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Sept. 22, 2009

By Calhoun Hipp
South Carolina Media Relations Student Assistant

Motivation and hard work are not strangers to Patrick DiMarco. Ever since his days of high school, he has sought to make a name for himself and to prove that he is his own DiMarco.

Growing up in a family of athletes, DiMarco has always wanted to emerge from the shadows and establish himself as a great athlete and not just a relative among great athletes. His uncle is Chris DiMarco, who plays on the PGA tour, and has always been associated with Patrick and the DiMarco name. Along with his uncle, DiMarco’s grandfather, Richard DiMarco played basketball at St. John’s University and his cousin, Steve DiMarco, plays in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system.

“With my uncle being a professional golfer, I have always been recognized, even in high school, as Chris DiMarco’s nephew,” said the junior fullback. “That’s when I thought to myself, `I am going to make a name for myself.’ So I worked hard and got my chance, and now I am just continuing to work hard and see how far I can take it.”

His hard work in high school eventually paid off as he was selected the Orlando Sentinel Player of the Year in Central Florida for his playing days at Lake Brantley High School. However, all of his recognition only got him recruited by the smaller Division I schools in Florida, including South Florida, Central Florida and Florida Atlantic. It was not until later in the recruiting process when South Carolina offered DiMarco the chance to play for the Gamecocks, and for the native of Altamonte Springs, Fla., it did not take long for him to decide to sign with South Carolina.

Being an underdog of sorts coming out of high school, and not getting much national attention, really pushed DiMarco to be the best he could and motivated him to work harder and become better.

“I did not expect to play as early as I did here [at South Carolina],” admitted DiMarco. “I expected to red-shirt, get bigger and stronger, and play special teams. I trained pretty hard before I got here, so I was in good shape, strong and ready to play. I just was not sure if I was going to get my shot, but I got my shot and I made the most of it.”

All of his hard work since he has arrived in Columbia has made DiMarco one of the most respected players on the team, by not only the players, but also the coaches. In the 2008 spring practice, DiMarco’s first while at Carolina, he was awarded the Everyday Effort Award for the offense, and earned the Steve Sisk Outstanding Blocker Award in the spring of 2009. These awards for his intense effort and commitment to the team did not go unnoticed by his peers. For the first time since Spurrier has been at South Carolina, the coach allowed the players to select the captains for the year, and DiMarco was only one of two juniors to receive the honor from his teammates.

“It’s definitely an honor [to be selected captain], especially knowing there are some older guys that were real deserving of captain,” acknowledged DiMarco. “It just shows that the rest of the team and the coaching staff respects me and all the other captains.”

While his blood and sweat on the field has earned him respect, it is also his dedication to the academics at the University of South Carolina that has set him apart from other leaders on the team. DiMarco’s effort in the classroom helped the Garnet and Black post one of the highest grade point averages on record last year. He was a member of the 2007-2008 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll and the 2008 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. The business administration major knows that his commitment to his education is just as important to his dedication to his team.

Part of the responsibilities being a captain is being able to lead in the classroom but also off the field as a representative of the Gamecock football team. When DiMarco first came to campus, he did not know what to expect, and he looked up to the older players on the team and followed their lead. He knows that being an upperclassman, that his freshman teammates are going to be doing the same thing, and with him being a leader on the team, there will be a bigger spotlight on him from the Gamecock youth.

“You just have to do things right for the young guys,” said DiMarco. “They come in here and they don’t exactly know the atmosphere and what they are supposed to do. I remember my freshman year was similar. I used to look up to the older guys and say, `Alright, what they are doing right, I am going to do that.’ It kept me out of trouble, and it kept everyone else I hung out with out of trouble. I just feel like leading by example is the best way for the young guys to really grow up and get used to this atmosphere.”

One emphasis that DiMarco is able to pass down to the younger players is the concept of “team.” A team player is the epitome of Patrick DiMarco, as he is known for mostly his blocking. He has only one carry in his career for the Gamecocks and nine receptions with a pair of touchdowns. While his practice effort might get him more carries during the 2009 season, DiMarco is only concerned with helping out the team.

“It would be awesome [to handle the ball more],” explained the six-foot, 243 lb. fullback. “I would love to have the ball in my hand as much as possible, and when the time comes, I’ll take it. Until then, I am just going to keep doing my thing: blocking, trying hard and pushing it to the limit. For me, a good block is just as good as scoring a touchdown. I just do whatever the team needs me to do.”

Just being a part of Steve Spurrier’s offense means a lot to DiMarco, as he grew up following the Florida Gators and Spurrier during their 1996 National Championship run. DiMarco takes great honor in the fact that the Head Ball Coach, who DiMarco believes is one of the greatest offensive minds in the college game ever, respects and trusts him enough as a player to have him go on the field to run his plays. As if the South Carolina fullback did not have enough motivation, playing for the coach that he grew up watching win games has pushed DiMarco even more to be his best. DiMarco has given all his effort to make himself and the team better from the moment he walked into the locker room at Williams-Brice Stadium. He knew that in order to contribute to a Coach Spurrier type of team, he was going to have to put forth a lot of effort.

“I have worked hard since Day One. I came in here and busted my butt. Sweat and everything would just totally drain my body sometimes. But it was well worth it now, knowing that everything I worked for paid off.”

His hard work has not only paid off by making him a great football player for the Gamecocks, but it has also developed him into a great leader and captain. The drive and motivation that DiMarco has had since his high school days in Florida has made him one of the most respected players by his teammates and his coaches to dress in the Garnet and Black for the 2009 football season.