NGSC Sports

NGN Interviews Lindenwood’s Francisco Llanos

Francisco Llanos graduated from Chamberlain high school in Tampa, and was urged by his high school coach to walk-on at Southern Miss. His insatiable work ethic combined with his quickness, and knack for creating separation at the wide receiver position earned him a football scholarship after just six months with the team. Llanos redshirted his true freshman year, but saw his playing time increase in his sophomore, and junior year.

With Llanos’ final football season at Southern Miss on the horizon, his coaching staff, and his teammates were relying on him heavily. Unfortunately Llanos tore his ACL just prior to the beginning of the 2013 season. While he was unable to get another year of eligibility at the Division-I level, he remained undaunted and discovered that he is in fact eligible to play one more season at the Division-II level.

Llanos, transferred to Lindenwood University and is slated to be an integral part of their football team this coming fall. Now 100 percent recovered from his ACL injury, Llanos is projected to have a big year for the Lions.

See below interview with Francisco Llanos regarding his time at Southern Miss, events that led to his transfer to Lindenwood University, and expectations for the 2014 season:


Howard: “What were the chain of events that lead you to walking on at Southern Miss?”

Llanos: “Coming out of high school, I really didn’t get recruited too much. The only school that was recruiting me at the time was the Citidale, and FAMU. Those programs really didn’t fit my style of play. My high school coach played with Larry Fedora, head coach at Southern Miss. The relationship that me and my receivers coach had, I just trusted him and walked on at Southern Miss.”


Howard: “Usually there’s a signature moment that leads to a walk-on player earning a scholarship. What lead to you being awarded a football scholarship?”

Llanos: “Going into college period, I really didn’t know what to expect, let alone earning a scholarship. I just had the mindset to just go in and compete and do everything I can to earn that scholarship. I was blessed with that opportunity six months in.”


Howard: “You tore your ACL just prior to the beginning of your senior season at Southern Miss; what NCAA ruling enabled you to transfer to Lindenwood University and maintain eligibility?”

Llanos: “For some reason I couldn’t get a medical at Southern Miss. I think it was because I redshirted my true freshman year, so my eligibility was up at Southern Miss. In Division-II you get ten semesters to play four years. When I graduated from Southern Mississippi, I actually graduated in my ninth semester, so I had one semester left. That gave me another year of eligibility in Division-II.”


Howard: “What was the toughest part about the ACL rehab?”

Llanos: “Probably the mental aspect of it. The first couple months are especially tough because you’re not doing the things you want to do, like the route running and the football activities. It’s just rehabbing and getting strength back. After that it’s just trusting it and knowing that it’s healed.”


Howard: “Would you say that you’re now 100 percent?”

Llanos: “I’d definitely say the knee is 100 percent right now.”


Howard: “Any other players on your team expected to have a big year?”

Llanos: “The quarterback, Dylan. Me and him have been communicating a lot and been throwing. I definitely like him as a quarterback. Not only as a quarterback, but as a leader. I really think he can have a big year. Our linebacker Connor who is a really physical kid and very athletic is also going to have a big year.”


Howard: “Style of offense you’ll be running this season?”

Llanos: “Very similar to what we ran at Southern Miss: no huddle fast tempo spread offense, so I’m definitely excited about that.”


Howard: “Will you be lining up all over the field or do you have a dedicated position for the most part?”

Llanos: “Right now it’s a little hard to tell.  Offensive coordinator and head coach told me I’m going to start off in the slot, but he plans on using me all over the field as far as outside, maybe even some in the backfield, so I’m pretty excited about that.”


Howard: “For young wide receivers, let’s say you’ve got a cornerback playing you to the inside, and you’ve got to get over on a slant or an over route or something of that sort; how do you attack that defensive back?”

Llanos: “Well first off you’ve got to use your hands. He’s playing inside so you’ve got to use your quickness and your hands to get inside. You’ve got to use a little bit of your body as well. For the most part – it starts at the line of scrimmage with your hands and your feet.”


Howard: “What part of the defensive back are you attacking in that scenario? Are you looking to attack outside or are you instantly trying to get inside?”

Llanos: “For me I would attack him straight on. I wouldn’t go outside because he’s already inside and it’s going to be that much harder to get inside. So I think the best thing is to attack him straight on, or even inside.”


Howard: “If you had to tell a young player how to beat bump press, what instruction would you give him?”

Llanos: “My personal opinion on beating press, a lot of guys like to do moves off the line and all that stuff; I was taught what we call a speed release, where we go right now. Whether it’s inside or outside, you beat your man with speed. Now days, corners expect you to do a move, but I think you just run right off the line and just attack inside or outside I think that will keep the DB (defensive back) unaware of what you’re doing.”


Howard: “When reading leverage, what exactly are you looking for?”

Llanos: “I typically look at hips, but most of the time I look at his feet. I think his feet tell you everything. If he’s flatfooted, he’s going to try to jam you. If he’s on his heels, he’s probably going to be a motor corner where he rolls out of it. So I think his feet definitely tell you what he’s going to do.”


Howard: “What is your greatest strength as a player?”

Llanos: “Definitely I’d have to say my route running. Being able to create separation and getting in and out of my breaks is my biggest asset as a receiver.”


Howard: “What’s one area you really want to improve upon?”

Llanos: “I’m not the biggest receiver, I obviously can’t get taller, and so I want to definitely get stronger in the weight room so that I can block a little bit better. When it does come time for bump and run, I can use my body to get separation and not just solely rely on my route running.”


Howard: “At the end of the 2014 football season, where does Francisco Llanos hope to be?”

Llanos: “First off, I definitely would love to play in the Division-II national championship. It’s different from past seasons in Division-I because we have the playoff system. I think going to the playoffs is definitely a goal of mine, and a goal of our team period. After that, of course I’d like to get invited to any all-star games, combine, just anywhere I can showcase my talent.”


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