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Lang looks like next big thing for Hurricanes

If Kenard Lang's family had its way, he would not be the next great Miami Hurricanes lineman.

They hoped to see Lang wearing the green and orange of Florida A&M. But he is a Hurricane, and greatness may only be a matter of time.

"Kenard's development has been phenomenal," UM defensive line coach Rick Petri said. "We knew he had the tools and the physical ability to succeed. But he's making a bigger impact quicker than we expected."

Impact? The redshirt freshman, who started the season as a backup, made 2{ tackles behind the line, had two sacks and forced a fumble against Florida State three weeks ago. He sacked West Virginia's Clint Johnston twice last week, raising his team-leading total to 7{ sacks.

"He's awesome," UM All-America defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "Just look at what he's done so far. He's constantly making plays, big plays. Everybody here seems to be the next somebody, the next Jerome Brown or the next somebody else. I don't know who he would be, but he's definitely next."

Virginia Tech's Maurice DeShazo is next in the defensive end's sights. The All-Big East quarterback leads the Hokies (7-1, 4-1) into the Orange Bowl on Saturday. DeShazo's scrambling and big-play ability stand in the way of a conference-title showdown for the Hurricanes (5-1, 2-0) at Syracuse next week.

But DeShazo is also in the path Lang has established since Rusty Medearis gave up football two games into the season.

"Kenard Lang has really done more than we asked for. We wanted him to step in and grow after Rusty retired," coach Dennis Erickson said. "But he's probably been our most effective lineman next to Warren Sapp. He's given us that constant upfield pressure on the quarterback."

Lang knew about pressure before arriving at UM. His father and an uncle played for FAMU. After Lang ended his days as a three-sport star (football, baseball and basketball) at Orlando Evans High, his family urged him to become a Rattler.

"It was really hard on me and hard on them. They were against me coming here," Lang said. "They wanted me to continue the tradition and go to Florida A&M. They said I could become a star there, too. But I wanted to play at this level and I thought this was where I needed to be."

Physically, Lang could develop into a NFL-quality end. His 6-4, 251-pound frame could grow bigger and stronger. He has the quickness to beat tackles and run down quarterbacks.

"He just needs to get more on-field experience and get bigger in the weight room," Petri said. "And that will come; he's got a lot more time.

"You see him now and wonder where he'll be in two more years. He could be devastating."

And the Lang family is no longer devastated by this Hurricane.

"They still love Florida A&M and wish I was there, but they're turning into Hurricane fans," Lang said. "I could hear my mom out there cheering against FSU. They'll always be behind me wherever I am."

Which is usually in a quarterback's face, earning a reputation as the next great at UM.

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