by MOSES LEOS III
Hays High’s junior offensive lineman Connor Lanfear was built to play football. It does not take a trained eye to know this.
Standing at 6-feet-5-inches tall, with a lean build, he fits the iconic football player mold.
While he fits the size prerequisites for the game, it is the intensity and passion to play that matter most, something Lanfear is quick to acknowledge without any hesitation.
“I love the game of football and everything about it,” Lanfear said. “The contact, the physical aspects of the game, I enjoy every bit of it.”
Such a positive mentality was enough for the University of Texas football coaching staff, who verbally offered Lanfear on June 9 the chance to play for the Longhorns on a full scholarship.
The groundbreaking offer was too much for Lanfear to pass up.
“It has been a dream of mine to play Division I football,” Lanfear said. “I am honored and blessed to be given this opportunity from [Head Coach Mack] Brown and [Assistant Coach Stacy] Searels.”
Lanfear, who hails from an athletic family background, has connections to the university. His mother, Karen, attended the University of Texas when she was younger.
While his family is also divided in the ever competitive Texas/Texas A&M rivalry, he has been given much support regardless.
“My entire family is ecstatic,” Lanfear said. “No matter who they root for, they are all proud and happy for me.”
Texas’ offer to the soon-to-be junior was groundbreaking for two reasons. The first is the age of Lanfear. To be given a full ride scholarship at such a young age is a rarity for high school athletes, a fact Lanfear admits.
“It is rare for a football player to be given such an offer before their junior or senior year,” Lanfear said.
Secondly, Lanfear becomes the first football player from Hays to be offered a scholarship by the University of Texas.
Yet the recruitment of Lanfear has been going on for quite some time. During his sophomore season in 2012, Lanfear’s skill began to stand out to many college football programs. Only a sophomore, Lanfear helped the Rebel offense amass more than 4,000 offensive yards.
His physicality on the field helped draw the attention of the college recruiters – a trait Rebel head football coach Neal La Hue immediately saw when he stepped on campus.
“He is a good athlete. For a big kid, at that age, he has great feet. He has a good disposition for the position,” La Hue said. “He is physical; he is a good football player. He meets measurables Division I [football teams]are looking for. “
The ability for Lanfear to excel both on and off the field also helped sway the Longhorn staff.
“He is what you want [as a student-athlete]; he is polite and he takes care of his business in the classroom,” La Hue said. “When he is on the field, he is a different person. He is a hard working kid, he gets after it and he is highly motivated.”
Lanfear was given his first taste of the Longhorn way of life during Texas’ first ever sophomore day in March. He and his family were given a chance to take a tour of the campus, as well as the football facilities. The tour helped steer the Rebel offensive lineman to a burnt-orange state of mind.
“All of the facilities [at Texas]are phenomenal; they are top notch,” he said. “The weight room was insane. The medical and training facilities were equally impressive. These all helped draw my interest to Texas.”
By the time spring practice rolled around in May, the Longhorn coaching staff began to heavily recruit the young athlete. In order to get a leg up on the competition, Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite sent Searels to view Lanfear during Hays’ spring practice sessions. Afterward, he immediately offered Lanfear a chance to attend the Mack Brown Texas Football Mini-Camp on June 9.
It should be noted that the Lanfear family paid the $45 dollar camp entry fee, per NCAA rules.
It was during the camp that Lanfear made the largest impact on the Longhorn coaches.
During training drills, Lanfear was relayed positive feedback from the Longhorns coaches, ranging from Searels to Brown.
“They told me, ‘we like you, there is no down side to your game,’” Lanfear said. “The coaches all felt I was a good person and a strong football player. It was hard for them to pass on.”
Lanfear was equally impressed with the Longhorn coaching staff. As he worked in camp drills, such as offensive/defensive line pass rush drills, the feedback he received made quite the impression.
“I enjoyed the intensity of the coaching staff,” Lanfear said. “However, they also were positive in their approach. They did not tear you down; rather, they wanted to build you up.”
Lanfear admitted the staff hinted at giving him an offer during the final day of camp. By the end, the Longhorns were ready to verbally make their offer.
Now the real work begins for Lanfear.
“Now that I have received a scholarship offer, I cannot relax. I have to strive to become a better player,” Lanfear said. “I do not want to go to Texas and just sit on the sidelines. I want to be ready to play. I must continue to work hard [at Hays].”
La Hue is confident his junior lineman will continue to perform well on the field.
“He is mature enough to understand that he is still a Hays Rebel for the next two years,” La Hue said. “I think [Lanfear] is a mature kid and he will handle that well.”
He will get the chance, as he will also work on the defensive line this season. In addition, he will also get the chance to further improve against equal competition.
“Next season, I want to compare myself to players my age. It will be more of a challenge,” he said. “I want to see how much I have improved.”