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Tuesday, August 20, 2013
LEXINGTON - When the Big South announced its 2013 preseason all-conference football team July 25 in Charlotte, N.C., VMI quarterback Eric Kordenbrock was forced into making a quick call.
Not of an opposing defense, have you. Instead, Kordenbrock scurried for his cellphone and dialed Will Lucas to proudly inform the senior center that he was the Keydets' only representative on the squad.
"I was definitely humbled when Eric called and told me right when it happened," Lucas said. "I was honored, but I was a little offended at the same time because I think we've got three or four guys who snubbed a little bit and should have made the team. I looked at that as a bit of an insult."
That's just more motivation for he and his determined troops this fall, Lucas said.
"We have high expectations," Lucas said. "This is the year we believe we can turn it around and leave these guys behind something to build off."
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Lucas is the linchpin on an offensive line that must keep Kordenbrock upright if the Keydets are going to make any noise in their final season in the Big South. VMI moves to the Southern Conference next year.
"I think the big key is upfront, the offensive line," Lucas said. "Everybody has some playing experience coming back and that's something we did not have last year. I think if we get our stuff straight up front, I think we'll be hard to stop. If we give Eric time and we give [tailbacks] Derrick [Ziglar] and Jabari [Turner] some holes, I think we can make a lot of things happen."
Certainly, Lucas has done all he could for a program that has gone 7-26 in his three seasons on post. The Hartsville, S.C., native came to Lexington as a 225-pound tight end, a position he played his first two years under coach Sparky Woods.
"I played about 20, 30 plays a game my first two years, but now in the offensive line playing 70 plays is different," Lucas said. "I had to put on about 40 pounds. It was a lot of hard work to put the weight on right, and that was my big thing. I was always afraid to be kind of fat. But to me it was whatever I could do to help the team and I was more than happy to do that."
Lucas, an Applied Mathematics major, didn't waste any time deciphering the deal, Kordenbrock said.
"I think he's definitely an all-conference player," Kordenbrock said. "Lucas has always been the hardest working guy on our team. It's nice to have one of our great players being my center because we're on the same page making sure that the front is going the right way."
When asked if he missed getting his hands on the ball, the former tight end supplied a quick, coy answer.
"Hey, I get my hands on the ball every play now," said Lucas, breaking into a huge grin.
Woods laughed when told the story.
"That's Will for you," Woods said. "You can't go with a long face around him a long time."
According to VMI's media guide, the Keydets have 16 freshman in camp. Outside of highly regarded place-kicker Dillon Christopher, who's being counted on to contribute immediately, the majority will likely be redshirted this fall.
"We're not interested in redshirting freshmen, but we're not interested in wasting eligibility for the kid," Woods said. "It's almost gotten now where the circumstances redshirt them or they redshirt themselves. If you don't make this team in terms of being in the two-deep, then you just get redshirted. That doesn't mean you're not going to be a good player.
"We won't be able to win without the help of this freshman class. I don't think that's untrue with most schools right now, however, we don't have to have them. It's not the freshman class that's going to determine whether we win or lose."
King likely to sit
James King, a 2012 first-team All-Timesland selection as a defensive lineman at Pulaski County, figures to redshirt this season, Woods said.
King, who is listed at 6-4, 230 pounds, needs to add some size to handle the rigors of playing in the trenches.
"It would be great for [King] if we can. Three years ago, James King would play in our first game," said Woods, noting the program's increasing depth.
When posed the question about candidates who may fit that category this fall, Woods quickly rattled off the names of two players - sophomore free safety Alex James and redshirt freshman running back Bradley Lipscomb.
James is currently listed No. 1 at free safety, while Lipscomb is behind Derrick Ziglar (Martinsville) and Jabari Turner at tailback.
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