Lancaster earning respect

Just one year ago, Plainfield East (Ill.) lineman Tyler Lancaster was under recruited and little known. He would work to earn offers, become a Northwestern recruit, and gain respect. Wednesday, he signed a letter of intent to Northwestern, but he's still hungry to keep improving.

Pat Fitzgerald preaches the importance of letting his commits enjoy their senior year of high school. Other coaches accept early enrollees. Fitzgerald jokes that he even played baseball before heading to Northwestern.

After all the hard work that Tyler Lancaster put into football, he earned some relaxation. To him, that means shot put. The promising, relatively unheralded commit is preparing for his first track and field meet tomorrow.

"I'm trying to keep it as fun as possible while staying ahead on work," Lancaster said of his senior year. "It's my first year of track but I'm doing it just for fun."

Initially, Lancaster received very little attention on the gridiron. He was under-recruited, and needed to earn recognition with excellent play at camps.

Then, Lancaster started to dominate. He had his breakout performance at a Nike Football Camp in Champaign early this summer, and followed that up with another strong showing at the Northwestern camp. Lancaster built his confidence, and he was ecstatic upon being offered by NU.

"The process was tough, seeing a bunch of kids around me getting offers," he said. "I didn't get any until February of last year. But when (the NU offer) finally came, it was such a relief."

Lancaster – like many other 2013 commits – faces an interesting positional situation. The coaches may transition him to the defensive line, but with his growing ability, Lancaster should eventually be able to fill a spot on the offensive line.

Regardless, Lancaster will stay determined. Once an underdog, always an underdog.

"I want to show up and surprise people," Lancaster said. "Hopefully in the first couple of years, I can get into a starting spot without anyone else seeing it."

As for his preparation, Lancaster knows where to improve.

"They want me to stay motivated throughout, especially for running," he said. "The strength is there. I just have to be ready with cardio when I get there."

Lancaster is thrilled to have finally signed with Northwestern. He praised the tight-knit group of commits, who post on their Facebook group regularly. They are supportive of each other, and ready to contribute to future Northwestern football success.

It was the school Lancaster dreamed of. The hard work paid off, and that tough process ended on Signing Day.

"It was exciting," he said. "It's been the school I wanted to go to. Now I know it's going to be my home for the next five years."

Follow on Twitter: @NicholasMedline

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