Lehigh NFL Draft Prospect QB, Chris Lum Interview
Chris Lum played college football at Lehigh University. He started some games during his sophomore year, but took over officially as the starter for his junior and senior seasons. During his senior season, he had a 68% pass completion, and accumulated 4090 yards, 32 touchdowns, and only 15 interceptions and led Lehigh to a 10-2 record. He was the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year this past year. He’s getting looks at from many NFL teams. He is entering the 2012 NFL Draft, and his draft stock has risen in recent months. This interview was conducted before the 2012 NFL Draft.
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with www.prointerviews.org, www.facebook.com/ProInterviews and www.twitter.com/ProInterviews. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Chris Lum. Lum played QB and attended Lehigh University. During his senior season, he had a 68% pass completion rate, and accumulated 4090 yards, threw for 32 touchdowns, and had only 15 interceptions and led Lehigh to a 10-2 record. He received First-Team all League honors during his junior and senior seasons. For his performance last year, he earned the title, Patriot League Offensive of the Player. He is entering the 2012 NFL Draft. Here is the interview with Lehigh all time great QB, Chris Lum.
Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?
Lum : Being from Lehigh, it’s not like it brings in huge media, or a ton of fans. The fans that show up genuinely want to be there. I really, really appreciate all the fan support we would have Lehigh. After the game, we always had families and parents coming up to you, congratulating you on the good win, saying “Hi,” checking in on how are things. I interact really well with them, I’ve signed a couple of autographs after games. I’ll do it for everyone, especially the kids. I love Lehigh and all the support that I’ve gotten here.
Strauss : How did you start playing football?
Lum : Basically I started playing baseball, basketball at the earliest year that I possibly could. I was always extremely competitive in anything. If we were playing a board game. I don’t know, I just remember I hated to lose. It was just something that was a part of me. I am not even sure what age it was, but I just remember that I started as soon as I could. I started all three sports.
Strauss : Did you play quarterback when you grew up?
Lum : Well in youth league football, I was actually a tight end and like a 3rd-string quarterback. But, ever since the sixth grade, I’ve been quarterback. Since middle school and on, I had started at quarterback.
Strauss : What was the transition like for you high school? Did you start from freshman year or did you play JV quarterback or how did that work out?
Lum : Yes. My freshman year, I started on a JV team as quarterback. Then, sophomore year, I played a lot. Actually, I started game five and then in game seven, I actually got injured. I broke my foot. I really got a good amount of playtime but there’s a guy ahead of me that was a senior that started for a couple of years that was pretty good. I didn’t technically consistently start until my junior year of high school.
Strauss : What were your junior and senior years like at high school football?
Lum : I loved them. Both years we were very successful. Junior year, it was kind of–we lost, but we beat our rival in the regular season and then, we lost to them in the first round of playoffs, and we went 10 and 1. It was kind of a heartbreaker. No one really expected it. Everyone thought we were going to go all the way.
Then, in the beginning of my senior season, I had to deal with some pretty big adversity. At the very beginning of my second game, I broke my left arm pretty bad. I had to miss seven games because of it. They actually thought I wouldn’t be able to play the rest of the year. It was a pretty bad injury, but I rehabbed really hard and came back game nine. We needed to win that game in the play-offs. We won that, and then, we eventually lost in the regionals.
Strauss : What was your recruiting experience like?
Lum : It was pretty crazy, and the whole process was pretty crazy. There was a lot of driving, a lot of traveling, seeing your one-day chance, and all those things. It was pretty up and down too. After junior year, I really had a good season. I was healthy the whole season. I was selected All-State, and I thought I was recruited by big schools like Michigan State, and just a ton of big schools, even out of state. Then, I went to all these senior one-day camps, and I just didn’t perform, not as well as I wanted to since I was going to them.
I was playing summer baseball during that time, and I just didn’t perform that well. Because of that, I didn’t receive any offers going into my senior year. In my senior year, I had that injury and everything and I was like “How do I now come and play college football?” So I started reaching out to some local Division 2 teams in Michigan because there aren’t really any 1-AA schools in Michigan. Actually, I am familiar with that division because when I was in high school, the goal was to get recruited. That were some schools that were recruiting me. Grand Valley, Saginaw Valley, and Hillsdale all started recruiting me really hard. Those were the three that recruited me really hard. I remember the Hillsdale coach was like “You’re still around? We thought that you would have been picked up for sure by now and committed somewhere.”
Anyways, Lehigh actually came into the mix really, really, late into the whole recruiting process. They just stopped by my high school and offered me an official visit. I pretty much took the visit, and committed about three days later.
Strauss : Why did you choose Lehigh?
