Wednesday, July 20, 1988

Lanese in Comeback

Ex-Buckeye close to Browns’ pact

July 20, 1988

By Tony Grossi

Remember Mike Lanese, the fine wide receiver from Ohio State who accepted a Rhodes Scholarship two year ago rather than heading into the National Football League?

Lanese is back from his two-year study program at Oxford University in England and wants to resume his football career.

He is close to signing a free-agent contract with the Browns. Neil Cornrich, Lanese’s attorney, said the Houston Oilers are also being considered.

Lanese, of Mayfield Village, worked out briefly at the Browns’ regular-season practice facility at Baldwin-Wallace Collage Monday. He caught passes thrown by quarterback coach Marc Trestman as coach Marty Schottenheimer and receivers coach Richard Mann looked on.

“We have an interest in him,” Schottenheimer said yesterday.

“From what I could see, he ran pretty good and seemed like he’s got good hands,” Mann said. “He’s a guy I understand was productive in college. And we know he’s intelligent.”

Lanese said the Browns’ coaches clocked him in 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played football in two years.

“I could be in better condition,” Lanese, 24, said yesterday. “But I am healthy and I am fresh. It never took me long to get into playing condition. On the other hand, I have to reacquire my skills. Of course, I’ll have to learn the offense.”

That shouldn’t be much of a problem for him. A two-time Academic All-America at Ohio State, Lanese was one of 32 college seniors nationally to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships in 1985. He was the first OSU student in 54 years so honored.

At Oxford, Lanese’s studies centered on economics and politics.

“When I accepted the scholarship,” he said, “some people remarked they were disappointed I didn’t stay with football and come out in the draft. I’m glad I didn’t. It was an experience I couldn’t possibly pass up. It was outstanding.

“But one of my character flaws is I happen to like playing football. I suffered for two years not playing. Every once in a while, I had the urge to be hit.”

Lanese, a 6-0, 185-pounder, was known as a sure-handed possession receiver at OSU. He is ninth on the school’s all-time list with 72 receptions for 1,170 yards and six touchdowns. He played in the shadow of OSU record-holder Cris Carter, now with the Philadelphia Eagles.

If Lanese is signed by the Browns, he will join a crowd at wide receiver. Besides the six returning veterans from last year’s team, the Browns have seven free-agent receivers under contract and one draft choice.

The Browns’ rookies, free agents, quarterbacks and selected veterans report to training camp tomorrow at Lakeland Community College. Sunday is the first day of practice.

“Realistically, I have to admit it’s a longshot,” Lanese said. “But I wouldn’t invest the effort into it if I didn’t think I had a chance.”

Lanese said he will pursue a career in law when his playing days are over.

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