Varsity Preps

Jaylon Lane Embraces Second Chance

Photo courtesy of Scout.com

Life can change in the blink of an eye. This is something that Jaylon Lane knows all too well.

The Nacogdoches High (TX) product was one of the most-recruited players in the 2015 class with an offer sheet longer than summer lines at Six Flags. He was a participant in Nike’s The Opening, a host of other elite camps, and ranked one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. After carefully considering over 40 schools, Lane committed to Oklahoma State the summer before his senior year.

But things came to a screeching halt not very long after Lane’s senior season ended. His involvement in an off-the-field incident at school abruptly put a period on his football career. Despite losing all of his offers and seeing his awards and accolades seemingly turn into vapor, Lane used the experience to mature and press forward. He turned a period into a semicolon and earned what he sought after the most—a second chance.

After playing a year at Jones County Community College (MS), Lane caught the attention of Division 1 coaches once again. He tallied 42 tackles and an interception in just six games before being sidelined with an injury. Lane will finish up his JUCO career at Independence CC (KS) before finding a new home for his final two years.

“I feel great; it’s truly a blessing and means a lot to me,” Lane said on his second shot at D1 football. “This made me realize that God wanted me to take a different path and keep working.

“Everything was taken from me, and I thought football was over. A lot of people talked down on me and never motivated me except for a few people around town and my family. But everything happens for a reason; this whole thing just made me stronger.”

UCLA is the latest to offer the 6-1,185-pound standout who is currently committed to Texas-San Antonio, the first school to offer him this time around. Although he’s given a verbal nod to the Roadrunners, he’s still open to visiting other schools. Middle Tennessee, Bowling Green, Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech have also extended Lane a roster spot.

“I have to see what’s best for me in the long run,” Lane said. “Recruiting is like a pair of shoes: you may have one pair that fits great, but you have two or three other pair that may fit, as well. You just have to go out and really see what’s best for you. My goal is to get to the league, so I have to find the right fit for me for those two years.

“After UTSA offered me, I was shocked when I started getting offers from other schools. Many of the schools that offered me before never gave me a chance or wanted to get the full details of what happened with my off-the-field incident. So the schools that are looking at me now have been checking up on me, seeing that my grades have been good and that I’ve been performing on and off the field. I’m thankful that they believe in me and are giving me a chance. I’ve matured and learned from my mistakes.”

The road to redemption wasn’t an easy one by any means for Lane, who recalled almost giving up on football altogether after many of his biggest advocates became critical naysayers. The support of his family and a few close friends helped him push through that whirlwind of negativity and stay on path to reach his goals, which led to him showcasing his skills in the JUCO ranks. He is currently the 38th best JUCO prospect in the country, as well as the No. 3 JUCO cornerback, according to 24/7 Sports.

“There’s a lot of guys in junior college that are D1 material but maybe had off-the-field or academic issues that prevented them from going D1 right away,” Lane said. “I never thought I’d take this route. It’s a struggle and a sacrifice, but I’m thankful for it because it’s really preparing me for the next level. I’m taking full advantage of every opportunity.”

Lane was already a top-tier player coming out of high school but looks to be even more polished after getting two years of JUCO ball under his belt. Whichever school lands him will get a steal and unquestionably one of the best players in the 2017 class.

Perseverance is the single word that sums up Lane’s journey. He could have easily quit, but his dreams of getting a degree and one day playing on Sundays are still intact.

“I just want the people that judged me to pay close attention to the journey I’m about to go on,” Lane said. “I want people to know that you can’t judge a person from one incident and to look at me as a positive young man. I’ve matured and I’m hungrier than ever; I’m gonna bust my butt everyday to get my degree and get to the league to help my family. My family is proud of me and I’m proud of myself, too, because I never gave up.”

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