Lum : Financially, they were offering me a great package, in that regard, which was important to me. The football was a really rich tradition here even though we were coming off not the best seasons. They were like 5 and 6 the previous couple of years, but I knew that Lehigh had was a very strong tradition just like in my high school, well-followed, in a good division, and a good league.
Academically, Lehigh has an outstanding business school. They have a great business program. It just seem to really fit and also, I was definitely open to getting away from home and meeting new people. There wasn’t like Michigan State or Central Michigan where you’re hanging out with the same people and doing the same things. I am glad that I was able to get away and just experience a lot of new things.
Strauss : What was your first pre-season like that at Lehigh?
Lum : It was pretty crazy. In a month, you were learning the new playbook. At the beginning, you’re just learning how to even call play and the huddle end at the line of scrimmage. There was really a lot of learning going on and a lot of studying. You’re at college taking classes for the first time, so a lot of things are being thrown at you and I know it’s a lot to take in and manage. Freshman year, I was on the scout team up until about game 5 or 6 of the season and then I got bumped up to second string. I enjoyed scout team, and making the defense better.
Strauss : When did you actually get your first start in college?
Lum : My sophomore year, and it came against Harvard. I think it was game 4 this season. I started games 4, 5, and 6.
Strauss : And what was that experience like for you?
Lum : Pretty crazy. I was mostly reacting out there. I didn’t know the play book as well, I mean, obviously not as well as I do now or this past year. The speed of the game was a lot quicker than even practice. Your adrenaline is up a whole another notch when you’re in a live situation in a game. It seemed very fast, and I just wasn’t as comfortable as I was like last year out there. I was totally comfortable on the field last year, but sophomore year was pretty crazy out there.
Strauss : What were some of the things that you did in the off-season to help you prepare for your junior year?
Lum : There was a quarterback battle again and I was competing for the starting job during my junior year. I never worked so hard before that point than I did that summer, just training. I stayed up here, and I worked out with the team. I was throwing the ball a ton, doing everything I possibly could to win the starting job and I ended up winning during the fall camp. I really worked my tail off that summer just to get in really in good shape. I threw the ball a lot as there were a couple of receivers up here. I was always throwing the ball, but it was good to be here on campus.
Strauss : You talked about how hard you trained between your sophomore and junior seasons. What do you think was the key to your motivation during that time?
Lum : At that time, it was just playing time. I just really wanted to get that starting job. I would do whatever. I kind of had goals in the back of my mind, like once I got starting I wanted to be all-league and all that, but really, it was just thinking about the other guy that I was competing against and just thinking I am going to outwork him. Just getting playing time was the motivation.
Strauss : What do you think the best part about your junior year was?
Lum : Probably beating Northern Iowa for the first round of the playoffs, kind of be representing our patriot league. I don’t think it gets the most respect as a high quality league in terms of talent and all that, but when we beat Northern Iowa, I think we gained some national respect with that. That was probably the highlight.
Strauss : Your senior was your best season so far, we’ll see what happens with the pros but so far your best season to date. If you could just boil down all your senior season and why you were so successful, what would be the three keys to why you were so successful this past year?
Lum : Well, one I would say our coaching. I got really great offensive coordinator coach, Dave Cecchini. He was the one who really prepared me and taught me so much. He just really helped my comfort level out there, and the anticipation and what to expect and studying the defense of that week.
I would say my surrounding cast. I mean you need all eleven guys on the same page. I think a lot of credit needs to be given to my offensive line, and my receivers helped me. I had a couple of really, really good receivers last year.
Then personally, I really put in the effort again in the off-season to prepare myself in the film room, just becoming the best player I could. My hard work combined with the hard work of others, really contributed to this success.
Strauss : Usually when you reach the pinnacle, and say that you’re conference champions. How do go back the next year just as motivated to do it again? How’d it work for you?
Lum : I think with our team that I think we had a really good senior leadership, and we knew that one reign wasn’t enough, and we wanted to be even better the next year and I think our senior leaders, starting with our captains, there’s three of us, really sent a message to the rest of the team. Right after the season was over, every time we broke down at the end of a work out or practice, we would just break out, “We’re not satisfied.” So we just didn’t want to be satisfied with last year and we stressed that so much. As you know this team of our off season work outs and spring practice, and over the summer as well. Seniors did a really good job, keeping everyone accountable over the summer, make sure they’re working out and everything, doing their running and other stuff. So, I think just really good leadership is what led to back-to-back league champions.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite moment or some moments that sticks out in your collegiate year?
Lum : Yes. The win over Towson was probably the best game that I’ve ever played. It was such a wild game. We won 40-38 and the game score was tied at six different scores during that game. It was just back and forth. It was such a battle. I was so proud of the team in the way we fought so hard that day to win game. Again, that definitely gained us some national respect and going to the next week. I think we kind put Lehigh back to where it should be. The rich tradition here of football. We put it back on the map, I think.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite touchdown you’ve had in your career?
