March 8, 2014

Home Alone: Lane's solo Christmas spurs drive

The focus for most seniors is at an all-time high. With their careers winding down, the sense of urgency is different.

For senior running back Marlin Lane the journey to now has been one of inconsistency, both on and off the field. But in the now, Lane has never been in a better place.

"My mindset is different coming into this spring and this season," Lane said following the Vols' second spring workout Saturday at Haslam Field. "I have focused on getting my body in the best shape it's ever been.

"I sacrificed on Christmas break. I stayed up here and worked out instead of going home to get my mind together and clearing up my off the field situations. I just thought it's my last year. My freshman, sophomore, and junior years had a lot of ups and downs. I decided I had a month to myself to get my mind right going into my last season."

It was a year ago midway through spring practice that Lane was off the practice field not focusing on football as he dealt with personal and academic issues. The 5-11 back, who's much closer to 215-220 pounds than the 210 he's currently listed, didn't return to practice follwing a trip home for spring break. Lane rejoined the team in June and when he spoke to the media for the first time during two-a-days last August, Lane credited his new head coach for getting him through a trying time.

"Coach (Butch) Jones, he was with me every day," Lane said. "Coach (Robert Gillespie), he stuck with me everyday, Mr. (David) Blackburn (now the athletics director at UT-Chattanooga), I talked to them everyday.

Last season, Lane rushed for 534 yards on just 101 carries highlighted by 4th quarter runs against South Carolina on the game winning drive. This spring Lane finds himself in a new position, the veteran and a leader. It's a position Lane likes and one that he takes with real responsibility.
"It's good," Lane said. "It some ways it's pressure because I have to help teach those guys behind me what to do. It's like in a way I'm coaching them and playing the game at the same time.

"Just being more vocal and energetic. Just changing my demeanor. I was more laid back just taking in stuff. I'm just trying to be more vocal with the younger guys."

It's a mindset that Jones has taken note of with his tailback.

"He led, he was vocal and I liked the way he practiced. He practiced like a senior should in our program," Jones said. "He was leading the younger players, he was coaching them."

For Lane, the now is more important than it's ever been which is why his goals for his senior year are simple.

"I have set some goals. My time is going down by the seconds. I just said every day, every second I'm going to give my all," Lane said.

An attitude that Lane credits to a holiday he spent alone.

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