The etymology of Yakima (Wash.) West Valley offensive lineman Shane Lemieux's surname is The Best, in French. When it comes to his attitude on the football field, California offensive line coach Zach Yenser certainly pense que le meilleur des Lemieux.
"He loves my flexibility in my hips, my footwork and the toughness I play with," Lemieux tells BearTerritory. "I don't take any plays off. Every play is 100 percent. It's just kind of that blue-collar mean."
Mean is just how Lemieux's father grew up. His hardscrabble rise to being a nuclear engineer is a big part of Lemieux's personality, and it informs his priorities when choosing a potential college destination.
"He said, ‘Football comes second. You can only play football for so long,'" Lemieux says. "He started as a contractor after high school, and he worked his way up. He worked at Diablo Canyon, he's worked at Nevada Test Site, and now he's building power plants over in South Carolina.
"He couldn't afford it. He wanted to, but his family couldn't afford it. He grew up poor, and it's kind of inspiring. He said that he had to steal vegetables out of his neighbor's garden, just to live."
While Lemieux doesn't have to run away from flying farm implements, he prides himself on being able to do just that, if he ever had to.
"I've got some agility, the footwork," he laughs.
Lemieux himself is fairly fond of catapulting sundry items through the air, though, including the shot put, the discus, the javelin and, frankly, himself.
His freshman spring and this coming spring, he's a track and field man, participating in the throws, the 100-meters and yes, even the triple jump. He has to replace his own divots, though.
"I do track to get better for football," says the two-way line starter. "My flexibility, my speed, my fundamentals of running and then, of course, my shot put and my triple jump – I just love competing. I'm not one of those big, old, fat offensive linemen. I run a 4.98-5.00 40. I try to be as athletic as I can be. That's what offensive linemen need. I kind of hate when people say, ‘Oh, man, you're just a big offensive lineman.' I'm fast, too! I mean, I can keep up with those little safeties."
His best time in the 100 is 12.64 seconds, and, he says. Lemieux has also been training at the shot and discus for the past several weeks, and while he's never thrown the shot in competition before, his best javelin throw is 135 feet, his freshman year. Why hasn't a 6-foot-6, 280-pounder thrown a single shot before this year? Well, last spring, he was playing rugby.
"I was actually a lock," Lemieux says. "Rugby was just pretty much to see if I could do it. I had a buddy who was a senior on the football team nag at me every day, ‘Come play rugby, come play rugby,' and he's trying out for the USA Rugby team right now. I played last year just to see if I could do it, but everyone insisted on me coming back to track. Plus, in track, I can work on football kind of stuff. Rugby is kind of a club sport, but I was thinking about doing both rugby and track this spring."
While he won't be suiting up any time soon in the blue and gold rugby stripes, Lemieux taking the field in Memorial Stadium isn't that far out of the realm of possibility.
"As of right now, the (South Carolina) Gamecocks and Oregon are my top two," Lemieux says. "I can't decide between those two, for some reason, but then I have Boise State, Arizona State and Cal tied for second, so I just want to get down there and see what it's all about."
Lemieux is more than familiar with the Golden State, having lived here until he was five-years old, when he and his family moved up to the Northwest.
"I was born in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and my mom grew up there," Lemieux says. "My whole family has pretty much lived there at one time. So, I'm pretty familiar with the Bay Area, and I'm pretty familiar with Cal and the Pac-12. I just mostly know them for their academics. I was really excited when I first got the offer, when I first started talking to Coach, because I've been trying to get a hold of them for a while, but they're up there. I think they can be a top-contending Pac-12 school. They're great, academics-wise, they're close to my family in California. It's a pretty special thing, close to home."
Currently hovering above a 3.0 GPA, Lemieux wants to bump that mark up to a 3.2 by the end of the year. He's taking the SAT on May 3, but before that, he plans on making a little trip down Berkeley way.
"Definitely. My schedule's pretty full for February and March, but I'm thinking about coming down there in mid-April," Lemieux says. "I've never been in Berkeley. It's in California, and I'm familiar with California, but I'm not very familiar with the Bay Area, so I'm just trying to get all of my unofficial visits in, and then decide my official visits when I can, and then pick the ones that I really want to go to."
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