Dundee-Crown RB Cody Lane working on return

Cody Lane will require more time to regain his speed, probably another three months of hard training.

But the Dundee-Crown senior running back is right on track with everything else in his football career, which was turned upside-down last June 7 at a camp at Northern Illinois University. In a one-on-one drill with a linebacker, Lane, a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection as a junior, tried to spin and get away.

Lane spun, but his left foot stayed put. He felt a pop in his left knee that signaled a torn ACL. Lane watched with mixed emotions – thrilled for his teammates, while agonized that he wasn’t able to help – as D-C went 6-4 and played in the postseason for the first time since 1994.

“It was hard at first,” said Lane, who rushed for 1,181 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. “But to see them smile and everything. They enjoyed it and I was there to support them.”

Now, Lane is ready to get back to football. He was cleared for all activities on Dec. 20 and will spend the next month making college visits, mainly to NCAA Division III schools in Illinois and Iowa. He is looking at Aurora, Benedictine, Dubuque, Elmhurst, North Central and Wheaton.

Lane, who is 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, was able to lift weights with his upper body through the summer and fall months while rehabilitating his leg. It helped him maintain sanity.

“Every time I started thinking about my knee, I lifted upper body to get it out of my mind,” he said.

Lane now bench presses 300 pounds for four repetitions, which is significantly better than a year ago. He also deadlifted this week for the first time since the injury and had a personal best. He is working on speed and agility at Going Vertical in Huntley with trainers Mark Sommerville and Luke Rispoli.

“I’m pretty much back on track,” Lane said. “Speedwise, I’m maybe 70 percent. It will probably take two or three more months to get back or faster than where I was at.”

Squatting is one lift that Lane has not done with heavy weights yet, but that will come in ensuing weeks.

D-C managed to have its best season in 19 years despite missing its star player, a back who averaged 7.8 yards a game in 2012 and was fourth in the area, without the benefit of any postseason games.

“It was hard. We were really excited about Cody coming back,” Chargers coach Vito Andriola said. “The first week after it happened, the kids acted like the season was over. It took us back. We talked to the kids and him just being around was a good thing. That was really tough.”

Even without Lane, Andriola thought the Chargers had the best backfield he’s ever coached. Running backs Caleb and Cordero Parson and T.J. Moss played well and D-C went 6-3 in the regular season. Lane provided another set of eyes for the coaching staff and offered help to the backs. When defensive back Malik Dunner was used more on offense late in the season, Lane was there to help him with where he needed to be.

“It was tough on [Lane],” Andriola said. “I told him it would be the hardest thing he’s ever done. He came around more and more and it got a little bit better [for him].”

Lane feels he had sufficient video from his junior season to show college coaches what he can do.

“I don’t think it affected my recruiting at all,” Lane said. “It would have helped to play, but personally I don’t think it affected any aspect at all. There are a lot of D-III schools in mind and a lot said they want me and I’m the best running back they’ve seen. That’s good to hear.”

Andriola thinks missing the season hurt Lane’s prospects, but sees one plus with not being on the field this season.

“When colleges came, we always talked about what he did as a junior,” Andriola said. “He’s a great kid, that’s one thing people should understand. It was tough for him to watch. Whoever gets him is going to get a hungry kid.”