More than Sophomores

Adrien Cole and Christian Lacey were thrown into the fire as true freshmen. They more than handled the challenge and are ready for even bigger things in 2009.

Adrien Cole came into the season not knowing if he would even play as a true freshman last year. "I thought I was going to red shirt," he said. "I had two seniors in front of me. I was just at the right place at the right time. I think last year's experience will be good for me and Christian."

Cole finished the season with 30 tackles while filling in for Brannon Jackson. He had 7 tackles against New Mexico State. Christian Lacey had 12 tackles from his defensive end position and 4 sacks. Lacey was named the LaTech Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded two sacks against NMSU. The two players have already emerged as leaders in just their second year.

Head Coach Derek Dooley acknowledged that he is looking for young guys to step into leadership roles. "While we're trying to develop the leadership and we feel like we have the emerging leaders and a lot of guys who are being vocal and leading by example," explained Dooley. "You still never know until you hit adversity."

Seniors D'Anthony Smith and Antonio Baker have stepped into leadership roles. Smith said he has some help in the front seven. "We lost a couple of key leaders last year," he said. "but myself and a couple of last year's freshmen - Adrien Cole in particular - have been working to step up and be this group's leaders."

Coach Dooley said he is also looking for someone to pressure opposing quarterbacks. "Lacey has shown the most ability and had the most production when we needed it," Dooley mentioned when talking about his returning defensive ends.

While Baker and Smith might be easy to point out as leaders being the two senior star players on the defense, Lacey and Cole aren't letting their youth hold them back. "It's not really that hard (to step up as a leader)," explained Cole. "The whole team, we gel together. It doesn't matter what class you are, as long as you step up and get it done."

"I always take to heart what Coach Dooley says that whenever you set foot on the field, you're a starter," added Lacey. "If I go out there and give everything I've got, then that's being a leader right there. I've got eleven guys and I'm trying to give them energy."

Both Cole and Lacey are used to being overlooked. "I always felt that I was overlooked because of my size," said the 5'11" Cole. "Really, when it comes down to it, what matters is if you can get the job done."

Lacey led Archbishop to the 4A State Championship Game and was named 4A Defensive Player of the Year. Cole led McGill-Toolen to the 6A Semi-finals in Alabama. He was named the 6A Defensive Player of the Year and the Mobile Area Defensive Player of the Year.

Cole had a story from high school that he says he will never forget. "The recruiting coordinator at Alabama told me once that he wishes he could take me behind the field house and put me on the stretching table so I could be a couple of inches taller. My Dad always told me that things happen for a reason. I'm blessed and I thank God that I'm here at Louisiana Tech."

Lacey, a 6'1" defensive end, had similar memories. "Sometimes I feel if I was a couple of inches taller, being a d-end, it would help me go against 6'6" or 6'7" tackles. I remember going in my coach's office in high school. A coach had come to see me and he didn't even give me a second look. Things could have been different, but I'm very happy to be in the situation that I'm in, playing ball at Louisiana Tech. We want to win the WAC this year, we have real big expectations.

Look for big seasons out of both Christian Lacey and Adrien Cole. Both players are very mature, regardless of their classification, and they have been recognized for their hard work. They are both proud to be Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Tech fans should be proud to have them. Christian Lacey and Adrien Cole represent the best in Louisiana Tech University.

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