Lum : Nothing really sticks out, I guess. I just think of really good throws that I’ve had. At Towson, I had, a big one on the last drive on third down. That was a really, really tight window but I made a good pass there. I ran a touchdown against Lafayette, which is always good to beat those guys. As far as a throwing touchdown… I just thought of the one against New Hampshire. We were down 38-20 with just a couple of minutes in the third, and we came back. The touchdown that I threw that put us up past them, I never heard the stadium get so loud after that. It was such a great comeback. The touchdown I threw against New Hampshire to put us in the lead to Jake Drwal, our receiver. That was probably my favorite touchdown I ever threw.
Strauss : If you have to choose defense that gave you some troubles in college, what team would it be first off? Second, how do you respond to a game that you know going into it is going to be a tough defense?
Lum : I would definitely as last game, last year, North Dakota State. Their defense was just relentless, and put constant pressure on me. I don’t think I had a comfortable throw all day. They’re very athletic, very strong, and very fast and we knew that going into the game. There’s some things that you can do, you prepare your game plan but there are some things you just got to try and elevate your team and play at that speed. They were definitely a good defense. They won it all.
Strauss : You’ve been working at a pro-day circuit. What’s it been like going to different Pro Days and throwing and doing all that stuff for you and trying to raise your name up in the draft class?
Lum : It has been a pretty cool process, just trying to take it all in. It started with some training. Pretty soon after the season ended, I knew this is what I wanted to do. A lot of hard work and training, weight-lifting and running. I was very combine-specific with all the 40 to the shuttle, and all that stuff. So all the training I did was definitively geared towards those tests. I put in a lot of hard work and then I did actually five different work outs. I went to four Pro Days. Ducane was the first one, then Cal-PA, and then here at Lehigh, and then I went to University of Pennsylvania as well. I definitely got more comfortable by the third and fourth one. The first one I was like super nervous. You know you put all this hard work and effort into that one moment, and you get a very short period to perform and throw in front of the scouts and you want to make sure every throw counts. You’re definitely nervous, have some anxiety, and you want to test well. I am very happy with the way I performed at all my Pro Days and work outs and all the things that I’ve been doing. It’s been an awesome experience and I definitely don’t have any regrets with all the Pro Days I did and everything. I just really wanted to get my name out there coming from the smaller school and not as known. I just try to get as much exposure as possible, really make these scouts give me a look, and look at my film from last year and all that stuff. Now, it’s just kind of a waiting game. I hope I have some good interest. I also try to do things to get my name out there, kind of like this interview. I hope it gets my name out there more and we’ll see what happens.
Strauss : If you have to describe you leadership, you know being a quarterback you have to be a leader, not just being a position. How would you describe your leadership and how you influence the team and motivate the team?
Lum : I would describe it, pretty simply, as I lead by example and I wouldn’t ask someone to do something that I wasn’t willing to do. I wasn’t always the most vocal guy, in-your face guy. I was calm, cool, and collected, I would say. I spoke up when I thought I needed in order to rally the team. When I am in the weight I room, I want to make sure I do every rep, every set, and show the rest of the team, especially the freshman, to look at and see my hard work and hopefully, it motivates them to work harder. I would just say leading by example is my type of leadership style.
Strauss : If someone asked your teammate, who is Chris Lum, how would you expect them to answer?
Lum : I hope they would say he’s the hardest worker on this team. He was a great leader, and one of the best quarterbacks who ever played at Lehigh, if not the best. He is just a great player, and a great friend and someone I would follow and everything.
Strauss : If a scout told you to compare your game to someone right now in the NFL, who would you choose?
Lum : I guess I am pretty biased to Drew Brees (laughs). He’s a gunslinger. He throws the ball a ton and he’s smart with the ball. He obviously isn’t the tallest guy or the biggest guy out there, but he finds his windows to make his throws. He gets it done. He just wins and a tremendous worker from what I read, and his output on the field speaks for itself. I would compare myself to him. I threw the ball a ton last year at Lehigh, and I can run the ball a little bit, but I threw the ball a ton, had a lot of touchdowns, had a good completion percentage. Statistically, I had a great year. So probably him.
Strauss : If a team called you up and say “We have this pick, we’re thinking taking you. Tell us why we should use it on you.” What’s your best answer for them?
Lum : I’ll be the hardest worker on the team. I have a lot of potent. I would do well. I think I am a great decision maker. I can manage a game, throw the ball a lot, great accuracy, strong arm. Then, the intangibles, great leadership, work ethic, dedication, staying out of trouble. All of those things, I’m very disciplined, probably all that.
Strauss : What was it like being Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year?
