Things have a strange way of coming full circle in life. One usually finds oneself right where one is supposed to be at the end.
For UCLA safety Quentin Lake, who is here in Las Vegas for the East-West Shrine Bowl, there is a real place in life at the next level that could be full circle: Steel City as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If Lake, a 6-foot-1, 201-pound safety, makes his personal wishes come true, several Steelers fans will once again pull out their old black and gold Lake 37 jerseys, considering the UCLA standout to be the son of a famous former Steelers player and coach. You probably know him well. Have you heard of Lake Carnell?
Watching Lake at UCLA in recent seasons, you can see a lot of his father in his game. Although Lake is more of a safety/nickel hybrid back combination suited to the current game compared to the role Carnell played with the Steelers from 1989 to 1998, the two are stylistically similar. For the son of a professional NFL bowler at Carnell Lake, the comparison to his father might be a bit old, one would think.
That is not the case for Quentin, who accepts it and takes it as a challenge to carve his own path but also to live up to expectations. Not only that, Quentin has a guy in his corner who has played football at the highest level, helping him learn the game at a fast pace, putting him ahead of the game in the draft process.
“Yes… I love the comparison. First of all, I love it, because it is a challenge. Obviously you have to live up to a certain expectation. He set the bar really high, you know, congratulations, but you know, he’s been amazing,” Lake said during an interview with the Steelers Depot crew Saturday inside The Velvet Lounge at Luxor Hotel & Casino. “In terms of my game and what he taught me and things like that, you know, he’s been a huge influence in my life, but not necessarily on the physical side, but on the mental side. What to watch, what are offensive formations? What are offensive tendencies? Alignments, homework assignment and all technical material. It has been a great help. We have been talking about football probably in the last two years more than in my whole life because now it is becoming a profession.
“So it’s been amazing. But yeah, it’s been a big help in terms of my game, mentally for sure.”
UCLA S Quentin Lake in coverage of MAN and BINGO. Very nice. pic.twitter.com/DdwLUCTSHP
— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) January 29, 2022
Not only did it help Lake become an NFL-caliber safety at this point in his career, being the son of not only a former NFL standout, but also the son of an NFL coach gave Quentin some great experiences in life. .
While Carnell was the defensive backs coach at Pittsburgh from 2011 to 2017, Quentin was able to be around the team as much as he could while still playing college football in California. Being able to experience an NFL locker room, meet professional athletes, and get an up-close look at what it takes to be a professional athlete today helped UCLA develop along the way.
“I didn’t get to spend that much time [around the Steelers] like I wanted just because I was still in high school, I was still in high school football and stuff like that,” Lake said. “But the times I could, it was amazing. Being able to meet the players, I met the coach [Mike] Tomlin met Ben [Roethlisberger]I met a lot of guys…AB [Antonio Brown] when I was on the team.
“So, you know, it was an amazing experience to be around the team,” Lake added. “Obviously you want to be closer to the team, because it’s a really fun environment, especially when you’re a high school kid who looks up to, you know, some of your idols and things like that. But it was amazing. I had a great time when I was there, but not much, not as much as I wanted for sure.
It can be easy enough to hook Quentin up with the Steelers simply because of the bloodline, which is what the Steelers like when they look at younger players, but there’s also the need for the safety and the nickel. With a strong week, Quentin will continue to turn heads and raise a few eyebrows during the draft process.
However, there is one place it would love to land.
“That would be… it would be a full circle to land in Pittsburgh,” Lake said. “Going from UCLA to Pittsburgh like my dad did, that would be amazing. That would be fun. That would be crazy…it would be so much fun.
“I wouldn’t be mad about that.”