words // Austen Lane
If you ever drive through my hometown of Iola, WI, you’ll notice a few things: there aren’t any stoplights, there are no fast food restaurants, and it only takes about 3 minutes get through the whole town. So how does a kid who had only 250-something students in his whole high school make it to the NFL?
Ever since I scored my first touchdown in third grade, I loved the game of football. I knew I wanted to play it as long as possible, but I didn’t have an end goal in mind. During my high school years, I had a dream of getting a full ride and playing football at the collegiate level. Although I had a very productive high school career, the Division I colleges weren’t giving me any respect because I supposedly didn’t “play against good competition.” This gave me a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong — a chip that I still have to this day. It seemed like my dream was lost until a week before signing period, when Murray State University offered me a full scholarship. With that being my only full ride offer, I took it without hesitation and ironically being the only school that wanted me to play defensive end. My first two years were mediocre at best. I started every game except for one, but my numbers were far from expectations. It was my sophomore exit interview with the defensive line coach that set the path to where I am today. My coach told me that he was disappointed in me and that he saw something in me that I had to believe in. I took those words to heart. It was having the burden of letting my coach down that gave me a new found fire that helped take my training to the next level. It paid dividends during my next two seasons.
Going into my senior year, I was receiving ten different calls a night from agents and financial advisors. This started to become overwhelming until I took a piece of my mom’s advice that proved to be one of the most important decisions I have ever made. I turned my phone off. She told me, “You deserve to enjoy your senior year, just have fun with your team while you can.” I didn’t pay any attention to all the draft experts or what people were saying. Instead, I just focused on my teammates and doing everything possible to try to win a championship. I knew if I took care of business on the field, then the rest of the NFL distraction would be there when my season was done. After a late Senior Bowl invite and a good Combine showing, I became the highest drafted player in Murray State history. I was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars as the 158th pick in the fifth round.
As I write this bio, I am currently going into my second NFL season. The purpose of me writing this wasn’t to brag of my high school or college stats, hence why I didn’t share them. My stats didn’t get me to where I am today. My work ethic, passion, the great people in my life, and having a little faith got me to where I am. There is no trick or scheme, I am simply a product of my environment. It doesn’t matter where you come from, so much as where you’re going, but once you get to where you want to go I promise you will have a new appreciation for where you came from.