The bigger the challenge, the better Jeremy Lane seems to play. That’s one of the reasons the Seahawks selected the cornerback from Northwestern State in the NFL Draft.
On one of the first snaps in the Seahawks’ weekend rookie minicamp, Jeremy Lane read the play, broke on the ball and tipped the pass. A few plays later, he got his hand on another pass and almost intercepted it.
Right on cue for the cornerback from Northwestern State in Louisiana, who has worked his way into the NFL by seizing the opportunity at the most opportune times.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Lane was available to the Seahawks in the sixth round of the NFL Draft – and with the 172nd pick overall – because he was only a one-year starter for the school of less than 10,000 students in Natchitoches.
But to understand why the Seahawks, among other teams, were interested it helps to look at how Lane has performed on his largest stages. Like in the Demons’ game against eventual national runner-up LSU last September, when Lane had nine tackles, a sack and an interception in the 49-3 loss.
“I was very motivated,” Lane recalled. “That was my chance to show the world that I could hang with the big boys. I knew that was my chance to take a shot and show everybody what I could do.
“When the time came, I believe I stepped up and did it.”
The next time the clock struck big-time was in the Casino Del Sol All-Star game in January, when Lane was selected the defensive MVP after making eight tackles and breaking up a pass. Then there was his Pro Day workout at NSU in March, when Lane ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and popped a 42-inch vertical leap.
Despite all that, Lane was left to play the waiting game as the draft moved through Day 2 and into Day 3.
“I was comfortable until after the fourth and fifth round,” Lane said. “I hadn’t heard my name, and I got a little worried. But I stayed patient.”
And it paid off, as the Seahawks finally came calling. The first thing that liked about Lane was his speed – surprise, surprise. In addition to playing football at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas, Lane also ran track – where his best in the 200-meter dash was 21.5 seconds and he also was a 23-foot long jumper.
Other schools were interested, but Lane opted for NSU because it allowed him to stay closer to home.
“I had a couple of big offers from West Virginia and Texas A&M, but I turned West Virginia down because I had a little girl about to be born,” he said. “With Texas A&M, they stopped showing interest when they got a new head coach in 2008, which was my senior year.
“Northwestern State came about because the coach who was recruiting me at the time, he was from east Texas and he ended up coming back and scouting me. I took a visit down there, I liked everything they showed me and I committed there.”
Even though it ended up that they weren’t that committed to Lane because of injuries and inconsistency. He was used primarily as a nickel back his first three seasons before becoming a starting corner last year. But that was OK with Lane, too.
“I think I like nickel better because you can make a lot of plays inside,” he said. “And I like to hit people.”
The hits just kept on coming over the weekend, when Lane worked with the No. 1 defense during the minicamp. He has stepped aside in the offseason program this week with starters Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman on the practice field – as well as a group of veteran corners led by former Pro Bowler Marcus Trufant and Roy Lewis, who has played as the nickel back the past two seasons.
“It’s been pretty cool. It’s been a blessing,” Lane said Sunday, after the third and final practice in the minicamp. “It’s an honor to be out here with the Seahawks. I’m very happy they drafted me. It’s been fun. It’s been very fast. Coming from the college level to this, it’s a big difference.”