Lum : After the season ended, I started receiving all types of honors and it felt really good. You’re recognized and the team was obviously recognized. We finished 5th in the Nation, and also we won the Lambert Cup and the ECAC team of the year. It was good the team got recognition, and the personal recognition feels really good that your hard work has paid off and was recognized by outsiders looking in. It felt good.
Strauss : There haven’t been many Mexican-American Quarterbacks in the NFL. There’s one right now, Mark Sanchez. Another in Jim Plunkett. What’s it like for you being a Mexican-American trying to work his way up into the NFL?
Lum : It’s not something I think about a lot. I definitely think about my family, and where I’ve come from, my family and friends back home and all of those things. I really feel like they care so much about me and support me so much that I kind of playing for them and for myself. Externally, from a heritage example, I don’t really think of it that much at all, I guess. But I am certainly thinking about my family and all that, I think about them a lot and I have really good support from my parents and brothers and all of my family. They always check in on me online and call me up, see how things are doing. I couldn’t be more happy with the support that I have from my family.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Lum : Any ice cream flavor… Let’s see. I’ve got to think of something. I know the flavor Rocky Road comes to mind just because like a rock, a quarterback, you’ve got to be tough, take hits, so that’s kind of the way I related it to in my mind. You’ve got to be durable and I was healthy through every game last year, did a lot of rehab in between games and things like that. In the NFL, I am sure you can expect to take some really hard hits, so kind of just got to be like the rock, and stand in there and don’t be afraid to take a hit and deliver the pass. So that’s what I’d go with.
Strauss : For someone who wants to play quarterback at any level and for someone who wants to try and make it to the NFL like you are right now, what advice would you give to them?
Lum : You know it’s not going to be easy. You’ve got to work really, really hard and dedicate a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of sweat, and money. It costs money to train, so just give it your best shot. It’s really all I’m trying to do. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I am not going to waste it. So I’ll tell them not to waste it. Go for it, see what happens, get your stuff out there as much as possible with exposure, and just enjoy the process as well.
Strauss : Is there anything else that you want to tell your fans that we haven’t really talked about even though we’ve talked a lot?
Lum : I mean I’m really just hoping for that one chance. I don’t want to call it taking a chance on me, but you know I want to have that one team to trusts me enough and believe in me enough that I could help their team win football games in the NFL. I’m just looking for that one opportunity and I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time, Chris. I really appreciate it.
Lum : Thank you very much. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Chris Lum. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website www.prointerviews.org for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProInterviews, and follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/ProInterviews. Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me!
->Here are the personal questions that Chris Lum answered.<-
Strauss : If you can be anyone who you haven’t met before, who would it be and why?
Lum : Drew Brees. I read his auto-biography over winter break, “Coming Back Stronger” is what it’s called. I really had a lot of personal similarities I think, with his upbringing and the way that he plays, a little undersized. I just had a lot of similarities with him. I would love to just get to meet him, and talk about football.
Strauss : Do you have a special pre-game ritual?
Lum : Nothing really out of the ordinary. My mom always texts me a prayer. We always text each other the morning before the game. I guess, that’s really it. Nothing in terms of warm-ups or anything that is out of the ordinary.
Strauss : And if you can ask him one question, what would it be?
Lum : One question. Probably… ‘How do you wake up each day, preparing yourself to be the best that you can be, and how do you stay motivated?’
Strauss : Who was your childhood star growing up?
Lum : I’m from Michigan and I really liked Grant Hill of Detroit Pistons a lot when I was younger. I didn’t see much of Barry Sanders when he played that was when I was really young. I don’t know why Detroit comes to mind, they haven’t been so good until lately. I love football, basketball, and baseball. I played all three in high school, and I just remember really liking Grant Hill.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite TV show?
Lum : Easily, SportsCenter.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite movie of all time?
Lum : The Patriot comes to mind, I’ve seen that movie a lot. I guess that’s it. I love the classic sports movies as well. You don’t really get many of those anymore. I guess you can go with “The Patriot.”
Strauss : Do you have a favorite type of pie?
Lum : (Laughs) Chocolate mousse pie. I really like chocolate.
Strauss : If you could choose, what would your last meal on earth be?
Lum : For my last meal, I’d probably want just a really good chicken parmesan.
Strauss : What would you drink with it?
Lum : Probably a Dr. Pepper.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite song to listen to before the game?
Lum : It’s usually just rap. I really like Eminem. I like “No Love” with Lil’ Wayne.
Strauss : If you can have any super power, what would it be and why?
Lum : I’d want to be in multiple places at the same time. I’m just really, really busy you know. I’d want to be in more than one place at once.
Strauss : So you could go to your passes and then catch them?
Lum : (Laughs) Yes.
Strauss : Thanks for answering the personal questions.