Some Background on Wayne Lyons

Submitted by alum96 on February 6th, 2015 at 10:10 PM

With the hiring today of "Mama" it seems the potential exists for 5th year senior Stanford DB Wayne Lyons to be headed to A2.  Until today I was trying to figure out why a (mostly) starter for a very good defense, at a great academic institution, with great weather, in a good conference, playing for a staff who develops defensive players well - would uproot his life for 1 year, but it now makes sense.

Anyhow here is a little I unearthed.  Unlike Michigan football, Stanford football is not rich with blogs and website covering every little breath so it was not easy to find too much.  RuleofTree - their SBNation blog - which I found a lot of good info on their prior coaches, and Kevin Hogan is my main source of all things Lyons ... and even then there were basically 2 stories remotely related to him this fall 

Also I only cared about what I could find the past 2 years - what he was ranked in HS means absolutely zilch. (He was the 6th best rated S if that matters to you)  I do hope S.C./Magnus can look at his film and offer their own scouting reports.   There is not much (positive) on his NFL prospects in terms of scouting but that is a harsh bar, and again the # of sources is limited - whereas I could find 15 opinions on Blake Countess quite quickly.

Stanford bio here.  6'1, 193 lbs.

Best as I could tell working backwards is Stanford had a first year DB coach this year and Lyons - despite starting in 2013 - was not a top line starter.  While a competent player he sounded like a starter by default perhaps paralling to a guy like Raymon Taylor.   A decent college player but one apt to make mistakes and who has holes in his game.

His 2013 to 2014 journey actually sounds a lot like James Ross III if we ignore the position.  Ross I believe was the 2nd leading tackler in 2013 (Lyons was the 5th in 2013 for Stanford), and saw his playing time eradicated quite badly, partly due to formations that focused more on nickelback rather than 3 LB sets and partly due to (????).   Lyons had a similar falloff in that he was a part time starter - 7 games started as a senior.  A blurb from ROT blog writer Jack Blanchat:

....his college career thus far has been more average than stellar. If this is indeed Lyons' final year at Stanford, perhaps he is looking for a starting opportunity after being forced to split time at cornerback this fall. Under first-year defensive backs coach Duane Akina, Lyons appeared to grow as a player, but some costly lapses may have forced Akina to restrict his playing time.

Blanchat was a bit more kind in his end of year wrapup of Stanford football writing in December:

Alex Carter was fantastic, Wayne Lyons finally took a leap, and Jordan Richards was great against the pass and the run. The only weak spot from time to time was Zach Hoffpaiur, who has never been particularly natural in coverage. (But he was good at stopping the run as a nickel corner.) I think Duane Akina proved to be an asset to the Stanford coaching staff right away, and I think the added physicality from this unit was attributable to his coaching philosophy. The fact that he finally got Wayne Lyons to break through his plateau was most impressive to me.

So the positive is Lyons seemed to make some progress from a plateau.  The negative is the writer seemed amazed by it.  And even with that progress he was still forced to split time.

One other thing to keep in mind was the other CB in Stanford's system was Alex Carter who apparently is good enough to declare early for the draft as he has.  So it seems Lyons (or other CB on field that Lyons lost playing time to) would be the target of opposing QBs).  But other than that Lyons was surrounded by a lot of talent - while Stanford fell off record wise their ills were mainly on the offensive side of the ball.  So he has no excuse of playing in a weak defense and not getting help.

I am going to put 2 scouting reports to end this and again keep in mind these are just individual opinions, and 1 is very scathing but to each their own - again I hope Magnus and S.C. can come and offer their views, not that we want to sugarcoat his abilities but the more views on him the more of a complete picture we get. 

First, Walter Football with an updated view of him in 2015 v last year:

2/7/15: Lyons had 30 tackles with three passes broken up and zero interceptions in 2014. He didn't impress against USC and struggled versus Notre Dame. Teams generally targeted Lyons instead of throwing at Alex Carter.

5/30/14: Lyons has good size and strength on the edge while also being a special teams contributor. The junior totaled 69 tackles with two passes broken up and an interception in 2013. To rise in the rankings as a senior, Lyons needs to show the speed and athleticism to cover speed receivers. He was beaten too often last year and allowed too much separation.

Second... and again this  a random Lions blog from last July... but it doesn't sound too different than Walterfootball - just more detailed...

