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Pitt

Akron's Lane Jr. faces dad's alma mater

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, 7:45 p.m.
Broadcaster Bill Raftery introduces former Pitt great Jerome Lane during 'Throwback Throwdown' Saturday Oct. 8, 2016 at Stage AE.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Broadcaster Bill Raftery introduces former Pitt great Jerome Lane during 'Throwback Throwdown' Saturday Oct. 8, 2016 at Stage AE.
jerome Lane Jr.
jerome Lane Jr.
The Pitt Panther celebrates Jerome Lane's shattering of a backboard while dunking during a basketball game against Providence Jan. 25, 1988 at Fitzgerald Field House. (Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh)
The Pitt Panther celebrates Jerome Lane's shattering of a backboard while dunking during a basketball game against Providence Jan. 25, 1988 at Fitzgerald Field House. (Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh)
Pitt's Jerome Lane (34) shatters the backboard while dunking during a basketball game against Providence Jan. 25, 1988 at Fitzgerald Field House. (Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh)
Pitt's Jerome Lane (34) shatters the backboard while dunking during a basketball game against Providence Jan. 25, 1988 at Fitzgerald Field House. (Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh)
Pitt's Jerome Lane dunks against Providence and breaks the backboard in January 1988 at Pitt Fieldhouse. (Chaz Palla |  Tribune-Review)
Pitt's Jerome Lane dunks against Providence and breaks the backboard in January 1988 at Pitt Fieldhouse. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

When Akron safety Jerome Lane Jr. saw the famous video of his father smashing a backboard at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House, he had to look twice at the TV screen.

Then he glanced at his father — all 320 pounds of him.

“He said to me, ‘How in the heck did you do that?' ” Jerome Lane Sr. said Wednesday, remembering his son's reaction to one of the most memorable moments in Pitt basketball history. “He tried to compare me now and me then. Me now can't do nothing.”

Lane, who then weighed 232 pounds as a Pitt sophomore power forward, took a pass from point guard Sean Miller on the night of Jan. 25, 1988, never slowed down and slammed the ball through the rim with such force that the backboard shattered into hundreds of pieces.

“Inferior equipment and superior body strength,” ESPN analyst Bill Raftery said that night from courtside.

Lane Jr. also played basketball at Firestone High School in Akron, where his dad is an assistant basketball coach, but he never broke a backboard.

“He tried it a few times,” Lane Sr. said. “But only a couple of strong people can do that: Darryl Dawkins, Gus Johnson, me.”

Lane will be back in town Saturday, but it's unlikely Pitt coach Jamie Dixon will let him anywhere near the backboards at Petersen Events Center. Lane will be too busy, anyway.

He will be at Heinz Field, rooting for Pitt against Akron, where his son, a redshirt freshman, is a backup safety.

“I'm rooting for Pitt, but I hope my son plays great,” he said.

Lane Jr. (6-foot-3 and 212 pounds) chose football as his collegiate path when coaches started calling and he stopped growing.

“I told him, ‘If you ever want to go to the next level, (football) is the best fit for you,' ” Lane Sr. said.

Lane Sr. said they took an unofficial visit to Pitt and met coach Paul Chryst, but they chose to stay home and go to Akron.

Lane Jr. said he has been impressed by Pitt standouts James Conner and Tyler Boyd and hopes to get a chance to meet them — in a football sense.

“I want a piece of him bad,” Lane Jr. said of Conner. “I love contact. If I get the chance, I'm going to come as hard as I can. I know he's going to come at me as hard as he can.”

Lane is one of several Akron players with Western Pennsylvania ties, including safeties Bre' Ford of Bethel Park and Zach Guiser of Greensburg Central Catholic; quarterbacks Tommy Woodson of Gateway and Chandler Kincade of Blackhawk; and tight end Michael Kish of Brentwood.

Former Pitt quarterback Tra'Von Chapman, who was dismissed last year after he was jailed on an assault charge, is sitting out this year after transferring from Ashland.

Ford, who returned an interception 51 yards against Penn State earlier this season, is the only starter.

Woodson, the No. 1 backup to starting quarterback Kyle Pohl, led Akron to two late touchdowns last week in the 48-17 loss to Marshall.

Woodson said he was disappointed that he wasn't heavily recruited by Pitt or Penn State, especially after his best friend from high school, fullback Jaymar Parrish, ended up at Pitt.

“I talk to him every day,” Woodson said. “We don't talk about football.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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