HOOVER, Ala. - The career of Robert Lane continues to take many twists and turns. Thursday he made his first visit to SEC Media Days as a spokesperson for his team.
Lane has always wanted to be out in front, in the spotlight, to be in charge. That meant playing quarterback for an SEC program. But it was never about himself. It was about "team."
Once upon a time that appeared to be for his homestate team, the LSU Tigers. Then it looked like he might be "the" starter for Ole Miss. That was more than once.
After redshirting while Eli Manning finished up his storied career with 10 wins and a Cotton Bowl championship in 2003, Lane was a part of the three-headed quarterback experiment of 2004, which actually spilled over throughout the 2005 season. Micheal Spurlock, Ethan Flatt, and Lane all got shots to become "the man" but two different coaching staffs never completely decided on any one of the three. Late last season Lane got involved in the offense at H-back and tight end and caught four passes against Arkansas and six against LSU.
But those old days appear to be gone. Spurlock's eligibility is over and Flatt is no longer on the team. Lane, after weighing thoughts of leaving Ole Miss for other schools where he might play quarterback, is now a tight end and actually loving it. Why? Because he gets to play and help the team win.
"I played a little tight end last season and was able to work this spring on learning the techniques of my position," said the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Lane. "I'm excited about going into camp this fall and competing and not only holding my position but playing well. I'm still learning the techniques for my position, mainly because I played quarterback for four years in high school and three years in college. I just love playing football - offense, defense, special teams, whatever. As long as I'm on the field I'm happy."
Lane will likely be on the field a lot. He's pleased the new offensive gameplan seems to include the tight end more than perhaps Rebel coaches have in the past.
"Things are going great on offense," Lane said. "With Coach (Dan) Werner and Coach (Art) Kehoe here now, it's exciting. They both came from Miami and were successful and had great tight ends. So I'm looking forward to playing for them. Their offense is tight end friendly."
After a redshirt year and then a season and a half of a "now he's in, now he's not" situation at quarterback, Lane almost welcomed the change, however slowly, when head coach Ed Orgeron first talked to him about it during the season of 2005.
"Coach Orgeron called me in after the Alabama game (sixth game of the season) and said they wanted to get me in the game more. He asked if I'd be willing to change positions to H-back or tight end. I said that was fine with me. I just wanted to play. I had some success in the Kentucky game (the next week) and really had a good game against Arkansas with over 100 yards receiving."
Perhaps, then, his quarterbacking days were over, which took some time to sink in for Lane and really for him to accept. There were some moments when he went back and forth, mostly after the season when he entertained thoughts of departing.
He admitted Thursday he would be willing to step in at a moment's notice under center, something he's certainly accustomed to as a Rebel quarterback, if that was what was needed at any time during the season. He doesn't believe that will be the case, however.
He also said his affection for Ole Miss was a determining factor in his decision to stay.
"I love Ole Miss and the people here," he said. "I like my teammates and we have great facilities. I just wanted to stay. It was really that simple in the end."
So he stayed and he began to feel and look comfortable as a tight end in the spring. He caught two passes in the Red-Blue Game for 24 yards.
Now he serves as one of the leaders of the team, one of those counted on to lead and to lift the team on and off the field.
And, of course, answer questions about hopeful Rebel starting quarterback Brent Schaeffer.
"I guess I was asked about him 100 times (Thursday)," said Lane when quizzed by a reporter how often he'd been asked about the former Tennesse Vol signal-caller turned Ole Miss Rebel. "But we're excited for him to get in here and be our starting quarterback. I know he's a great athlete. I believe he will be successful here. And we'll do whatever we can to help make him successful."
Spoken like the true veteran and team leader that Robert Lane has clearly become.
Lane happy to be playing for Ole Miss
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