The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching on next Thursday night, April 22nd, when it debuts in prime-time for the first time ever(which I'm completely and totally against). NFL hopefuls across the country will be sitting at home, anxiously awaiting text messages or phone calls from their agents or NFL teams.
Leading up to the draft fans across the country will have already heard about quarterback Sam Bradford's dazzling spirals, quarterback Jimmy Clausen's near-flawless mechanics, or about the electrifying running back from Clemson, C.J. Spiller.
What story will fans not have heard about? Take Idris Lawrence, defensive back from Ohio University. Sure, Lawrence didn't rack up any awards during his tenure for the Bobcats, nor did he land on any all-conference or All-American lists.
What Lawrence did have was a big heart, you can see that in his ferocious hitting style on the gridiron. A smaller prospect at, 5-8, 176 pounds, Lawrence is an extremely physical corner for somebody his size and was well-known for his outstanding play as a gunner on the Ohio Bobcats special teams' unit. Often the first defender down the field to make a tackle, Lawrence was quick to lay the big hit on opponents over the past four years and made his mark on special teams.
He saved the best performance of his entire college career for the 2009 MAC Championship game against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan. Lawrence was dialed in for the Bobcats, making plays all over the field, shadowing his man and making life more difficult for Central Michigan's legendary quarterback, Dan LeFevour.
Just imagine--you've been dreaming of putting up a performance like this for your entire career--national TV--MAC Championship on the line--and you are "in the zone".
Just as Lawrence began to live out that dream--it was taken away from him though, by a Central Michigan wide receiver. The receiver chop blocked Lawrence in the knee--drilling him with his helmet. Whether the play was a "cheap shot" is open for debate, but it didn't look pretty.
Right before the end of the first half, you could see tears in his eyes as the ESPN cameras showed him on the sidelines of Ford Field. Tears of disappointment that such a great performance had been cut short by an unfortunate play.
The Bobcats ended up losing in the MAC Championship game to Central Michigan, but the individual performance by Lawrence in the first half definitely raised some eyebrows.
That performance was good enough to garner Lawrence some attention from NFL scouts who had never paid attention to him before and some teams in the CFL have shown interest in him as well.
I had the chance to catch up with Lawrence over the phone and below is the Q and A he did with me. Many thanks to him for taking the time to answer my questions!
Q: If you could invite five people to a party, dead or alive who do you choose and why?
A: George Washington because he was our first president of the United States, I just want to hear his thoughts of having such a powerful position and having so many people look up to him. How did he handle that position of his life. For the people to nominate him as a first president, he had to have had such an impact on the people around him, inside and outside the country. I just know I would want to meet such a powerful person.
My mother. My mother is very special, she’s been there with me my whole life. If I was going to a special dinner I would need her there.
Spud Webb—because of the adversity he faced. He was a little boy amongst men. I would have to bring him with me.
My great grandfather—he was in Vietnam, I didn’t get to meet him in person.
My great grandmother—she lived to be 105 years old. She’s had my grandmother. My grandmother. She started the bloodlines of the family essentially.
Q: Who is your favorite football player of all-time?
A: I like Charles Woodson man. I wanted to say someone I’ve watched. I watched him in high school, watched tape from him at high school, watched him at Michigan, become All-American, win the Heisman. Me being a corner, I admire his skill level. He’s been my favorite player because I’ve watched him from high school to the pros.
Q: What do you want to be doing with your life once football is over?
A: First of all I want to be healthy. I want to be the best positive role model for my kids. I just want to be a valuable resource for all my family. Whether that be an office building job, teacher, whatever that profession may be, whatever it is, that’s my main goal to be successful.
Q: What do you think made you play at such a high level in the first half of the MAC Championship game against Central Michigan?
A: That’s very easy to answer to that. We’re on quarters here at Ohio University. We were done with school, the Wednesday before the week started for preparation for Central Michigan. Basically I had the whole eight days to watch film, no homework, no classes. It was just straight football. I was more prepared for that offense. The Thursday before we left I knew I was fully prepared to have a great game because of my preparation that whole week. I never prepared like that in my whole life.
Q: Did you think the block that messed up your knee(chop block) was a cheap shot?
A: I don’t want to say that people are cheap. I hope that it wasn’t a cheap shot. I hope he was just playing his assignment out—playing to the whistle. It was away from the play, the guy already got tackled. I just wasn’t paying attention to him. I’m not going to say it was cheap because you keep playing to the whistle.
Q: Have you heard anything from any NFL scouts from your performance in the MAC Championship game?
A: I felt like my play propelled me to a level that I was in search of for a long time in my career—to get noticed by people. We’ve had numerous corners come through Ohio University and get noticed by NFL scouts. We’ve put a little asterisk by DBU—we want Ohio University to be known by defensive backs. Bop White, Dion Byrum, Mark Parson, there’s a great tradition of defensive backs here at Ohio University, and I just want to continue that tradition.
Q: What was it like taking Brookhaven(Columbus, OH) to the state championship in high school?
A: It was a pleasant experience—we were the first City League team in Columbus to win a state championship in Ohio. It wasn’t easy, it was a lot of hard of work. It was a good feeling. I was able to win a championship at each level. Pee Wee level and high school.
Q: What’s one place you must travel to before you die?
A: I want to go to Egypt—I’m named after an Egyptian king who led his people to the promised land. My mom studied abroad in Egypt and got it from there. I just wanted to go there and study the history behind my name and see why I’m named Idris.
Q: Do you ever wish you played another Division 1 sport, like basketball?
A: All the time, I wish I ran track. I wish I played basketball. I always wanted to play basketball, that was my favorite sport.
Q: What made you decide to play football growing up?
A: Actually it’s an interesting story. My first year of pee wee football I played quarterback. After six practices in pads I quit. I came home and told my momma, “I don’t wanna do this anymore.” I don’t like this contact. My mom was going to make me take all my pads off in front of the whole team. So six o’clock the next day I took off all my pads, was crying, it was bad. So I think me quitting helped me discover my love for football.
So while guys like Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are guaranteed millions of dollars on NFL draft weekend next weekend, just keep in mind the story of Ohio DB Idris Lawrence--who's hoping to be guaranteed just one thing--an opportunity to continue chasing a dream.
That's it from me folks, look for more football articles and sports articles from me sometime in the future!