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News » 7 Points: Don't overlook OSU's Laurinaitis

7 Points: Don't overlook OSU's Laurinaitis

7 Points: Don't overlook OSU's Laurinaitis
  • Point No. 1: Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis has simply been too good for too long.

  • In a world where the media and fans often overreact to their short-term memories, talented players who posted attention-grabbing performances during their senior year are too often heralded as "can't-miss" prospects. But in reality, some will wash out after they've pocketed millions of dollars.

    "While some may see it as a down moment, it gave me time to find myself, get to knoweverybody around me better, see who were my friends, see who were my family, the people were who were going to try to help me be better," he said during an exclusive interview. "My coaches still wanted me conditioning and learning, and I was thankfulfor them and my teammates because they were still behind me."

    Throughout the experience, Jean-Francois had one message for his teammatessince he knew that his suspension would end prior to the the SEC hampionshipgame.

    "All I kept telling my teammates the whole season was that if you get me to Atlanta, I promise you I'll take care of the rest. Just get me to Atlanta," he said.

    After seeing some limited action in the SEC championship game, Jean-Francois delivered on his promise in the national championship game in 2008, making six tackles, getting pressure on the quarterback and blocking a kick that shifted the momentum of the game for good in LSU's favor. The personable lineman was named the Defensive MVP of the game.

    "I was shocked when they told me I was the Defensive MVP," Jean-Francois said. "When they said my name, I was halfway up into the stands already dancing with the fans. That was one of the greatest moments of my life, getting to that point and seeing how blessed Iwas, how appreciative I was to the game. It's like I tell everybody, to get something out ofthe game, you've got to give it. Respect the game and the game is going to respectyou."

    The Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, the Saints, Dolphins, Rams, and Eagles are among the teams who have shown interest in the talented defensive lineman.

  • Point No. 7: Kentucky's Dicky Lyons blames Peyton Manning for a serious knee injury that hindered his opportunity to position himself among the top receivers in this year's draft.

    Of course, Lyons, the Wildcats' top receiver heading into the 2008 season, makes the statement with a mischievous laugh.

    During his junior year, Lyons caught 56 balls for 655 yards and seven touchdowns. He headed into his senior year with lofty, but achievable goals and NFL dreams.

    "First of all, I wanted to get into the record books, because I went into my senior year close to setting records in almost all of the receiving categories," he said. "I ended in the top five in all of them even though I only finished five games. To me, my senior year was all about proving that I could be that go-to guy who was instrumental in getting us into a bowl game."

    But during the sixth game of the year, he caught a pass off of a quick out at South Carolina's four-yard line and turned up the field in an attempt to score. He tore his MCL and PCL on the play.

    "A guy horse-collared me and brought my head down to my right knee. I heard two pops and that was all she wrote," he said.

    Prior to the start of his senior year, Lyons had attended Manning's summer camp to help instruct high-school athletes. One morning, the Colts quarterback invited him to work out with him.

    "I ran a five-yard out route, turned it up the field and Peyton was like, 'Dicky, that's great. I love that! Most guys catch that and just run out of bounds, and I hate that.' So that's what was in my mind on that play before I got injured. I was trying to turn it up. So I blame Peyton for that," he said with a laugh.

    Lyons says that he's about 80-percent recovered, has no limits on what he can do, and is now working out every day to continue to build strength in the knee. The Patriots have already put him through a workout that lasted roughly two hours, so Lyons, who sees himself as being cut from the same mold as Brandon Stokley and Wes Welker, is still optimistic that he has a bright future in pro football.

    "If you're looking for a guy to play the slot, there's nobody more reliable and who can do it better than I can, that's how I honestly feel," he said. "I think I have the intelligence to read the coverages and to find those weaknesses in a defense."

  • Author:Fox Sports
    Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
    Added: April 19, 2009

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