At 6’1” 195, Wayne Lyons has size on his side as a cornerback prospect. Stanford utilized him exclusively on the right side, rotating out with senior Barry Browning last year. Lyons is entering his second season as a starter in 2014. His first did not go as planned.

Lyons was often picked on when receivers could expose his poor athleticism and technique. The Michigan State game is the prime example. Lyons’ hips are too stiff in transition. His footwork is sloppy in and out of his backpedal as well. Receivers who can quickly enter his comfort zone can get him spinning in circles and gain big separation out of breaks. He will then extend his cushion to inappropriate lengths to make up for it.

Though he has two interceptions a season ago, both against Notre Dame, Lyons doesn’t have great ball skills and isn’t often in position to play the ball in the first place. That means his size doesn’t become a benefit enough. Getting physical with receivers is the equalizer for him as with most technically challenged cornerbacks.

For Lyons to become a viable prospect at all, he must stop stumbling around the field in coverage, make his backpedal and leveraging more consistent, and tighten his space with receivers. He’s a senior prospect who still needs to master the basics.


So that's what we have - sounds like a guy who had a new coach come in last year, helped improve his game at least modestly but even with that was losing starting time to other guys.  And his running mate in the CB backfield left early for the NFL.  So these things also make sense as to why he would leave Stanford in his 5th year, other than Mama coming home.

Projected role on UM:  With Lewis locked down at 1 corner, and Peppers apparently moving to S there is a vacancy at the other CB.  Lyons sounds a lot like a taller Raymon Taylor - he is serviceable and a good 1 year stop gap which hopefully Stribling can push hard in his 3rd year and RS FR Brandon Watson can also push.  (Some might say Blake will be the other corner - could very well be - but I'd rather just see him be the nickel).  The defensive coaching at Stanford is generally very good so would not expect some quantum leap due to subpar coaching.



February 10th, 2015 at 2:45 PM ^

Clearly a smart guy with solid experience from a great program.  Hard to say exactly whether a certain coaching staff can click with a player but I like what Jackson/Zordich offer him apart from the great foundation he got at Stanford. 

He gets a fresh start in what is going to be an electric first year with Harbaugh and crew, and we get a mature, experienced prospect in a position to battle where he's needed. 

Lovin' it.


February 7th, 2015 at 12:14 AM ^

He would have to have a program of study at UM that his current school does not offer - so it wont be architecture.

And as I noted in the post he is getting fine coaching there.  The Stanford D staff since Fangio started there in Jim's last year has been excellent.  Much like Wisconsin they have to make do without the greatest of athletes yet put together a very good product that overachieves relative to starz by a large margin.  And in a much more pass happy conference than defenses here face. 

That staff did not churn out an early entry corner on the other side of the field and fail on coaching Lyons.  Akina is a very good coach who was at Texas as co-DC/DB coach for a decade - he is easily on par with Greg Jackson and well ahead of the resume of a Zordich.


February 7th, 2015 at 7:06 AM ^

Stanford does not offer a degree in architecture.  It offers a deree in Architectural Design which is in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept.  It is not a "pure" architecture degree like to one offered in U-M's Taubman College of Architecture.  There are arcitectural degree specialties within Taubman that Stanford does not offer. 

Duane Akina is a highly regarded coach who turned out a lot of DB's at Texas that went on to success in the NFL.  However, Greg Jackson and Mike Zordich had long, successful careers in the NFL.  There are tricks that they learned that they can teach Wayne Lyons from their playing days.  Being coached by two former NFL players will be getting a graduate degree in playing DB. 


February 7th, 2015 at 9:29 AM ^

Ok did not know that.  Pretty surprised Stanford would not have had such a program.

As for the coaching well I just want to avoid the Nuss hype of last year.  We have a bunch of competent coaches now but some of the comments I've seen already in other threads act as if other staffs in the NCAA are run by a bunch of poor to ho hum coaches and our "schematic advantage" is off the chart.

I'd say right now our staff is top 15 (prior staff may not have been top 50) and we'll see what the upside to that is based on what they do.  HC top 5.  There are plenty of other staffs with excellent teachers on them.


