For months now, Anthony Lanier II has been staring a lot. He knows it, too. And he has tried to stop. Oh, man, has he tried. But he can’t. At the Washington Redskins’ team complex, something invariably catches his eye. Even late into his first NFL season, the defensive end is still blown away by the weight room. All of that state-of-the-art equipment to use whenever he pleases. Shoot. Nothing’s better to help him stay on the grind. The food at Redskins Park is also legit. A brother can maintain his playing weight on that dope spread. The locker room, though, gets Lanier the most. Often, he catches himself gazing at the nameplates above the dressing stalls. His is there, too. His. He shares his work space with millionaires. Maybe he’ll never get over that.
“There was a time when I never thought I would be here. I could have been working a regular nine-to-five [job],” Lanier said. “All of a sudden, I’m here?”
The Redskins will tell you Lanier is where he belongs.
The undrafted rookie free agent from Alabama A&M, one of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), was once considered a long shot to make the roster. Of course, that proves again there’s no telling how far a nonstop motor and gobs of raw talent will take you. Lanier has gotten some run recently in the defensive-line rotation and made every moment count. A fumble recovery here, an eye-opening quarterback pressure there. It all adds up. Talk to Lanier’s teammates on Washington’s defense, and you’ll learn he’s the only one who’s surprised. The young fella needs to be on the field. Ballers know ballers.
“He’s making an impact,” Redskins veteran end Ricky Jean Francois said.
Longtime tackle/end Cullen Jenkins went further: “Just watching the natural talent he has, as long as he keeps coming along, he can be a premier player in this league. Seriously.”
Team decision-makers – especially senior personnel executive Doug Williams, the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback who brought in his fellow HBCU alum – have every right to be pumped about Lanier’s future. “Whenever I see him, I always make sure to tell him he hasn’t made it yet,” Williams said. “He still has a lot to learn about how to play. He still isn’t fully developed as far as what playing football in the NFL is all about.
“But what he already has is uncanny talent. And that talent can be refined. And when you see his athleticism, some of the things he can do at his size, you think to yourself, ‘He could become a pretty good defensive lineman.’ There’s something to work with there.”
FULL STORY, courtesy of The Undefeated