The final five and the process for Lyons

With five teams basically vying for the services of Wayne Lyons, a long but thorough recruiting process seems to have paid off. While the decision hasn't happened as of yet, for Lyons and his mother, the process has made that eventual decision one where they know they are going to be happy with the result.

I suppose it's worth repeating, because it is one of the more unusual stories we have read about this year.

The questionnaire, 50 questions in all, that Wayne Lyons and his mother, Gwen, put together.

It was meant to cover every detail they thought was pertinent to what might have an impact on the life of a student-athlete at the collegiate level.

It was also a nice and tidy way to weed out those who weren't willing to go to those lengths in trying to get Lyons to consider their school in the future.

But the list of those interested was still enormous.

From a list that was well passed 30 offers, it's now been cut down to five. Five schools that Lyons' mother said not only answered the lengthy questionnaire, not only provided an educational experience on their visit, but offered the best combination of athletics and academics. "It was about need for him as an athlete, because we looked at what they had coming back, who they were losing and all of that," she said. "But the biggest thing was about academics. When I went on these visits, I couldn't have cared less about the facilities, because they are all good. What I wanted to see was a lot of the stuff we asked about early on in the process. But it's different when you get to see it up close."

The visit to Nebraska was an interesting one, because Wayne got his wish, more or less. As a Florida native, he had never seen snow. He got that on his visit to Lincoln, but he got temperatures below zero to boot.

Lyons' mother found the visit from that standpoint both a bit humorous and a bit annoying. "Well, it was what Wayne was hoping for. He was just hoping it would snow so he could see it on his visit. And when we left all the coaches and other people were being kind of funny, because they were thanking him for bringing that stuff with him," she said. "But I just find it so ridiculous that everyone thinks snow and cold is going to have any impact on Wayne's decision. He's from Florida, and it was cold up there, but that has nothing to do with his future.

"He's not picking a school because of the weather, so I don't know where people get that if we have schools that we are looking at, weather is going to separate any of them. It won't. Not at all."

One of the big things that will indeed play a part, is one of the things that has stood at the top of this list since the beginning. Lyons is a straight-A student, which includes four of them in college prep courses he took and just received his results back on yesterday. Calculus, Government, Composition II and Health. All "A"s, and all college courses which will apply to his degree at any of the five Universities he's narrowed his list down to, which is comprised of UCLA, Michigan, Stanford, Nebraska and Florida.

And since his most recent visit was to Nebraska, Lyons' mother talked about the thing she was the most impressed with when it came to what Nebraska had to offer her son. "The Life Skills program they have is absolutely phenomenal. What Dennis LeBlanc and his staff have done there is great," she said. "I also like the fact that it's in the same building and on the path of other places he would have to be like where they eat, go to meetings and practice. So, it was very impressive what they have done there, because all the schools have their own academic support systems, but Nebraska has an entire area devoted to it."

The other thing she said he likes to watch is Wayne himself.

As his mother, you can figure that any little change in his face, she notices. Any little difference in the inflections of his voice when talking about something regarding any of these schools - she can tell you what they mean. On these official visits they have both taken, that's something she was very keen on observing. "I know him well enough to know how he is reacting to something just based on his face. I can tell when he's enjoying himself or if something really interests him,"she said. "So, it's important to me to watch him when he's interacting with others on these visits, because I can tell if he's having a good time or not."

For Wayne himself, he knows she can read him when they are around each other, but like it is on all official visits, they are both off exploring other things. "I was hanging out with the twins, the Osborne brothers, "J Will" (Josh Williams) and Alfonzo (Dennard)," he said. "They were real cool guys."

Speaking of cool, and yes, we had to bring it up, though, we know that it's not a factor. But come on, even I as a Lincolnite remember that weekend and you bet, it was cold. But Wayne said he was ready for it, because whether people were telling him it would be cold so he'd be prepared or so they could try and convince him that's not a place to go, their advice was actually spot on. "I know it's the coldest I have ever been, but what made it bad was the wind," he said. "But cold is cold. That doesn't mean much to me."

What did mean a lot to him in regard to the Husker visit was obviously seeing stuff he had heard about or been told. The "Life Skills" department, which is at the center of the academic support system, obviously struck him as one of the highlights. "It's really cool how all that is right in the same area where all the other stuff is. They have their own area, which makes it nice," he said. "I also liked the Construction Management program they had."

Now the one thing we know about Wayne and his mother, aside from being very aware of just how methodical they have been throughout the process, is that once a list has been set, whether it's the five now or the 14 it was once just a few months ago - they aren't tipping their hand on a favorite among that group.

But with the recent change at Florida, former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp taking over, I had to ask what he thought about him and if he's had a chance to talk to him as of yet. "Yeah, I talked to him. He seems like a pretty cool guy," Lyons said. "And he's a defensive dude, so that's a plus for me.

Wayne said you could say pretty much the same thing about the Huskers. "Yeah, Bo Pelini, he knows defense. They are all about defense up there," he said. "If you want to go to play defense and go to the NFL, that's the place to be."

Of course, it isn't all about the NFL, as we have seen with Lyons. Like fellow Floridian and former Florida State Seminole Myron Rolle, who actually won a Rhoads Scholarship, Wayne has a few goals that don't have a thing to do with the professional league.

But it all plays a part, that being the academics, the athletics, the atmosphere and the experience he's going to have for the next four to five years of his life. Lyons' process of figuring that place out is certainly unusual, but for Lyons mother as she looked back on it all, it worked to a tee. "I'm glad we did it that way. I am glad that we asked all the questions we needed to ask, because I think it got all the stuff out of the way and coaches knew that they had to be very honest with us," she said. "We made sure that as we narrowed the list down, it was going to be the schools which all fit what we set at the beginning."

And there will be one more time, perhaps twice, when they will sit down again, and go back over that list and compare. And then when coaches make their final in-home visits in January, they will sit down and look at it again.

It was a big check off list to begin with, but it's been the tool for how they have made decisions ever since. And both she and Wayne know that whichever school they pick, now they know they are in good hands all the way around. "I feel very good about the coaches we have talked to, because I feel they have been straightforward with us, and that's a big key," she said, and her son concurred. "They are all great coaching staffs, and I know that it's going to be a good decision for me, no matter which place I choose."

Stay tuned for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 8th, aired on NBC. Then we'll all know which school among the quintet, is going to be one heck of a student-athlete richer by the end of the day.


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