AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Being thrown into the fire in a situation a person or player may not necessarily be ready for can have one of two reactions -- either they flame out, unable to handle the heat, or they adjust and grow, learning on the fly.
For 2016 Walled Lake (Mich.) Western cornerback Darnell Lanier, playing varsity as a freshman was a formative experience. Helping his team advance to within one game of the final four in the 2012 MHSAA football playoffs for division two, Lanier has a renewed focus and an even bigger goal heading into 2013.
“It was a good experience,” Lanier told GoBlueWolverine. “I was kind of nervous at first but then once I got the hang of it and everyone started helping me out, I felt like I finished out a good season. I got one interception and one pass break-up.”
“I think getting that far changed me as a person. It made me a better player and showed how much hard work and dedication you have to put into football to get so far. I think I’m ready to win a state championship next year.”
Competing in the Midwest Elite 7-on-7 tournament over Memorial Day weekend, Lanier is putting in his time during the off-season, hoping it all translates back to the gridiron this fall.
“Things are going good,” said Lanier. “I’m just out here trying to get better, become a better player, work with my teammates, and just do as well as I can do.”
“I just want to develop as much as I can. Just keep on training, keep on working hard, take no days off, and I’ll be where I want to be.”
Lanier competed at the Michigan football camp in the summer of 2012, forming a very positive bond with Wolverine assistant and defensive backs coach Curt Mallory.
“He was a good coach,” said Lanier. “He got on me a few times for not listening. I was using my head but when I made a mistake he made sure he corrected it and he corrected all of my inappropriate things I did on the field so I had to make sure I had to do the right things all the time.
“Working with those coaches was a very good for me. It changed my attitude, changed my game; showed me what I had to do to get out there on the football field. Coaches came up to me and talked to me, liked the things I was doing, and I can’t wait to go back again.”
Lanier will be in Ann Arbor for the Michigan camp again this June. Although it’s still very early in his recruitment, Lanier can’t hide his feelings toward the Wolverines.
“I just like Michigan,” said Lanier. “Michigan is a good school, I think they’ve got a good football program, and I would like to go there.”