signs of the dominant player Ole Miss expects him to be. He's still listed at No. 2 weak-side outside linebacker behind Ashlee Palmer, but Trahan had three tackles at Wake Forest after getting two tackles in less playing time in the home opener against Memphis.

"I wouldn't say I'm in shape right now," Trahan said. "I'm in game shape, but I'm not where I want to be. I've still got a little ways to go. Nothing gets you in shape for football like football, and I feel like the more snaps I get, the better I get and the harder I go, the more in shape I feel. So I'm trying to practice 100 miles per hour, so I can be effective."

That work ethic has been noticed. Nix said Trahan will continue to get more time on the field, starting with Saturday's 6 p.m. game against Samford (2-0) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"He's getting better," Nix said. "He's still adjusting, but he's improving. As long as he continues to improve, we're going to keep giving him more and more reps and more and more opportunities."

That's music to Trahan's ears, but the New Orleans native is more concerned about helping Ole Miss contend in the SEC West. With Peria Jerry and Ted Laurent back on the field and Greg Hardy getting close to a return, Trahan said Ole Miss' defense is ready to emerge.

"I think that we're a good defense and we're coming together as a team," Trahan said. "Every day, we're getting people back who were hurt, and I think that just adds more depth to our defense and we're coming together more and more. I think our defense is only going to get better and better. I think we're real close if we keep up our hard work."

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