SE: Lucas Enjoying Life in the NFL
During his most recent visit back to Manhattan, former Wildcat offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas had the opportunity to get out in front of K-State fans on a completely different playing field.
The 6-foot-9, 335-pound offensive tackle warmed up his left arm, stepped up on the mound in Tointon Family Stadium and threw the opening pitch before K-State took on Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.
“I just hope I don’t mess it up!” laughed Lucas prior to the throw. “I haven’t thrown a baseball in so long, so it’s going to be hard. I’ve known about this first pitch opportunity for about two weeks now, so I’ve been excited, but I haven’t thrown a baseball in a long time.”
Despite his nerves before the game, Lucas wound up and threw a strike to K-State freshman Jacob Ruder. The stadium erupted in applause.
For the past two years, Lucas has been playing in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Lucas signed with the Lions as a free agent in 2014 and has had an impressive start to his career as he’s played in a total of 30 games and earned six starts at offensive tackle. He’s helped the Lions earn a playoff appearance in 2014 and an 18-14 record during his two seasons with the team.
“It’s been different; living in Detroit is a lot different from living in Manhattan, Kansas, but it has its perks, and I’m having fun,” explained Lucas. “I’ve started games, played in London, started and played in a playoff game, so just getting to experience playing in the NFL, every part of it, it’s just a blessing. Not a lot of people have the chance to do it, so as long as I get to play, I’m going to cherish it and take advantage of it.”
After redshirting his first year at K-State in 2009, Lucas went on to play in 50 games with 26 career starts and helped the Wildcats win a Big 12 title in 2012, earn four-straight bowl berths and achieve a 36-16 record in his four seasons on the field. He was named an All-Big 12 First Team performer by the league’s coaches as a junior in 2012, and, after entering his senior season as a Preseason All-Big 12 selection and on the Outland Trophy watch list, he finished the year earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors.
Lucas credits much of his success in the NFL to his time with the Wildcat football program.
“Coach Snyder showed me how to work hard,” said Lucas. “He taught me a lot of values. He taught me how to be a good man, to be accountable and to be responsible. I give him a lot of credit for where I’ve made it this far; he helped mold a big part of me. I felt prepared to play in the NFL. If anything, I may have even over prepared myself because I got so used to working hard here at K-State. It was an adjustment not to go as hard, but K-State definitely got me ready for that first step.”
Along with his success on the playing field, Lucas has been taking advantage of how he spends his time off the field as well. He recently was one of 26 players in the NFL Players Association’s “Externship Program.” Through the program, players have the opportunity to explore different career fields they may wish to pursue after football. From working inside college athletic departments to working on Capitol Hill, the opportunities in these internships are vast. Lucas was one of eight players to intern with Under Armor and spent a month from mid-February to mid-March at the Under Armor headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.
“We went down to their campus, got to take tours around the whole complex and see the different departments,” said Lucas, who graduated from K-State with a degree in marketing in December 2013. “We saw shoe design, clothing design, the front office, everything. We got to pick and choose the things we wanted to do and got to get our feet wet in all those different departments. It was a good experience.”
While Lucas hopes to continue his career in the NFL as long as he is able in the upcoming years, he knows planning for his future after the game is important and hopes to take advantage of the Externship Program next year as well.
Though he’s now playing football and competing on a new level, Lucas said he thinks back to his time at K-State often. He said the people at K-State – his coaches, teammates, friends and fans – played a big role in his success today, and he’s grateful for their ongoing support.
“I want say thank you to everyone for all the support throughout my five years at here and throughout my years in the league. Thanks for all the support, it’s been appreciated,” Lucas closed. “And I want to thank K-State Athletics for having me back, letting me visit with the fans and throw the first pitch today. It’s been exciting.”
The Wildcat football team begins spring practice on Wednesday and will conduct 14 practices leading up to the Purple/White Spring Game on Saturday, April 23, beginning at 1:10 p.m., in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Tickets for the spring game can be purchased for only $5 through the K-State Athletics Ticket office online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the main ticket office inside Bramlage Coliseum. Those who order or renew their season tickets by this Friday’s early bird deadline will receive two free tickets per account to the spring game.