SAN DIEGO – Rookie linebacker
The self-described jock wandered the halls of Tucker High School in Tucker, Ga., one of the most coveted prep athletes in the state.
Some of college football’s biggest programs recruited him, but he picked the hometown Georgia Bulldogs over a host of SEC schools, USC, Nebraska and Florida State.
Lang seemed destined to catch the attention of NFL scouts. But he never made it to Athens, Ga. His standardized academic test scores weren’t high enough to qualify him out of high school.
Six years later, he must overcome long odds to earn his keep as an undrafted free agent if he wants to emerge as a headliner for the Chargers.
“In my circumstance, nothing was ever given to me,” Lang said. “Always work hard at what you do and eventually you’ll come out on top.”
He believes the block of time that saw him drift off the national radar and forced him to learn resolve has prepared him well.
He launched his college career at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., weaving into Division I football at Troy University as a defensive end.
Following Pro Bowl alumni DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora, Lang stormed to 18 sacks as a junior and senior.
But that stretch followed a torn ACL in 2007 that limited him to three games.
“You’ve got to go through (tough times) to really make you appreciate what you have,” Lang said. “I feel like early in my career, I’ve been through a lot, from battling injuries to getting eligible and all that. So when I finally got the chance to have it all in line, everything’s been going (well) ever since.”
Lang admits with a giddy grin that he loves getting after the quarterback, but he’s willing to prepare to handle new responsibilities as a linebacker or on special teams. Pre-draft analysts viewed him as an ideal candidate to transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, because at 6-foot-3, 266 pounds, his strength becomes a plus at that position.
“My mindset is just to come in here and work hard (and) just show these coaches what I can do and how I can help this team out in any dimension,” Lang said.
“I can work on being more technically sound. It’s a new position for me, but I look up to the older guys that are here and follow their footsteps on how to carry myself out there.”