Updated Wed, Oct 10, 2012 5:05 pm
Updated Wed, Oct 10, 2012 5:05 pm
Ohio freshman running back and kick returner Daz’mond Patterson has been through quite a bit more than your average 18-year-old young man.
Throughout struggles and hardships in his youth, Patterson always had his family to lean on, and lead himself.
The freshman speedster came to Athens all the way from Plant City, Fla. where he and his two younger siblings were raised by their single mother, Kenyetta Shaw. Several foster kids also came and went along the way.
Patterson grew up quicker than most kids due to his role as a father figure in the house. With Shaw working and going to school, Patterson would often have to care for his younger brother and sister, as well as the foster kids in the house. This included preparing dinner when it was necessary, going to sporting events and always being a supportive big brother.
“It really helped me understand people better. It taught me at an early age to look at everybody’s circumstances before you judge. You can’t just judge somebody and say ‘oh, he’s a bad kid’ without knowing what they have been through,” said Patterson.
In high school, Patterson excelled on the gridiron and, most importantly to him, in the classroom. Patterson graduated from Plant City High School with a GPA of 4.87 and was also a member of the National Honor Society. It was Patterson’s mother who was always there to make sure his grades never slipped.
“As I was growing up, my mom always harped on my grades, as I got older I started to realize how important my education was,” said Patterson.
It speaks to Patterson’s maturity level that as such a talented athlete, he was still focused on academics over the athletic field. He understands that life does go on once football is over.
“This is going to end one day, my education will take me a lot further,” he said.
A reason why Shaw was so adamant about Patterson keeping his grades up could be because she too was pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership while he was in primary school.
“Watching her work ethic, and the way she dealt with us, it motivated me a lot,” Patterson said.
Even when asked about his future as a Bobcat, Patterson responded first with his academic goals, followed by his goals as an athlete.
“It’s my goal to get into a top notch law school; I aim to get a 3.5 GPA in that aspect. As for football, one way or another, whether it’s special teams or in the backfield, I want to be to be an All-American. I play this game because I love it, and my dream is to play as long as I can,” Patterson explained.
Patterson’s efforts in high school did not go unnoticed in his community, and even nation wide. During the spring of his senior year, Patterson was selected as one of 12 semi-finalists for the High School Football Rudy Award. It is an award given out annually to a high school senior football player who has inspired those around them with their on the field heroics and their off the field bravery and work ethic. There were over 100 kids across the nation chosen before the semi-finalists were named.
Patterson has his focus in the classroom, but the true freshman is also off to a great start on the football field. He brought home the MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week award just this week after the Bobcats’ 38-31 victory over Buffalo.
“I look at it as a blessing, hopefully that’s the first of many,” said Patterson.
With the ‘Cats down 14-0, it was Patterson who gave Ohio its first points of the game on a 100 yard kickoff return, and with it the boost needed to take control of the game.
“I feel like it was a spark for us, we needed a momentum shift, and that got it,” Patterson said about his score.
Patterson made it very clear that he would be nowhere without the continued support of his family, especially his mother.
“My mom means the world to me, her, and my brother and sister also. I wouldn’t be here without her, she’s my motivation, she’s helped me through everything I’ve been through. It’s always just been me and her looking out for my little siblings,” said Patterson.
The future is very bright for this young Bobcat. Patterson is off to a great start, his mother taught him what it takes to succeed and he is applying that knowledge at Ohio University, on and off the field.