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November 11, 2013

Patrick plays his role

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He came to Tuscaloosa as a highly-touted athlete, a top 100 player in the nation. Tana Patrick's career hasn't exactly played out like he wanted, but he's on track to graduate and, although it might not be the type of role he hoped for, he holds an important one for the Crimson Tide.

There was no more impressive individual effort Saturday night than Patrick's first quarter play.

LSU was poised to take a quick 7-0 lead on its first possession when Patrick used every ounce of his 6-foot-3, 238-pound frame to halt the Tigers. LSU jumbo fullback, J.C. Copeland, took a handoff and headed left from the Alabama 3 yard line with an escort from left guard Vadal Alexander.

With only Patrick to beat it appeared he had an easy touchdown. But Patrick, who comes in at linebacker on goal line situations, took on the block of Alexander, shed the block and threw his right arm at Copeland to club the ball free. Landon Collins recovered the fumble and Alabama avoided an early deficit.

Patrick has played in all nine games this season and 38 during his career. He's predominantly played during his career on special teams, but this season he's been called upon to help out on goal line plays.

"Tana has been a guy that whatever his role has been here, he's been willing to play," UA head coach Nick Saban said. "He never gets disappointed, never gets frustrated. He's always upbeat and positive. He's played for us all year on the goal line.

"That was certainly a huge play in the game early on when we weren't playing well. It made a huge difference in the outcome of the game, too, I'm sure. We're very excited and happy to see him make the play, but it was great for our team as well."

It's admirable for a player who came out of high school with big hopes to not hang his head when things don't play out that way. Patrick has never been a problem off the field for Saban, instead he gives back to the community.

Patrick was honored with the Derrick Thomas Community Service Award in 2011. He's also been a model teammate, serving selflessly for the betterment of the team.

"It's real valuable that he's not a selfish guy. I mean, doesn't really care what his role on the team is," linebacker Trey DePriest said. "Whatever it may be he just goes out and does it without complaints. I've never heard Tana complain one time - and he's been here for five years now. To do that in this program, I mean, it's rough. And to not complain? I mean that's big ups to him.

"Tana, when he gets in, he does his job. As you could see, I mean, that fumble was key. It stopped them from potentially scoring and just changed, really, the momentum of the game. I mean, Tana is just, he's a hard-nosed guy. Like you said, he don't play much. But when his number's called he goes out there and performs."

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.

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Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or 205.722.0229.

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