In only his second season with the football team, sophomore running-back Chris Lebano is already proving himself to be a dominant force in the Yellowjacket offense.

Against St. Lawrence University — which is ranked No. 1 in the University Athletic Association — he ran for 94 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns. Being extremely versatile, Lebano also caught three balls out of the backfield and ran back a kick return, both for 25 yards.

With only six games under his belt, the economics major already leads the Yellowjacket football team in rushing by over 50 yards and is second on the team with three rushing touchdowns.

Lebano is sure to get more playing time in the next two seasons, so more is sure to come. With him playing at his highest level, the sky is the limit for the Yellowjackets.

Why did you decide to come to UR?

I originally decided to come because of the academics combined with a football program where I got to like some of the players on my recruiting visit. I like the coaches and how they were constantly keeping in touch with me and asking how I was doing in my season during senior year. In the end all the pieces fit, it felt like the best place for me to succeed in the future.

Do you have any pre-game routines or rituals?

I personally try to get the people around me as pumped up as possible because I’m naturally energetic. The only pre-game ritual I have is to visit each end-zone before each game.

What has been your favorite football moment over the past two seasons?

I would say at this point it would be beating Alfred [College]. That was a great victory for our program as a whole. It wasn’t an individual win by anybody. It was a whole program win. It put us on the map when it comes to getting more respect from the nation.

Being a running back, who is your favorite blocker to run behind?

My entire offensive line. There is no one person who can do it all by himself. If one guy fails then I’m in trouble. It’s all about the unit when it comes to the offensive line.

Would you say there is a specific move you like to pull in the open field to juke out a defender?

I personally try to change it up. I feel like with any good defender if you use one move too often then they will adapt to it. Especially with someone like [sophomore linebacker] Brendan Pidgeon who you might catch once but you are not catching him again.

I try to use variety. Anything that seems to fit at the time.

What do you like doing better: Normal offensive sets or trick plays like the first touchdown against St. Lawrence?

I like to have fun. All those trick plays are tons of fun but you can’t do those if you are not sound with your core stuff. If we don’t have good production with our base package than those trick plays are never going to work because no one is going to care. They are not going to respect the ball flying around the field if we can’t move the ball in general.

I absolutely love to have fun out there and throw a couple reverses, hitch and pitches and what not.

Has being a running back helped you with your kick-off returning or vice versa?

Absolutely. Just being on the field helps with every aspect of the game. The more time you spend on the field, the more techniques that you develop. So being a running back and handling the ball all the time, having to sometimes catch and even block all helps in the long run.

How has this season helped you grow?

It has helped not only me but the team as a whole. It helps show no matter how down you might be or no matter how bad things look, every game is a new game. You have to play 100 percent every game. Personally, this season has helped me off the field with time management. With my on field practicing and getting a lift in when I can, it has helped me set time for studying. If I plan my day out then I can stay pretty strategic.

You have two more seasons left at UR. What do you think you and your team can accomplish?

Without question, a Liberty League Championship. I expect nothing less. I feel like one day we could win it all. I would never put anything behind us. It starts with attitude. If you don’t think you will win then you’re not going to win. I love the seniors this year and I want to learn form previous teams. Never wait until it’s too late. Never say ‘we will be great next year.’ The rest of the underclassmen and I want to get it done as soon as possible.

Manrique is a member of the class of 2012.

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