Marlin Lane has assumed the role as the elder statesman in the running back meeting room after the departure of senior Rajion Neal. Lane appears primed to begin the season as the starter and has said that his goal is to average over 6.0 yards per carry in 2014. He had 101 carries for 534 yards and four touchdowns in 2013 as a junior.
But now the senior running back is focused on more than himself as he and his team gear towards the start of the 2014 season. He is also focused on being one of the leaders of this team and helping all of the young guys learn as much as they can – something that he felt good about after the team’s first practice on Friday, but knows still has room for improvement.
“We had a lot of freshmen and newcomers in, so we tried to go out there, as veterans, and help them through the plays,” Lane said.
“I think we met their (coaches) expectations. I think we just have to step it up a little bit more. We just have to take it one play at a time and try to execute that one play because you never know when you’re going to get the next rep at it.”
Lane came in as a freshman and earned some reps in 2011, and he has seen his role on the team increase every season since. He feels that these past experiences have helped prepare him to lead this team as a senior and have left him in a more familiar role than some might expect
“Playing my freshman and sophomore year, and then as a junior, it made me feel like a senior because me and (Rajion Neal) were the oldest guys in the room and we had the most experience. So I feel like I’m in the same role, I just have to step it up more.
“When I’m out there, I’m representing my running back group and my coach, my head coach and my team. So when I’m out there I just want to give it everything that I’ve got.”
Lane, who hails from Daytona Beach, Florida, said that he and his teammates at running back are prepared to contribute more than just touches in 2014. He feels like he and his squad can help open up things for the entire offense.
“We can contribute in a lot of stuff: pass protection, running the ball and just helping a lot in the run game to open it up for the wide receivers.”
Last year at this time, Lane was making his way back from a spring suspension that left many questioning whether or not he would ever suit up for the Vols again. In fact, there were more than a few people who privately said that they doubted he would ever play again for Tennessee. But he said it was that time away from the team that showed him how much it all meant to him and allowed him to rededicate himself to his coaches, his teammates and the program.
“I learned from all the mistakes. I just did a big turnaround. I told myself that if I don’t have everything accomplished that I need to today, I won’t be successful for tomorrow. “
As the season nears, Marlin Lane is in the best position he’s been in since he arrived at Tennessee. He is physical, mentally and emotionally mature enough to lead this team on and off the field and is comfortable in that role. Marlin’s transformation has been so positive that Butch Jones recently called him a “success story” for the rebuilding process of Tennessee Football.
Here’s hoping that all of this success translates to a big season on the field for Marlin Lane – he deserves it.