Coveted Football Jersey Ranks High Among Hoyas

Better than retiring a number? Honoring it in action.

The following piece comes from the Blue & Gray,

Coveted Football Jersey Ranks High Among Hoyas

When the Hoyas take the field on Sept. 26 – Homecoming Saturday – against the Howard University Bison, there’s one jersey that will stand out; not necessarily for the quickest plays or the longest passes, but for the spirit of the game.

The No. 35 jersey, worn this year by fourth-year slotback Robert Lane (MSB’10), holds a special place in Hoya lore. For the past seven years, the uniform has been given to the Georgetown football player who best embodies the spirit of the late Joe Eacobacci (MSB’96) — a former Hoya standout who died in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

“Robert is a great leader for our team and a terrific representative for Georgetown,” says Head Football Coach Kevin Kelly. “His attitude and hard work on the field and off of it is something that carries on the spirit of Joe Eacobacci.”

Last year, Lane spent most of his time off the field due to a broken jaw incurred during the second game of the 2008 football season against Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Instead of dwelling on a lost season, he worked out to prepare for this season, went through rehabilitation and reflected on the days when he first joined the team in 2006.

“Once I got to Georgetown and heard how good a ball player (Alex) Buz (Buzbee) was, I knew that wearing Number 35 was a huge deal,” Lane says recalling his teammate who wore the jersey two years in a row. “Once I heard the jersey meant carrying on (Joe’s) spirit of (play) … I realized that everyone on the field should be going as hard as number 35.”

At 5’11 and 210 pounds, the Greensboro, N.C., resident is the first offensive player to join the list of No. 35s that includes Matt Fronczke (C’04); Michael Ononibaku (MSB’06), a two-time All-American defensive end for two-straight years; Buzbee (C’07), a defensive end who now plays in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and wore the jersey two years in a row; Stephen Smith (MSB’08); and Nicholas Umar (MSB’09).

Playing offense, Lane has had experience blocking at least three of the former No. 35s. “Blocking them was very difficult because I knew they were going to bring it 120 percent everyday on every play,” he says.

It is that type of intensity that Lane hopes to carry over to his younger teammates.

“It is motivating to the team to see that Number 35 run around and make plays,” he says, “but now the roles have switched, and (I’m) the guy that’s doing the motivating. There has been a standard set, and I just hope that I can live up to the guys before me.”

Keerome Lawrence (C’11), a third-year slotback from New Haven, Conn., says Lane’s energy can be felt throughout the team.

“He’s passionate about football, and he is the guy we always look to,” Lawrence explains. “Robert is the guy who’s always picking people up in practice and during games.”

Team motivation and leaving everything he has out on the field are just two aspects of Lane’s sense of responsibility in wearing No. 35. He says he feels a sense of duty to the Eacobacci family. The day he received the coveted jersey at last season’s year-end football banquet, the Hoya met members of the family and greeted them with hugs.

“Without a doubt in my mind, this is the greatest honor I have ever received,” Lane says. “It is an elite group of guys that I have so much respect for,”

Source: Blue & Gray