By Parmida Schahhosseini
There’s only a minute left in the half as Floyd Casey’s sea of black roars waiting for Oklahoma to snap the ball. Seconds later, the ball is in senior linebacker Eddie Lackey’s hands as he comes away with the interception sending the crowd into a frenzy. Forty-seven seconds later, the Baylor offense makes the Sooners pay.
Baylor’s defense has forced 60 turnovers in the last 25 games. Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, and while Lackey’s stats speak volumes, it’s the intangibles that make the difference. Lackey’s leadership has been on display this season as his intensity has fueled the defense to play to its highest potential.
“He brings a lot of intensity,” senior nickel back Sam Holl said. “He’s one of those guys when you get out there, you feed off his energy. He’s a fast guy, really physical and we try to keep up with his pace when we play with him.
As the first Bear to win Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, players are beginning to take notice. Lackey is a versatile player, allowing him to make an impact in every defensive category. This season, Lackey has 60 tackles, 8.5 of which went for a 31-yard loss. In addition, he has three sacks to his credit. With his dominant play, even offensive players can’t help but take notice.
“Eddie is a fun player to watch and he’s very instinctive,” junior quarterback Bryce Petty said. “Eddie Lackey brings a lot of passion, a lot of athleticism to that position. He brings a lot of leadership and works every day. He’s a stud.”
Lackey’s journey to Baylor consisted of hard work and dedication, which has translated into his game. Prior his career at Baylor, Lackey started played at a Division II school, Northwood University, in which he recorded 56 tackles and even returned kicks averaging 26.1. While Lackey was grateful for the opportunity, he wanted something greater. He transferred to Riverside Community College and continued to dominate the line. Lackey recording 54 tackles to help lead his team to an 11-0 record. During this time, he began to put on healthy weight and increase his speed leading to become the player he is today.
A year later, Lackey found Baylor. After the campus visit, Baylor felt right as he met with the coaches and learned more about Baylor. Lackey wanted to take advantage of the opportunities Baylor had to offer and committed on the spot.
Lackey’s versatility has been an integral part of the team. His quickness allows him to drop back in coverage. The leadership and passion he brings to the field makes a significant difference with the defensive unit.
“He can cover, he can blitz, he can tackle, he’s got speed, he’s got lateral movement and he’s got intelligence,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “He’s got an inspiring factor to him from the standpoint that he always plays with a lot of passion and energy. It means something to him. He cares about the people in this football team.”
Lackey’s goal is to continue learning and growing into the defense. Lackey has already forced two turnovers this season: one interception and a forced fumble. In his first game against Texas Tech on Nov. 24, 2012, Lackey had a career-best two interceptions, a performance many Baylor fans want to see again. While his big play ability is what people notice, his pride comes from improving his game and making sure the fundamentals are second nature.
“Every game I’m learning and writing stuff down,” Lackey said. “Whatever I do wrong, I want to fix that the next week.”
As intense and focused Lackey is on the field, he’s a different person off the field. While’s not complacent, he is laid back, taking everything in stride. Lackey’s dedication and passion has fueled a fire inside of him. Since the first day Lackey came to Baylor, the coaches tested him to see what he could do. Despite being a key starter, his story is still being written as he continues to work hard and learn.
“It really was a growing process,” Lackey said. “I was thrown into the wolves. They wanted to see what I could do, so they just threw me in there for me to react to what was going on and then coach me up. The learning still hasn’t stopped.”