Special to College Sports Journal from Raycom Media Camellia Bowl Senior Writer Tim Gayle
MONTGOMERY, AL. — Daz’mond Patterson has a team-leading nine touchdowns for the Ohio University Bobcats, but there is so much more to Patterson’s game than a first glance at his 5-foot-6, 180-pound frame would reveal.
On the field, Patterson has just 497 yards rushing, but is a key component on a blue-collar offense that can be deceptively effective.
“He’s a complete back,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “You look at him in terms of his height and size and you say he’s not going to hold up on pass pro or any form of blocking, will he be able to be a good receiver because he’s a small target. But he’s got great hands, he runs great routes, so he’s an excellent receiver and he’ll stand in there and block you. He’s a tough, tough kid.”
Patterson’s versatility comes in handy for the Bobcats.
“We don’t have to substitute him,” said Solich. “He gets down there by the goal line and we may just let him be the guy because he finds the little creases and he’s so explosive and goes into contact so well. He can be very valuable to you, even on the goal line.”
Patterson, despite nagging injuries that have plagued the senior throughout his career, recalls some advice he got from his uncle, Joslin Shaw, a Florida State receiver from 2003-07.
“When I was in high school, my uncle told me that the more I could do, the more marketable I was and the better chance I had to be on the field,” Patterson said. “I practiced being a complete back since I came out of high school. Blocking is something I take very seriously. I love to block. It’s something I take pride in.”
When Patterson looks at the NFL, he sees players to compare himself with.
“I like to consider myself the scat-back type, the Darren Sproles type, but I can also run the ball between the tackles,” Patterson said. “I’m 180 and I may not be able to run over people as well as (teammates) A.J. (Ouellette) can or Maleek Irons can, but I’m going to make you miss.”
Patterson and the Bobcats (8-4) will face Appalachian State (10-2) in the second Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on Saturday at Cramton Bowl at 5:30 p.m. EST. And while a bowl appearance for the Mid-American Conference team is a huge accomplishment after missing out in 2014, there’s more to life than football, Patterson insisted.
“I love the game, it’s something I’ve been doing since I was four years old,” he said. “But I understand there is life after football. Not only that, but there are lives that matter other than mine. I like to, in the best way I can, be a light to anyone I can for God.”
Patterson’s desire to be a force in the community started at Plant City (Fla.) High, where a 4.87 grade-point average and membership in the National Honor Society, combined with his ability on the football field, gave him a platform to mentor to younger children.
He was one of 12 national semifinalists for the high school Rudy Award, given to those inspiring role models who combine on-the-field exploits with an off-the-field work ethic and community involvement.
He would receive just one offer from a Football Bowl Subdivision program and accepted the scholarship to Ohio, where he was sidelined by a shoulder injury after his freshman year, an abdominal injury another season and a knee injury that sidelined him for the 2015 regular-season finale against Northern Illinois.
But any disappointment in lost playing time was made up with the formation of an organization that helped him run for senator in the Student Government Association.
“Unfortunately, we lost,” Patterson recalled. “But it turned into something. I feel like God spoke to me to start assisting communities through intercultural outreach. I’m wanting to spread love for yourself as you show love for all others. I feel like it’s something that God put in my heart to make a difference not only in my life but in others’ lives.”
His organization, ACTION (Assisting Communities Through Intercultural Outreach and Networks), is a lasting legacy far more important to the Ohio University senior than the statistics he has compiled on the football field.
“It’s something I want to continue for the rest of my life,” Patterson said. “I want to start for-profit and non-profit organizations that show love for your neighbor as you show love for yourself. Just doing different things to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a movement, it’s a network, it’s a lifestyle. I am ACTION.”