Anytime a player shifts positions, it’s kind of a big deal. There’s big deals on the smaller side of the scale, like when a left tackle moves to guard, or a wide receiver moves to tight end. But then there’s the bigger of the big deals, when players switch not only positions, but sides of the ball. So it goes for our #10 entrant in the 2016 Top Player Countdown, Akron’s Jerome Lane, he of former linebacker but now wide receiver fame.
This year the Zips have staked their claim to the MAC on the back of transfers from P5 schools, and though Lane isn’t that, he did transfer units, position coaches, and function in his time at Akron. Lane turned it on in the MAC portion of the schedule in 2015, having seven games with four or more catches, and four games with a TD, two of those with 2 TDs. He’s a scoring threat and has an eye for the football, doesn’t shy away from contact, and is probably taller than most everyone who will line up against him. That’s great news for Akron, not so awesome for opposing defenses.
MAC Player Countdown #10: Jerome Lane, WR, Akron
Lane is just an all-around athlete. He was a running back in high school, played linebacker and special teams his first year at Akron, and now is a standout WR in a league full of standouts. His athleticism is helped by his sure hands and good height, and compliment that with the ability to get up with a high vertical, and you’ve got something dangerous in play.
The big question this year for Akron is their offensive line, so Lane’s possession capabilities and body-built-for-contact should help the Zips’ passing attack across the middle and in traffic should QB Logan Woodside find himself in pressured situations. Six of the top nine Zips receivers are back this season, so Lane will have help and not need to be a one-man show.
Why a Top 25 MACthlete?
Despite the transition from linebacker to receiver, Lane ended up leading the Zips in receiving yards and receiving TDs last year. So much for a learning curve. That lack of adjustment was evident in his first game at the position, on the road against Oklahoma. The blue chip environment certainly didn’t phase Lane, as he led the team with 3 catches for 57 yards. That’s a hell of a way to start your second positional career.
Lane is a playmaker and capable of busting the passing attack wide open for Akron. In a league where defenses are a little less than stalwart, his 20.1 yards per catch is something that needs to continue for the Zips to take some pressure off the offensive line and force opposing defenses to focus more on coverage rather than pressure.
Star athlete status is in his blood, as his father was a 1st round NBA Draft pick from Pitt. Remember Bill Raftery’s legendary “Send it in Jerome!” call where a streaking Pitt Panther broke a backboard and made college basketball look remarkably easy? Yeah, that was Jerome Lane, Sr.
Video Proof of Awesomeness:
Akron opens their season September 3rd against VMI at 6:30 on ESPN3.