Lance Lenoir eyeing a future in the NFL


Jake Thompson

Western’s all-time leader in nearly every receiving will attempt to start an NFL career after graduation.

Mat McClanahan

Western Illinois University’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,796), receptions (273), touchdowns (28) and most 100-yard games (14) is trying to make his dreams come true. Senior Lance Lenoir is preparing for life as an NFL player.

The soon to be ex-Leatherneck is looking to take his talents to any one of the 32 NFL teams. While the odds are tough, Lenoir is determined to show off his skill set and become one of the 256 players drafted in late April.

“I can do it all,” Lenoir said. “I will block, run good routes, play special teams, just be a utility player until I can work my way up to being a top wide receiver. Anything that any team needs me to do, I can do it.”

Lenoir, who stands at 6-feet tall and weighs 205 pounds, is just under the NFL average for a wide receiver, but that is not going to stop him. At Western Illinois he was typically an outside receiver, but as he plans for his future, he is open, and confident, to play anywhere on the field.

“I can play outside (receiver) or inside (receiver),” Lenoir said. “Wherever you put me at, I am going to do work.”

Sending Lenoir to the NFL, and hopefully the draft, is not a common accomplishment for Western. Since 2000, Western has sent four players to the NFL. To compare, the University of Illinois has sent 19 players to the pros since 2010.

Going to a small school does not intimidate the Missouri Valley Football Conference all-time leading receiver.

“At the end of the day, product speaks for itself,” Lenoir said.

It does not hurt his confidence that arguably the three best receivers in NFL history came from small schools. Jerry Rice, who is typically addressed as the greatest receiver of all time, went to Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, MS.

Another big name who attended a small school is Randy Moss. Moss attended Marshall University, would be perceived as a better player if his off-the-field antics were not as absurd as they were. Terrell Owens also attended a little school in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Owens is known as a prima donna, but nobody could ever deny his elite skillset.

However, Lenoir does not compare himself to any of these all-time greats. In his eyes, he plays most like Dez Bryant and Stefon Diggs. Lenoir likes to play physically and has a mindset of a true competitor, which is where the comparison of Bryant comes from. Comparing him to Diggs is physically more accurate. Diggs and Lenoir stand at the exact same size and nearly the same weight. Diggs is the Minnesota Vikings’ best receiver, and that is what Lenoir hopes to accomplish when he tries to make an NFL roster.

His personal comparison to Diggs may only be the tip of the iceberg. Lenoir and other Vikings rookie, Laquon Treadwell, are best friends. Treadwell, who ultimately attended the University of Mississippi, was ranked as Illinois’ best receiver after his senior year. The two went to the same high school, Crete-Monee, and won an Illinois 6A state championship. 

“(Treadwell) has helped me a lot,” Lenoir said. “I got to watch him go through this process last year and I was able to learn. He continues to help me out; he will call me every day and remind me there are bigger things to come.” 

Now that Lenoir is officially pursuing a career in the NFL, he has been invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is a postseason All-Star game that helps players pursuing the NFL gain experience and shows them what it takes to be an NFL player.

If a team will take a chance on him in April of 2017, they will not regret it. We here at Western Illinois should expect news come late April about one of our own making it to the highest level of football.

Twitter: @MacIsland13