SAN ANTONIO - Interesting college football fact: Texas A & M running back Jorvorskie "J-Train" Lane was a preemie, only 4 pounds at birth. His grandmother says she could hold him in one hand.
Lane has come a long way since his tiny start. The 6-footer from Lufkin, Texas, is listed at 268 pounds, but even his teammates acknowledge with a wink that that figure is a few bricks shy of his actual load.
"He weighs anywhere from 275 to 300, depending on whether he's had breakfast," Aggies quarterback Stephen McGee said of Lane, a junior who has scored 36 touchdowns over the past two seasons and will look to increase that total in tonight's Alamo Bowl against Penn State.
"A guy like that, as big as he is, if he gets a head of steam up, he's hard to take down," said Penn State's All-America linebacker, Dan Connor. "That wears on you throughout the game."
The Nittany Lions have faced several big backs this season, most notably Wisconsin's 5-11, 227-pound P.J. Hill and Michigan State's 6-foot, 255-pound Jehuu Caulcrick. But they're almost sprites compared with Lane, whose hefty dimensions probably have not been seen on a college running back since former Pitt star Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, who surpassed the 300-pound mark.
"He looks like he's about 300 to me," Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said of Lane. "He's probably the best short-yardage back in America. I don't think anybody's really stopped him on short yardage.
"Wisconsin always seems to have big backs, but not this big. How much did Ron Dayne weigh? Not nearly as much as this kid. When [Lane] gets on the scale, I think it says, 'One leg at a time, please.'
"He is a big man."
Well, this is Texas, where they brag that bigger is better. Must be all that chicken-fried steak. The Aggies have trotted out large running backs in the past, including Ja'Mar Toombs (a listed 275 pounds), George Woodard (255), Robert Wilson (245) and D'Andre Hardeman (232).
Finding scout-team players to impersonate Lane in practice has been one of the toughest tasks Penn State has faced in its bowl preparations.
"If we taped two guys together, maybe," Bradley said. "[Freshman tight end] Jon Ditto's playing him right now, but Jon comes in at only about 235." *