February 7th, 2015 at 11:43 AM ^

One of the unfortunate characteristics of internet-enabled social media is that it encourages group-think hype & hysteria masquerading as reality-based judgement. The wild swings in conventional wisdom here at MGoBlog is a perfect example of this. Before too long Jim Harbaugh and his staff will be outed as normal human beings capable of making mistakes, and there will be plenty of former Harbaughmaniacs who will sustain compound fractures of the tibia in the course of jumping off the train.


February 7th, 2015 at 2:31 AM ^

I think his maturity and the number of "big games" hes played in can only help our program.  We need some more options in our secondary.  We were pretty bad last year.  


February 7th, 2015 at 9:38 AM ^

Not sure. He wouldn't be on Walterfootball if in some capacity they hadnt thought he was at least some sort of NFL prospect at some point.  Coming out of 2013 he didnt have the greatest year but was a starter on a Rose Bowl defense and a 6'1 corner so just on measurables and starting for that sort of D he was probably a 3rd day prospect at that point, and you assume he would get better in 2014.  So it sounds like things didnt go according to plan.  In some ways a lot like Blake's progression.


February 7th, 2015 at 7:19 AM ^

Maybe he is considering this move to be with mom.  It would be difficult, if not impossible for her to see him play with her new position.  Or maybe the architecture opportunity is really the driving force. 


February 7th, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

Kids who choose Stanford or Michigan are usually smart kids who want a good education.  Stanford AND Michigan is a very good reason to follow Mom and get his Master's in a slightly different Architecture concentration than his Stanford Bachelor's.  Seems a good investment in his future as an architect.  Not exactly taking potholder-weaving 101 to get into the NFL.  (Nothing against potholder-weaving of course.)


February 8th, 2015 at 4:07 PM ^

yeah im sure hes got multiple reasons for considering a transfer.  and both are great schools, 2 of the best.  if his mom watching his last dozen games or playing in the big house werent motivation enough, im sure fresh start under harbaugh and michigan do the job.

id make the move just to have access to both alumni bases - not sure which grad degree hed rather earn, but only so many people graduate from both standford and michigan - add 500,000 or so michigan alums to his future network and hes even more set.

as for the player, i havent seen him much.  i do recall him impressing as a monster CB during soph yr and receiving lots of hype pre-jr yr.  only caught several games past few yrs so can only assume he hit the referenced plateau.  

mich needs DB depth and this cat played lots of snaps in big games so would be decent 1 year addition.  cant be too much worse than countess, hollowell, etc in terms of competing with WRs in space


February 7th, 2015 at 11:24 AM ^

I agree Don.

It does sound like mom does have some good connections based on the "NC" winning 7 on 7 team and having another point of access into southern florida never helps - especially one who knows the people and the ropes like his mom.

If you are Jim and you think on 5 year time frames his mom is probably much more of an asset in that regard than for her son per se.  Or she could just be a great mentor period.


February 7th, 2015 at 11:32 AM ^

I think Stribling is pretty athletic.... just a twig.  I was so very disappointed to see the weights posted this fall as I thought he'd put on 15-20 lbs for 2014 season and be ready to be a primary backup who could push for a starter's role.  Instead he showed up (from memory) within a few lbs of his 2013 weight as a true freshman.  He was always around the ball when he played in 2013 but he would get outmuscled or mistime his jump - no issue with that, most true freshmen 3 star CBs are not going to see the field at all so we were forced to play him since guys like Terry Richardson did not pan out.  But at least he was around the ball when the ball was delivered - something a lot of our other CBs failed to do. 

But you expect a guy like that to live in the S&C program, put 15+ lbs on his long frame and be ready to be a bad ass in 2014.  He has physical advantages over a guy like Taylor or Countess you cannot teach.  But anyhow I don't want to rehash the nightmare of 2013-2014; trying to suppress memories.


February 8th, 2015 at 12:13 AM ^

With extra scholarships, we have almost nothing to lose.  Plus, he's a Stanford grad, so worst case for him he'll be getting a great degree and setting himself up for a solid career afterwards. So the floor of this arrangement is a not lose-win.  if he ends up playing or even starting, bonus.


February 8th, 2015 at 2:07 AM ^

I have watched a lot of Stanford football over the past several years.  Wayne Lyons is good player, but he gets beaten on big plays a lot.  I believe he was the one who just blew the coverage on the last play of the Notre Dame / Stanford game this year, which gave Notre Dame the win.  Perhaps a change of scenery with some new coaching will do him good.