Former Brunswick High football player Devin Lafayette didn’t waste any time proving himself worthy in college.
While it wasn’t a conventional freshman season as COVID-19 rocked college football to the core, Lafayette took advantage of what time he had and thrived on the field.
Lafayette earned a starting role in the Northern Illinois secondary and finished the season as the Huskies’ second-leading tackler. That accomplishment led to him landing on two All-Mid-American Conference teams.
“My goal coming into college was to make All-MAC, but being that we only played six games, I had to make every game count,” Lafayette said.
In both the coaches and Phil Steele’s All-MAC teams, Lafayette earned third-team honors. While he was appreciative of being selected, he said it just makes him want to achieve more.
“I worked extremely hard since I got to NIU to be where I am now,” Lafayette said. “I feel I should’ve earned first-team — the third team only gives me a reason to work harder.”
Being a freshman student-athlete is hard enough, but adding COVID-19 to the mix only made Lafayette realize how important being responsible is.
“My first year in college showed me, especially, how many responsibilities you have,” Lafayette said. “Covid had us locked a bunch, but we still manage to have a good time with each other. It made me realize that in college, you have to be responsible.”
He said the most challenging adjustment was time management and how competitive everyone was on the football team. However, Lafayette did give his Brunswick coaches some credit and his aunt.
“The Brunswick High coaches always pushed me to strive for greatness,” Lafayette said. “They would never let me slack at practice, so I just kept that same mindset going into college. The work I put in with my aunty before I got to Illinois when I got that, I had the mindset to win every drill to show the coaches I can compete.”
That mindset helped him earn a starting role in the secondary, and he made noise throughout those six games.
Lafayette collected 36 total tackles, with 21 of them being solo. He also recorded a sack, an interception, one pass breakup and two pass deflections.
He said one of his favorite parts about the season wasn’t just on the football field but the ability to bond with his teammates and learning new things.
“My favorite part about my freshman year was being able to play football this year and bond with my teammates in the summer and fall,” Lafayette said. “Like, I hang out with especially Myles McGee, Daveren Rayner and C.J. Brown. Then the older players taught me how to persevere through the weather we have to practice in — a funny memory would be in our meetings with our defensive coordinator when he is making his jokes about a play we messed up.”
And as for his favorite memory on the football field, it came against Toledo.
“My favorite memory this year was during the Toledo game when I caught my first collegiate interception,” Lafayette said.
As he heads into his sophomore year at NIU, Lafayette has plans for the offseason to help elevate his game even more as he’s planning on hitting the weight room pretty hard to change his body.
Lafayette is one of many Brunswick High football players that are finding success in college. He’s hoping to maybe follow in the footsteps of Darius Slay, Justin Coleman and Tracy Walker — to name a few because the success runs deeper than those three.
The Golden Isles do support their athletes after high school, and he’s finding his spot in it all.
“Knowing that my community has my back makes me strive more because I know I have the ability and the mindset to go to the NFL,” Lafayette said. “As long as they are still behind me, the sky is the limit.”