Fa­ther­hood, chance to play re­shape Lane

Se­nior slot re­ceiver has bro­ken through at last

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — De­An­dre Lane did not do much on the foot­ball field his first three years at Mary­land, where he was buried on the depth chart at slot re­ceiver be­hind Ste­fon Diggs and Taivon Ja­cobs.

Quiet by na­ture, Lane didn’t com­plain about not ful­fill­ing the prom­ise he showed at Ca­tonsville. Two ma­jor life changes have helped shape the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Lane’s se­nior year.

The first took place when Lane, a week short of his 20th birth­day, be­came a fa­ther in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

The sec­ond hap­pened when DJ Durkin was hired as Mary­land’s coach in De­cem­ber and Walt Bell was brought in as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Go­ing into Satur­day’s Big Ten opener against Pur­due (2-1) at Mary­land Sta­dium, Lane is tied for sec­ond on the Terps (3-0) with eight re­cep­tions, and third in re­ceiv­ing yards with 98.

Lane, who emerged late last sea­son af­ter coach Randy Ed­sall was fired, con­cedes that his ca­reer had been a strug­gle for most of his first three years.

“It was hard,” Lane said Wednes­day. “I kind of kept my head down, kept work­ing, stayed quiet. …With Ed­sall get­ting fired, Locks [for­mer of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Lock­sley, who re­placed Ed­sall on an in­terim ba­sis] kind of had this idea that he wanted to play more peo­ple to keep peo­ple fresh.”

Lane cred­its his re­silience to the birth of his daugh­ter, Kylie, and her mother, Paige Mitchell, who is still his girl­friend. Satur­day, 3:30 p.m. TV: Big Ten Net­work Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Mary­land by 10 De­An­dre Lane cred­its his re­silience to his daugh­ter, Kylie, and her mother.

“They’ve been sup­port­ive, that’s kind of what’s kept me go­ing,” Lane said. “Even if I ever start to get down a lit­tle bit, they’ll pick me up. I know I have her [Kylie]. She al­ways puts a smile on my face. I look at her and this is why I’m do­ing what I’m do­ing. It kind of flips my mood. I get a whole pos­i­tive mood about ev­ery­thing.”

Al­though he and Mitchell had been dat­ing for just three months when they learned she was preg­nant, their re­la­tion­ship has grown dra­mat­i­cally as they raise their daugh­ter, with help from their fam­i­lies. Kylie lives with Mitchell and her fam­ily in Columbia.

“It was kind of some­thing that caught us both by sur­prise,” Lane said. “We de­cided we should keep it, work to­gether. There’ve been rough patches, but all to­gether I thought we’ve done a good job. Our daugh­ter’s happy. She’s like a re­ally en­er­getic, happy kid. It kind of makes it all worth it at the end of the day.”

Mitchell, who turns 21 to­day, works full time as a server at a Howard County restau­rant. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Atholton, Mitchell said, she wasn’t think­ing about go­ing to col­lege. Now she plans to start school af­ter Lane grad­u­ates with a de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice.

Along with read­just­ing her own goals, Mitchell has seen a dif­fer­ence in Lane.

“I def­i­nitely saw a big change in his ma­tu­rity level, and mine as well, us be­ing kids and hav­ing a kid, it was like, ‘What are we sup­posed to do?’ ” Mitchell said. “We kind of guided each other through it. He’s def­i­nitely been a great dad. He loves Kylie to death; he calls her and vis­its when­ever he has free time.”

Lane quickly un­der­stood his role as a fa­ther af­ter Kylie was born.

“I kind of re­al­ized life wasn’t just about me any­more,” he said. “I feel that kind of hon­estly helped me as far as be­ing a team De­An­dre Lane said he had his best aca­demic se­mes­ter, mak­ing the dean’s list, right af­ter his daugh­ter, Kylie, was born. player. It was like, ‘OK, I’m not just do­ing this for me any­more.’ Now with the team, I’m not just play­ing for me, I have to have their back.”

Around the time his daugh­ter was born, Lane talked with team­mates Quin­ton Jef­fer­son and Ja­cobs, both of whom fa­thered chil­dren while play­ing at Mary­land. They told him it wasn’t go­ing to be easy.

Lane had an­other role model for be­ing a young par­ent: his mother.

Sharon Cains was 18 and had re­cently grad­u­ated from high school when she gave birth to her son. As a sin­gle mother, Cains put her­self through BCCC-Ca­tonsville and the Univer­sity of Bal­ti­more. Cains now works for Howard County schedul­ing do­mes­tic court cases.

Cains said the older of her two chil­dren is not that much dif­fer­ent as a fa­ther than he was grow­ing up.

“He’s al­ways let his ac­tions speak for him. He just sits there and takes care of his daugh­ter and does what he can,” Cains said. “Be­ing away from her is very dif­fi­cult. He wants to spend as much time as he can. I know he Face­times, he does what he can, he comes home as much as he can. He over­stretches him­self as much as he can to be the best stu­dent, best player and best fa­ther that he can be.”

Lane said he had his best aca­demic se­mes­ter, mak­ing the dean’s list, right af­ter Kylie was born. He also showed some po­ten­tial af­ter Ed­sall was fired, catch­ing three passes for 63 yards in a 31-24 loss at Wis­con­sin on Nov. 7, and four passes for 63 yards in a sea­son-end­ing 46-41 win over Rut­gers.

“For me, if the ball comes your way, make a play, show them you can play, so you can earn more play­ing time,” Lane said.

Lane has done that un­der Durkin and Bell.

Start­ing the sea­son opener against Howard, Lane caught five passes for 73 yards, both ca­reer highs. But af­ter pulling down back-to-back 25-yard re­cep­tions from backup quar­ter­back Tyrrell Pi­grome in the third quar­ter, Lane was tack­led hard on each.

“Af­ter the first one, I kind of felt a lit­tle funny,” Lane said. “With our of­fense be­ing up-tempo, I kind of put it to the side. I kept play­ing. I thought it was one of those ‘I’ve got a headache, it’ll go away’ sit­u­a­tions. But then when I got hit the sec­ond time, I could tell some­thing’s off.”

Lane sat out the sec­ond game against Florida In­ter­na­tional af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with a con­cus­sion. He re­turned the fol­low­ing week to catch three passes against Cen­tral Florida.

The Terps will play again at home this week­end, mean­ing Kylie will be watch­ing.

“She ac­tu­ally made it through the game, which was nice,” Lane said about his daugh­ter in the sea­son opener. “We tried it last year and she made it through the first quar­ter. She’s talk­ing a lit­tle bit more now. She un­der­stands foot­ball. She’ll scream, ‘Go, Daddy,’ stuff like that. Just hear­ing about that was kind of like spe­cial.”

Along with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of fa­ther­hood, Lane has be­come a leader in the locker room, on the prac­tice field and in the re­ceivers’ room for meet­ings.

“Never says ‘boo,’ never com­plains. He’s ... al­ways look­ing to do what­ever it takes to make the team bet­ter,” Bell said Wednes­day. “You know he’s go­ing to play fast, you know he’s go­ing to block, you know he’s go­ing to play with­out the ball and be self­less.”

Said Lane: “I’m just try­ing to take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity I get. I know the four years went by fast, even with me not play­ing that much. I know I’m lim­ited to the games I have left in my ca­reer. Why not go out there and try to make the best of ev­ery one?”

COUR­TESY OF DE­AN­DRE LANE

COUR­TESY OF DE­AN­DRE LANE

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