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Q & A with... Lehigh DB Brendan VanAckeren

We start out the blog with my interviews of the Lehigh football players at Media Day this past week. First up: senior DB Brendan VanAckeren, senior leader on the defense - and someone who loves to hit.

LFN: Tell me a little bit about your high school career. You're from this area, right?

BVA: I went to Liberty High School here in Bethlehem, and I've been here all my life. I was always a Lehigh guy growing up - I was always kind of around the program, seeing it in the paper and all that, so it was good how it all turned out. I had some close family friends that played for Lehigh, so they took me to games over there and I had a good idea of what it was about. I had been to the Lehigh/Lafayette game a couple of years before I came here, which was also a big draw.

When I got into my junior and senior year of high school, when I got into the recruiting process, I got over to Lehigh, loved the coaches, loved the players, and the whole academic/athletic [balance]. It was definitely a great fit, I'm very glad I ended up at Lehigh. I've enjoyed my three years here (going onto the fourth), so I'm just trying to make the most of my last year.

It's great having known about Lehigh and then to become a part of it, just to experience everything that the community has. It's been a great ride so far. Lehigh and the rivalry, it doesn't get much better than that.

LFN: Do you think it's different for Lehigh players who haven't spent their whole life in this area knowing about Lehigh?

BVA: They definitely have a different perspective. My freshman roomate was from Austin, Texas, who hadn't heard about Lehigh until they called him the fall of his senior year, a situation where he didn't know about Lehigh until the whole recruiting process. They're coming into a whole new culture. I knew what I was getting into, I knew the whole community around me, and I had friends at school that I grew up with.

You really see the differences freshman year when everyone comes from different backgrounds, but by the time you're a junior or senior you see everyone's become acclimated to it. Everyone's been on campus for years, and everyone feels the same way and has had the same experience.

LFN: Are you excited about the defense this year?

BVA: Yes, very excited. I know were return most of our front seven. We return a couple of new faces in the secondary, but overall I feel we should be very strong. Our linebackers are as good as they get. I feel we can do a lot of great things out on the field to help the team win.

LFN: What's your leadership style?

BVA: I lead more by example, trying to put everyone in positions and making sure everyone's doing their assignment every play. If I'm not the one making the play, helping them so they can. And then, just trying to be around the ball as much as you can. That's where the plays happen, so I can make plays when I have the opportunity.

I'm more of a quiet leader. I get vocal when it's needed, but I definitely lead more by example.

LFN: You have to be itching to beat Lafayette...

BVA: Absolutely. It's been four years in a row now. I know the class last year, it killed them knowing they went their entire career without beating them. We're in a similar situation coming into this year. It's about time we make that happen and we're very excited for that game. It's a great game to play, a lot of fun and a lot at stake. This year, we're hoping to be at the other end of it.

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