Lane is excited for the opportunity at Texas Tech
Some remember Jaylon Lane as the high three-star corner prospect out of Nacogdoches high school in the 2015 class - the one with 35-plus scholarship offers, the Rivals Camp MVP and participant at The Opening.
Unfortunately, Lane's story did not end with him leaving high school and joining the D1 program of his choice. An incident at his high school in the Fall of 2014 led to Lane's arrest and many of the programs involved stopped recruiting the standout prospect.
The reality was that Lane, a recruit who had received four D1 offers in one day on multiple occasions during the year, would now have to take another route to achieve his dream of playing D1 football.
"I didn't know anything about the junior college route," Lane said. "Jones Community College in Mississippi were the first coaches to reach out and show interest in me. It was probably around mid-February or March of 2015, the coaches reached out and wanted to give me a chance.
"I ended up going there and making it happen my first year, but it got to be too much traveling from Mississippi back to Texas when seeing family or taking care of my legal situation. I couldn't say that I had much of a plan at the time, just knew that I needed to somehow get closer to home with my situation.
"For me personally, the Mississippi and Kansas junior college competition is really good and some of the best in the nation. I always felt like the talent in the Kansas league is a little better, more D1 talent to go against and several very good teams."
Lane decided to leave Jones C.C. and ended up finding an opportunity with Independence C.C. in Kansas.
"I ended up with Independence C.C. in May of 2016 and that spring a few college programs started to notice me in practices," Lane said. "I earned a 3.4 GPA that first semester and showed a lot of people that I was serious. All of the progress helped some coaches begin to show more interest. Arkansas State offered me after watching practices, and even that offer was a big deal because of where I had come from the past couple of years."
Later that summer, Lane earned an offer from the UTSA coaches and decided to make his commitment to the Road Runners at the time.
"I almost committed to UTSA after leaving Jones C.C. and before deciding on transferring to Independence C.C., but I had only played in six games and wanted to see what happened with another year of junior college ball," Lane said. "Eventually, I got settled in at Independence and got through the first semester, then the UTSA coaches continued to recruit me.
"At the time, I just didn't think any other schools would be recruiting me due to my situation, to be honest. I starting doing well during the season and got more exposure through the fall. The more I thought about only having two more years of eligibility at the college level, I decided that a D1 scholarship was still my goal and so I reopened my recruitment."
The offers from D1 programs did eventually arrive, and Lane verbally committed to Oregon State during an official visit in late November.
"Even with Oregon State, I liked the coaching staff and felt they could help get me to the next level," Lane said. "Like I said, my focus was on finding the best situation for me and with the mindset of only having two years left to make my mark. It really was the best decision for me that day, that weekend.
"I was happy with my commitment to Oregon State, and it wasn't an easy decision to change things, but the opportunity with Texas Tech came in and there was so much about the opportunity at Tech that made more sense for me."
Only a week and a half after his commitment to Oregon State, Lane announced a new offer from the Red Raiders.
"I had been in touch with Coach (David) Gibbs and Coach (Zac) Spavital since I was at Jones C.C. out of high school," Lane said. "They did come in late, but they just wanted to clear everything with the Athletic Director and make sure everything was set with Texas Tech. Like I said, it was the best decision for me, especially with what we have on offense and the opportunity to play for Coach Gibbs.
"I have always had love for Coach Gibbs. You remember back in high school, I attended the Rivals Camp in Houston and won the MVP award? Coach Gibbs actually messaged me that day right after the camp ended, I remember because we were still driving on highway 59 in Houston. He was the DC at Houston back then, and he offered me that day."
Gibbs was pretty close to landing Lane at Houston back in 2015, but what happened next would actually end up helping the Red Raiders a few years later.
"I remember riding in the car with my family and talking with them about how much family we had in Houston, how it sounded like a great opportunity and I really almost committed to Coach Gibbs that week," Lane said. "I actually tried to commit, but he told me to wait because I had a ton of talent and a lot of other schools were going to offer. He was right and that really meant a lot to me at the time, but now I realize that is just Coach Gibbs and his personality.
"He truly believed in me as a player and still did after everything that happened over the years. Coach Gibbs is a man of his word and he really stuck to it. He was one of the only coaches to recruit me in high school that actually kept in touch with me during my junior college days. I'm ready to ball for him, I can tell you that right now. I'm going to give Coach Gibbs my all, and it's going to be one hell of a ride."
A few days after receiving the offer from Texas Tech, Lane was in Lubbock for an official visit.
"Everyone knows about the official visits coming out of high school," Lane said. "They show you the gear, the stadium, the facilities and all of those types of things. Now that I'm older and understand the importance of the film room, it was all about watching film and hanging out with the coaches for me.
"I really liked the scheme they run at Tech and it feels like a good fit for me. The visit was not flashy, there was no red carpet or anything like that. The coaches just kept it real with me and made me feel at home that weekend. In my heart, it really felt like the best place for me. I didn't feel that way in high school, but my mind changed a lot after taking my official visit. I didn't even tell the coaches when I left, but I already knew that Texas Tech was my choice."
The relationship with Coach Gibbs and the Texas Tech coaches was a big factor for Lane, but being on the visit with other standout junior college prospects ended up sealing the deal.
"I knew Tony (Jones) and Octavious (Morgan) from Butler C.C. from playing against both of them," Lane said. "They are both really good players, Tony can really fly off of the edge and Octavious is one of the best corners in the entire conference. I'm actually living with Tony and Octavious once we get onto campus, we aren't sure of the fourth roommate, but we all requested that from the coaches right away.
"I already knew Texas Tech needed help in the secondary, and coming in from junior college and looking for playing time, that's a big deal. I knew me and Octavious coming in could be trouble, because we can really help to improve this defense. Coach Gibbs told me that I'm his outside guy, and he wants to match me against the best guy and the top receiver on the other team. I like to move around, play left or right and some safety or nickel too. It gives me more opportunity and more tape to be evaluated for the next level."
After the roller coaster ride of these past couple of years, it seems like the simple things about playing at Texas Tech and in the Big12 conference excite Lane the most.
"Another reason I'm so excited about this opportunity with Texas Tech is that I will be playing with or against a lot of other guys that I grew up with," Lane said. "There are several guys I have played with and against from little league and throughout high school. There is a big group of guys already at Tech from East Texas and several others throughout the conference at Baylor, Texas and other programs.
"Coming from where I have and dealing with my situation, it's just exciting to know that I can share the field with them and compete again. I cannot wait to get back on the field and get started at Texas Tech next month."
Lane announced his decision to sign with Texas Tech on Dec. 14th and a handful of coaches messaged me about the addition for the Red Raiders that day.
"Jaylon Lane is a beast, he is going to start right away"
Regardless of what happened out of high school, Lane never gave up on his dream of playing D1 football and certainly never stopped working on his craft as a defensive back. A lot of coaches and players believe he is still the corner who received 35-plus offers and several other accolades out of Nacogdoches in 2015.
But what does Lane think of the hype?
"If people say that now, then those are the people that I respect," Lane said. "When coaches are comparing me to an NFL player and saying those things about me, it just gives me more confidence. It makes me excited to have people supporting me and making them happy to know that I have gotten back here. I'm not done though, I'm not giving up and I'm ready to get on the field next season."
Rated a 5.5 three-star prospect, the 6-foot-2, 183-pound corner finished with 43 total tackles, three tackles for loss, six pass breakups, three fumble recoveries and five interceptions this season.
Lane will have two years to play two years of eligibility at the next level. He chose Texas Tech over offers from Oregon State, UCLA, Louisiana Tech and others.