COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur) - South Carolina senior offensive guard Ronald Patrick's freshman season didn't go the way offensive line coach Shawn Elliott wishes it had. The 6-foot-2, 315-pounder from Cocoa, Fla. took major steps this offseason to insure his final season at USC goes better than his first.
Ronald Patrick is off to a solid start to his senior campaign.
Wes Mitchell Football Analyst/ Recruiting Reporter, TheBigSpur twitter.com/WesMitchell247
In a perfect world, Patrick would be a redshirt junior right now with this rest of this season and an entire other season of eligibility left. But due to an injury to the player in front of him, Patrick was inserted into a game late in his true freshman season, which cost him a year of eligibility.
"From the time he was a freshman and we had to throw him in there at the very beginning and really wasted his redshirt year for him to come back and do what he has done [is impressive]," Elliott said.
As a junior last season, Patrick started every game at right guard, but the results were up-and-down. Knowing he had just one season left to prove he could be a productive starter in the SEC, Patrick had his most successful offseason since arriving in Columbia, and it's shown in his play through two games.
"He played well at times last year but the commitment he put in the summer, he was really one of a kind," Elliott said. "He was probably the hardest working guy we had in there. You could tell he really wanted it bad and wanted his senior year to be his best. Thus far, he's played pretty well."
While Patrick is one of four starters returning on the Gamecocks' offensive line, he's also one of just four recruited seniors on the entire team, along with Connor Shaw, Chaz Sutton and Jimmy Legree.
Patrick believes it's up to him to be more of a senior leader this season.
"I definitely feel that I have to be [the leader]," he said. "Being a senior, they look for me. Without a doubt, I feel like I have to be that guy. On the other hand, I have experienced guys around me, but yes, I look to be that guy."
"A.J. (Cann), Corey (Robinson) and those guys came in together," Elliott said. "They're all kind of one in the same. Yeah, I'd say he has a leadership quality of our group."
It's easy to be a leader when things are going well, but leaders are truly needed when teams face adversity. Coming off South Carolina's 41-30 loss to Georgia, Patrick believes it's important that the offense doesn't point finger at the defense after a loss in which the offense probably played well enough to win.
"We all know we are in this together," Patrick said. "If anything, when one side is doing better than the other, we pick each other up on the field. We don't stay on the field just talking defense or offense. We are all in this together."