October 13, 2010 11:04:00 AM
The football is only one part of the equation.
Divided into 11 parts, it often takes equal parts execution from a team to allow one of its members to reap the rewards from all of that preparation.
When it works -- and when all of the players do their jobs -- the results can produce the best highlight material.
Pat Shed would love to be the one who always is the last player shown on that footage. But the University of Alabama at Birmingham running back has learned there is much more to being a productive football player than scoring touchdowns.
While the former Starkville High and East Mississippi Community College standout is making an impact in his first season at UAB, he is contributing just as much -- if not more -- doing the less glamorous tasks like run and pass blocking and being a decoy.
"It makes me feel good knowing the coaches will keep me out there if I am not running the ball," Shed said. "That means a lot to me. It shows I am not selfish and they depend on me to make a play without the ball."
Shed has made plenty of plays for the Blazers (1-4), who will play host to the University of Texas-El Paso at 3 p.m. Saturday. Next week, UAB will play at 6 p.m. at Mississippi State. He leads the team with 742 all-purpose yards (148.4 yards per game) and is second on the team in rushing (44 carries, 277 yards, 6.3 yards per carry). He also has 17 catches for 145 yards, 10 punt returns for 61 yards, and 12 kick returns for 259 yards.
Shed enrolled at UAB in January 2010 and made an immediate impact after two seasons at EMCC. He participated in spring drills and had seven carries for 49 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 57 yards in the spring game. He also had 16 carries for 135 yards in the squad''s first spring scrimmage.
UAB coach Neil Callaway said Shed has delivered on the potential the coaches saw in him at EMCC.
"I think Pat has matured since been here," Callaway said. "He is a good guy with a great personality. He is pretty much a joy to be around."
Shed was a two-year starter for coach Buddy Stephens at EMCC. He rushed for 1,593 career yards and 21 touchdowns on 294 carries and led the Lions in rushing both seasons. He also had 33 career receptions for 438 yards and three scores. He had career bests with seven catches for 146 yards (one touchdown) and rushed for three scores in EMCC''s 75-71 victory against Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. in the 2009 MACJC state championship game.
A year ago, Shed said it took time for him to adjust from being in a running-based offense at Starkville High to more of a spread set at EMCC. But he said he grew into his multi-dimensional role while at Scooba, and has continued to matured with the Blazers.
"I used to go out and the first thing I wanted to do was to run and then catch the ball," Shed said. "But now it doesn''t matter to me if I have to block, block, and then run. I just want to be able to contribute and to help the team."
Shed said the coaches didn''t need to talk to him about how he was needed to do other things than run and catch. He said he took it upon himself to become a better blocker and to find ways to use his 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame to its maximum effectiveness so he could take on blitzing linemen, backers, or cornerbacks and safeties. He feels he has improved as a blocker and feels it is a badge of honor that the coaches trust to have him out there to protect the quarterback or to be a threat used to confuse defenses.
Callaway said Shed has been a very productive member of the team who has developed good relationships with a lot of people on the team. He said Shed''s versatility makes him someone who the Blazers will look to this season and next year to continue to produce.
"We ask a lot of him," Callaway said. "He is by far our best guy with the ball in his hands of of our running backs. He has been able to grow in other areas, too."
Shed wants to add at least 10 pounds so he will be better equipped to take on bigger rushers. He also hopes to improve his speed so he can be an even more dangerous target or decoy.
Either way, Shed has matured into a player who can do it all.
"You want to be around good people," Callaway said. "Pat is a mature guy who takes care of his business and does the things he is supposed to do not only on the field, but also off the field."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.