RS - Lance, tell us which schools, other than Houston, recruited you out of high school.
LE - I was recruited by A&M, TT, OU, KU, K-State and Michigan.
RS - Which factors influenced you to attend the University of Houston?
LE - I wanted to stay here so my family could see me play. I thought it would be best to stay with my mother who was very ill at the time.
RS - What are you currently majoring in and what are your aspirations following school?
LE - I am majoring in sociology and should graduate this year. If I regain my extra year, I will seek a Masters in Kinesiology. I will try to continue playing after school, but I would also like to coach football. First, I want to take care of my education so I will have something to fall back on when my playing days are over.
Image by Pete Medrano
RS - Please tell us a little about your academic athlete award you received this past season at the football banquet and explain what it means to you?
LE - It means a lot, coming out of high school I couldn't play right away and went to UH Downtown. My first semester I made a 4.0 then a 3.5 in my second semester; doing this really helped to get me focused.
RS - Being that you came in as a partial qualifier, are you on target to regain an extra year of eligibility, and is this something you are aspiring to do?
LE - I still have some work to do, but I am planning on coming back for an extra season. I was told by so many people that it would be next to impossible to graduate on time as a partial qualifier, but it only solidified my drive to succeed and to prove them all wrong.
RS - Please give us an update on how your strength and weight program is going and explain how far you have come as far as strength, speed and agility since arriving.
LE - I had lost 45 lbs this summer after I broke my jaw over a six and a half week span, but with Coach Slaughter I have been able to get my strength back. My legs feel stronger than ever right now. I am currently weighing 240 lbs. Having that feeling of not being able to eat made me very hungry in football terms. It made me know the pain of feeling hungry and not being able to eat. Now when I am on the football field it will give me that little extra pop when I hit someone. I am ready to get back out on the football field, it is almost time to eat again.
RS - Has your routine or the team's changed much since Art Briles and staff implemented their strength and conditioning program?
LE - The team is more excited about lifting because of our performance. We can see the results and want to get bigger and stronger. Our attitude about lifting has really changed and our chemistry is so much better now than it was. The University of Houston can win and there is no reason that we can't win. We were young last year, but we are not making excuses.
Image by Pete Medrano
RS - Please explain what your summer preparation for the season consist of as far as conditioning, playing techniques and video analysis?
LE - We do a lot of pulling tires, wind sprints, playing our positions in 7 on 7 drills with the WRs and QBs. One thing I have never seen, that I am noticing now, is when we are doing this, the offensive linemen are working on their pass protection, taking snaps and improving their techniques like they have been. It is awesome. I can see the fire in their eyes and the hunger to win. Everyone needs to do their part whether they are a walk-on, backup or scholarship player, when it comes to watching films, lifting or whatever. Every little bit helps and they need to be ready when called upon.
RS - Please describe what type of adjustments you have had to make going from MLB to OLB, and do you feel comfortable playing either position?
LE - I can play either, whatever the team needs, I just have to be ready no matter what it is.
RS - Without getting into too much detail, explain the difference in your responsibilities on the outside opposed to the inside.
LE - When playing the inside there is a lot of intensity, the big linemen are right there in your face and you have to read everything from inside to out. On the inside you just have to read from the outside going in. We just have to be smarter than the opponent and know what they are going to do before the play.
RS - What other players on our defense do you feel will step up and assume a leadership role for the upcoming season?
LE - I think Joe Clay, Will Gulley, Marquay Love, Willie Gaston, Trent Allen, Ashely Subingsubing, Wade Koehl will all be big for us. Kendrick Goss has really impressed me with his work this summer and is really ready to get on the field and start hitting people.
Image by Pete Medrano
RS - Are there any of the newcomers, who you feel will contribute to our success for this season?
LE - DJ Johnson looks real impressive and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do on the field. He just looks very good. He should be BIG for us this season.
RS - How do you feel next year's defense will grow from the past year. How and why do you feel the defense will be improved?
LE - Having more experience will help, now we know what to expect and how to act when things don't go well. Now that we have been there and experienced different situations, we will be able to handle adversity better. We are more confident in each other and will react better on the field and will be able to correct all the little mistakes we made last year. The little mistakes look really bad on film, but can easily be corrected.
RS - It appears that we will have a lot more beef up front and ability than a year ago, please explain how this helps you as a LB be a better player.
LE - It means that there is less space to cover, and helps the play flow more easily without a large linemen right on top of you.
RS - Which offense do you feel was tougher to defend last year, scheme or talent wise?
LE - I would have to say Louisville, because they run so many sets and it is difficult not knowing which sets they were running. We also had a very young defense and with all the bootlegging they do it was hard not to bite.
RS - Who is the toughest individual you faced this past season?
LE - D'Angelo Williams of Memphis. He loves to laugh on the field, even when he gets hit hard or knocked down he still laughs.
RS - What are your expectations as a team next year?
LE - We expect nothing less than to be the C-USA Champion and play in the Liberty Bowl. We need to treat every game we play in like it is the last game, and let the other team know that they played the University of Houston and that they were in a dawg fight.
Image by Pete Medrano
RS - Some of the early projections from the so-called "experts," has us predicted to finish 6-7 in the conference. Do you read this stuff and does it add fuel to the fire on what you feel, as a team, you still have to prove to all the nonbelievers and the rest of the nation?
LE - It's the same as last season, they didn't give us any respect then and were picking us real low in the conference standings. If you truly have a love for the game then anything negative should add fuel to the fire. We keep stuff like that in our head and take it very seriously, but we will not let it affect our game plan. Last year we were the only ones who believed in ourselves and knew we could do it, but after this season we should start to get some respect but if we don't then we will strive to get some the next season. This year we have a few more people believing in us and each year we prove others wrong we will get a few more to believe in us.
RS - Tell us about your experience in Hawaii and how you think the team will benefit from the experience?
LE - Hawaii was beautiful and very nice, and I will never forget it. It makes us that much hungrier to go back to another bowl game and that is what we expect from here on out, but we know nothing will be given to us. However, as nice as Hawaii was, it is not good enough for us, we want a better bowl game.
RS - There has been a lot of discussion about playing both Rice and Miami in Reliant Stadium next year, is this something you are looking forward to and what are your thoughts on it?
LE - People dream of playing in a professional stadium like Reliant, I used to dream of playing in the Houston Astrodome as I was growing up. It really is like a dream come true to play on the same field as the professionals do on Sundays.
RS - Do you ever read CoogFans.com and what are your thoughts of it as a source for fan interaction/information?
LE - I do sometimes, it keeps me laughing, everyone has their own opinions.
RS - Are there any last words you would like to say to all the Cougar fans out there?
LE - GET READY!!!!!
Lance it has truly been a pleasure talking Cougar football with you. I can sense the resolve and determination in your voice to help take this program to the next level. You are a testament to this University and that every kid can live out his dreams at the University of Houston with your academic accomplishments, as well as your athletic prowess. I did not realize the full measurement of the leadership you bring to the team until I conducted this interview. You are a true leader in every sense of the word. I know that the outside linebacker spot is in great hand for the next two seasons.
Image by Pete Medrano
All images courtesy of Pete Medrano