Robert Lane

Robert Lane knows the ropes of what it takes to play football on the Division I level and in the SEC. This summer, he's not only working hard to get himself ready for his junior campaign at the semi-new position of tight end, he's trying to impress on the newcomers how important the summer workouts are to their immediate success. Read about it inside.

As anyone who follows college football is aware, summer is an important time for aspiring or established players.

The months of June and July are critical for many reasons. Just ask junior Tight End Robert Lane.

"You can't start off two-a-days behind the conditioning or learning curves. If you do, there's a chance you won't catch up until midway through the season," Lane, who was moved permanently to TE in the spring, said. "It is very important to have a good two months in summer.

"You know they are getting ready at Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas now. You better get ready too or the season won't be what you hope and work for."

Lane and all the Rebel veterans are busy doing just that - getting ready for August practice - with a havy summer workload.

"We lift or condition four days a week. Then, on our own, we have 7-on-7 drills on Tuesdays and Thursday. On Mondays and Fridays, we meet on our own in groups. Our group is the tight ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers," he explained. "Then we watch film on our own, individually, at least one day a week. Since the coaches can't be with us, there has to be a great deal of self-motivation involved in most of that."

Each facet of the summer schedule, in Lane's mind, is imperative, downright urgent.

"All the veterans are trying to explain to the newcomers the importance of the summer," he continued. "We stress to them how important it is to come to the meetings, come to the 7-on-7 practices and study on their own. Most of them are learning quickly in terms of 7-on-7 and being at the meetings, but some don't understand, yet, how important it is to watch film on their own. We are trying to lead them by example, but if we need to get vocal, we will.

"They are working hard in the weight room and in any team function, which is good. Most of them are grasping that no matter how good the high school program you came from is, this is a step up and you have to step up your work load way beyond what you used to do then."

Robert is impressed with what he has seen thus far with the rookies on campus.

"This incoming freshman class is loaded with really good athletes. From what I have seen, all of them have a chance to contribute this year. All of them probably won't, but they are athletic enough to do that," he explained. "But they are real raw. They do have a lot to learn. The ones who learn the quickest will probably play in a hurry."

Lane had kudos for "all the new wide receivers," stating they are athletic and fast, but he only named one freshman that has really drawn his attention above and beyond the rest.

"I think (TB) Cordera Eason has a chance to be real special. He reminds me of some of those UT and LSU TBs - he's real big and he can move. He has a tough mentality about the game," Lane noted. "I feel real good about him helping us in a hurry."

Robert is now a tight end, but having played QB most of his career, he knows a good QB when he sees one.

"I've been impressed with all our QBs in the offseason. Cliff Davis has an extremely strong arm - he was a pitcher in pro baseball and his arm strength shows, but he's got to knock the rust off and get back into his football frame of mind," Lane added. "I think he will do that in a hurry. Cliff might end up emerging as someone who helps us this year.

"The three guys back from spring training (Seth Adams, Billy Tapp, Conner Wise) are all doing a very good job. They've all improved since spring in terms of their mechanics and passing efficiency. And true freshman Michael Herrick is an extremely accurate passer. He needs a year in the weight room - he's physically thin - but once he gets some size and strength, he will help this team."

When Robert was at quarterback, he was constantly having to battle his weight. His body wanted to gravitate toward 240 pounds but his position called for him to try to stay around 220-225.

"That was a struggle because when I lift weights my body just blows up. I'd have to quit lifting during the season when I was at QB," explained Lane. "Now, I can lift all I want because I want to get bigger and stronger and my body feels more natural.

"I'm at 242-245 now and wouldn't mind putting on some more weight if it is the right kind of weight - muscle. I know I have gotten stronger as my body has adjusted to the extra weight I am carrying. I have improved my bench press over 30 pounds since the offseason began in January."

Overall, Lane feels good about what's happening in the summer camp - as a team and individually. But he's quick to caution everyone involved that there is no let up in the mission.

"As a team, we need to treat this time like we are in the middle of the season. Our focus, our intensity, our work ethic, our conditioning and our knowledge are all being formed and fine-tuned now," he closed. "Nobody can afford to fall behind. The team can't wait until August rolls around to get ready."

And it doesn't sound like they are.

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