BOZICH | WKU's Forrest Lamp on PB&J route to WKU's first NFL first-rounder
In 2012 Forrest Lamp was a 2-star prospect in Florida who couldn't draw a scholarship offer from most Power 5 schools. On Thursday, Lamp is likely to be WKU's first first-round NFL pick.
LOUISVILLE -- There are 65 schools that compete as Power Five college football programs. One offered Forrest Lamp a scholarship -- and that was Iowa State, one of the least powerful Power Five programs on any given Saturday.
Prime prospects were tucked across Lamp's team at Venice High School, outside Sarasota on Florida's Gulf Coast. Schools across America feast on Florida talent, looking for guys who will develop into first-round NFL Draft picks.
Those are supposed to be the four- and five-star guys, not the two-star guys like Lamp.
"A lot of guys have talent, but not everybody bites into the process of working hard," said John Peacock, Lamp's coach at Venice High. "Forrest bit."
Miami scouted Venice and signed Danny Dillard, the team's running back. Florida scouted Venice and signed Omari Phillips, a massive defensive lineman. Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, Big Ten schools, everybody cycled through Venice, a formidable Class 7A program.
Forrest Lamp was put on hold. He was a classic, "We'll get back to you," guy.
Coaches were intrigued by his wide, 6-foot-4 frame. They were concerned that Lamp carried only 220 pounds on that frame.
His FBS offers came from Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, Navy, New Mexico, Ohio, Temple, Iowa State -- and Western Kentucky.
"Forrest visited Miami," Peacock said. "I told their coaches they needed to take him."
Miami passed. Didn't everybody?
Western Kentucky did not. The Hilltoppers had ample room for a two-star prospect who was ranked behind nine guys in WKU's 2012 recruiting class.
"Coach (Raymond) Woodie and coach (Willie) Taggart saw what I saw," Peacock said.
"A very athletic kid with great footwork and tremendous drive to succeed. You had to be able to project what Forrest could become. That he just needed to get bigger and stronger. Western did its homework."
Forrest Lamp did the grunt-work.
His reward will come Thursday night in Philadelphia during the 2017 NFL Draft. Lamp is ranked the Number One offensive guard prospect, an almost certain first-round selection who is rated as high as the 8th best overall prospect by at least one analyst.
In fact, WKU football media relations director Kyle Neaves compiled the results of 15 mock drafts -- and all 15 have Lamp projected in the first round from picks 9 through 31. Lamp's average selection in the 15 mock drafts is No. 22 to Miami.
From 2-star recruit to first-round draft pick, the first first-round pick in WKU history?
From 220 pounds as a high school junior to 260-plus as a high school senior to a guy who weighed 309 at the NFL Draft combine last winter.
"We laugh about it all the time," Peacock said. "I tease him and say, 'Do you realize that you're going to be a millionaire?'
"It doesn't faze him at all. He just says, 'Coach, I still have a lot of work to do.' That tells you why he's made it to this point."
Check the recruiting video again -- and then check the scales. Lamp actually weighed 200 as a high school sophomore.
"Some coaches were concerned that Forrest simply wasn't big enough," Peacock said.
Forrest Lamp wanted to be big enough. This is the plan that Lamp and Peacock crafted: No more basketball. Considerably more food.
After starting at center for the Venice basketball team as a junior, Lamp gave up rebounding and dribbling to park in the weight room.
Don't tell the NFL nutritionists but this is the other way Lamp added the necessary bulk: Peacock advised him to eat four-to-six extra peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day.
"I told him to eat as many of those as he could on top of what he already was eating," Peacock said.
Western Kentucky took it from there. Lamp sat out as a redshirt during his only season with Taggart. As a redshirt freshman, he started every game for Bobby Petrino in 2013 moving from right guard to left tackle, the position entrusted to protect the quarterback from blind side hits.
In three seasons with former WKU coach Jeff Brohm, Lamp did everything but wear the Big Red mascot uniform. He started every game as a sophomore and junior, earning all-Conference USA recognition in 2015 as the Hilltoppers beat Vanderbilt and won the league title.
The only thing that slowed him last season was an ankle injury that sidelined Lamp for two games. Nobody got past him to sack WKU quarterback Mike White all season.
There's plenty. Lamp scored a touchdown in WKU's bowl win. He made multiple all-America teams. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and confirmed his status as a first-round draft selection. And Lamp earned his degree.
His future academic career will have to wait. On Thursday night NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should call his name. No more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Forrest Lamp. It's time for filet.
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