Chris LeFlore - DB - 6-1, 185, 4.35/40 - Omaha, NE. (Central) - As the season draws ever closer, the experts pick their prime time players. They find those that are going to make the biggest impact this season and dub them, five star, best or one to watch. All of those players have one thing in common. This up-coming season isn't the beginning. Since the end of their last campaign, they have been training for the next and because of that dedication, success is where their road leads. Chris is one of those that willingly paid the price and to make him even better than some, he had some rather lofty aid.
An off-season isn't an off-season anymore. It actually should be renamed to something like "the interim", "halftime" maybe or something indicating that what they are about to go through isn't a break or even a brief respite, but another chance to get better before the next season begins. Chris has help in that venture and he has it from some pretty talented and athletic players in their own right, teammate, receiver and fellow Division 1-A recruit, E.J. Faulkner and a current Nebraska Cornhusker receiver and brother, Mark LeFlore have both helped Chris try to step his game even farther.
At his chosen position of defensive back, Chris has been tested to his limits trying to guard either his brother, Mark or teammate, Faulkner. Each presenting different modes of how they beat their man, LeFlore has found himself developing a versatility that will only aid him at the next level. "I've been playing with defense on Mark and E.J. and I have been doing very good against them." Chris said. "Those two are like the best out there. When I am guarding Mark, I can stay with him, but he can jump like nobody. He just goes way up there to get it and E.J., he will burn you off the line. If he gets you off the line, it's over."
With two varying styles in wide receivers, Chris has been able to adjust to a variety of circumstances, all the while developing his fundamentals. When it comes to turning your head around and looking for the ball while maintaining coverage, Chris works on it constantly, but says that it's something that's simply on-going. "It's something that you have to work on." Chris stated. If you don't have speed, if you look back, the receiver is just going to go past you. When I play defense on E.J. and Mark, if I play defense on them, I can keep up with him, but if I look back at the wrong point, they will keep on going away from me."
Chris doesn't stop learning with just his closest influences. He has actually spanned a few states to find yet more to learn from another standout CB. "My dad got me some tapes of Quentin Jammer." LeFlore stated. "I would look at his stance, how he plays defense and follow a little of what he does, but I also follow some of what the Nebraska coaches teach. I actually have taken the stance of Jammer and taken the technique of what the Nebraska coaches have taught me and put that in there."
There is a term used for the consummate learners in any sport they compete in and that is, "student of the game". Those that suck up any knowledge they can and learn from all those around them to better their game and their effectiveness on the field. LeFlore's goal here is to make himself better, but in turn, he makes himself even more attractive to schools recruiting him, because his stock just continues to soar.
Since we last talked, not much has changed in the way of who Chris is looking at and it would appear for two very important reasons. Friends and location. Iowa State and Nebraska both meet the criteria perfectly as he has a multitude of friends at UNL, but has some as well that play for the Cyclones, in JaMaine Billups particularly. Chris continues to be the break from the norm in that he is an in-state player in the state of the Nebraska Cornhuskers that hasn't all but committed to the Big Red. And it's certainly not for the lack of pressure as you know about his friends that attend UNL, but to have a brother there, some might think it's a no-brainer. Not so, says LeFlore. "I have seen the Nebraska campus obviously, but I haven't seen any others." Chris said. "There's a lot of pressure to be a Husker, but there is a lot of pressure to be a Cyclone as well. Both are close, I have friends at both places, so it's not as easy as everyone thinks."
Though there seems to be a personal dilemma off the field as to where he plans on attending college, there isn't one on the field as Chris is in his world, doing his thing and at defensive back, he's at the height in terms of comfort level. "I like to play corner. I like to guard someone and hit someone. I just love the feeling of playing defense." Chris stated.
With that love, there is a passion for playing against the best. Chris has certainly met some of those desires in consistent practices against teammate, E.J. Faulkner and brother, Mark LeFlore, but LeFlore is looking at this season and at one particular game.
Though neither Omaha Central and Lincoln Southeast are the defending state champs, each one of these schools is considered to be teams that will have to be beaten before anyone else has a chance at the Class A crown. Fittingly enough, they meet in a game that could very well be the precursor to this year's state champion. Talent abound on either side, each team is loaded with weapons. Obviously Chris LeFlore is a player that Central relies heavily upon, but Lincoln Southeast will be relying on various players as well, one in particular that has Chris ready to play. Newly transferred (from Lincoln East), Andy Birkel is already a Husker commit, already into the ranks of pre-season All-State candidates and his talent at WR will be a test for the equally hyped, Chris LeFlore. It's a promise of a battle between prep standouts and one that Chris simply enjoys just thinking about. "I want to guard him so bad." Chris stated. "That's the main thing right there. I want to go man up with Andy. That will definitely be a show. It will be a heck of a match up and I hope I can get some man-to-man on him."
There's no doubting Chris's enthusiasm and there's no doubting Chris's talent. Plus, his vaunted athleticism is not a myth. This kid can basically do it all. His final season promises to be a show, just as he stated, but not for one game, not even a few, but an entire year that most in-state enthusiasts will be watching. There may be no off-season anymore, but it's only the real season that matters and for teams that covet Chris's abilities and fans that hope he ends up on their team, their wait to see what his final year will be like is just about to an end.