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It's a family affair at B-CC

QB Pa'tell Troutman credits life at home for his success on the field.

Bethune-Cookman quarterback Pa'tell Troutman could run and pass for 1,000 yards again this season. He could rewrite every rushing, passing and scoring record in school history.

He could lead the 2-0 Wildcats to their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title in 12 years. He could take his team to the Division I-AA playoffs. He could win the Eddie Robinson award as black college football's best player.

He could even, okay, so it's a reach, win the Heisman Trophy.

It still wouldn't matter. As soon as he gets home, he better take out the trash.

Such is life in the Troutman household.

His parents, Darnell and Pat, love their youngest; that is, they love to discipline him.

"Well, he's an extraordinary kid," Darnell Troutman said. "But a kid's a kid. He has choices like anyone else. He has to wash his dishes, feed his dog and make sure the garbage is taken out, and he's required to go to church on Sundays."

Troutman (5 feet 11, 175 pounds) already is one of the most-heralded athletes in B-CC history and one of black college football's top players this season. The senior blends a quarterback's skills with a running back's ability.

"I've heard people say that I remind them of (Virginia Tech quarterback) Michael Vick," he said. "But I can only play myself."

Troutman is the Wildcats' most potent weapon, and coach Alvin Wyatt has hitched the "Wyattbone" offense to his prized quarterback's skills as B-CC pursues a third consecutive winning season.

"He's a talent," Wyatt said. "I think he's in the top 20 or 30 athletes in the country in all phases (of football), Division I, I-AA, or whatever."

Troutman, a high school standout at Daytona Beach Seabreeze, sat out his freshman season but broke out his sophomore year in 1998, rushing for 1,054 yards. He set a school record with 284 yards in a game, receiving ESPN's player of the week honors.

Last season, Troutman complemented his running style by sparking B-CC's passing game. He passed for 1,042 yards and rushed for 1,023.

That explains why he was a preseason Mid-Athletic Conference first team pick and why Street & Smith's Black College Football edition made him its favorite to win black college football's highest honor, the Eddie Robinson Award.

But every day, after school or practice, Troutman is right back where he started: his family's home on Jefferson Street, where he grew up across from B-CC's practice fields in Daytona Beach.

He studies; he does his chores; he plays with his dog, Blazes; he watches TV with his parents; he goes to sleep; he gets up the next morning, heads to class, and does it all over again.

Not that Troutman, at 22 "the baby" of three siblings, minds much. His oldest brother, Ted, 28, still has chores to do when he comes by. Good thing for sister Shronda Lee, 29, that she's married with two kids of her own to look after.

"Yeah, that's pretty much the way it always is," the youngest Troutman said. "When I'm 40 years old, it's going to be like that song says, "Take out the papers and the trash. . . .' "

B-CC is a family tradition for the Troutmans.

Father Darnell, Class of '71, is an electrician. Mother Pat, Class of '72, teaches reading at Palm Terrace Elementary School. Brother Ted, a former baseball standout for the Wildcats, is working toward his degree there.

His parents are thrilled at all their youngest son has accomplished and all he could by the end of his senior season. But as far as they're concerned, they've still got a son to raise.

"We were reared up the same way," his father said. "No late hours, and church is mandatory, and you have to work. Football is not everything. When he's finished playing college football he'll be in the real world, where you have to pay taxes, pay a mortgage, pay a car note.

"It's just a game he's playing now."

To understand why the easy-going Troutman looks so comfortable in the pocket, one must understand his parents.

"They taught me everything about how to handle pressure," he said. "Just living, paying bills, keeping the family together. I learned by watching them."

Even his unique name comes courtesy of his parents.

"She wanted to name him Patrick," his father said. "I said, "No, I don't like that many Patricks.' Well, we looked in the Bible. We couldn't find a name.

"So after he was born I thought my wife's name is Pat, my name is Darnell, so let's split them in half and you get Pa'tell."