Florida International U

A former NFL star gives some tips on how to get recruited to the FIU defensive line

Butch says quarterbacks have made light years of improvement.

FIU head coach Butch says quarterbacks have made light years of improvement after FIU's spring scrimmage at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Friday, April 12, 2019.
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FIU head coach Butch says quarterbacks have made light years of improvement after FIU's spring scrimmage at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Friday, April 12, 2019.

It seems only natural that the FIU Panthers football team has replaced Kenny Holmes with Kenard Lang as defensive line coach.

Both were star defensive ends with the Miami Hurricanes, both were NFL first-round picks, and both played high school football in Florida — Holmes, 45, at Vero Beach; and Lang, 44, at Orlando Evans.

“It’s bittersweet,” Lang said about replacing Holmes. “Kenny is back home taking care of his local businesses. He’s an entrepreneur. He was my roommate in college and still one of my best friends.”

Lang played a decade in the NFL, picking up 50 sacks and forcing 15 fumbles in 153 games. He played five years for the Washington Redskins, four with the Cleveland Browns and one for the Denver Broncos before retiring following the 2006 season.

He then started coaching Orlando-area high school teams in 2008 and was forced to quit midway through the 2016 season because of back surgery.

That surgery was successful.

“I feel like a spring chicken,” said Lang, who this fall will coach his first collegiate season after spending the past two years in a more behind-the-scenes role with FIU. “I’m running and lifting weights every day.”

The players, it seems, feel his energy.

“It’s very different this spring from last year,” FIU junior defensive end Noah Curtis said before Friday’s conclusion of spring practice.

“This spring is more competitive. There’s more sense of urgency. Last year, we were a little more laid-back. [Lang] is pushing us every day to the our fullest capabiltieis. We are running to the ball and working as a team.”

Here are five questions and answers with Lang:

1: What are you looking for in a defensive lineman in recruiting?

“Get-off, temperament, pursuit, use of your hands and ‘FBI’, which means football IQ.

“If you have those ingredients, you have a chance to be successful. But it all starts with your will. If you don’t have the will to be great, you are going to have a hard time.”

2: How do you find players with will?

“Watch them play — see if they fight. If the chips are down, does he keep fighting or does he fold his tent? Does he play hard consistently no matter the score?”

3: Can FIU create the swagger you had with the Hurricanes?

“A lot of people confuse ‘swag’ with what you wear and how you look, but it’s a mentality.

“I tell kids, ‘Practice like you never won, but perform like you never lost.’

“You have to have that mindset that whoever steps in my way — it could be a kid at an elementary school or somebody from the Dallas Cowboys — I’m going to beat your butt the same way with the same preparation.”

4: This is the first time you’ve been a college recruiter. Do you like the experience?

“I enjoy it. It’s cool to have a chance to pick the groceries that you cook. I’m going to be recruiting a lot in Central Florida, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach ...”

5: What is your coaching style?

“I don’t believe in short-cuts. I’m going to push you. I’m going to try to get every ounce of potential out of you.

“I’m a big believer that your practice habits carry over to your life habits. Overall, my expectation for you is probably higher than what you think of yourself.”

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