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Up Close: Mike Lanaris

Posted Oct 2, 2012 by Joey Johnston

Updated Oct 2, 2012 at 11:18 PM

A continuing series that spotlights the personalities of USF football players. Today, it’s senior middle linebacker Mike Lanaris.

Q: What Are Your Future Plans?

A: “I got my degree early and now I’m in the master’s program for entrepreneurship. I want to travel and document what I see. I’m really interested in the venture capital side of business, maybe raising funds and allocating funds to help societies in third-world countries. Ultimately, I want to find something I’m passionate about and influence people positively.’’

Q: What About Traveling Before Your Career?

A: “Wow! If I could ever do something like that, I’d do it in a heartbeat. My dad and I always have these great plans for going away. Before (USF training) camp, we always go to the mountains. This year, we went to North Carolina, where we hiked. We went to Tennessee before. We heard about people doing a motorbiking or backpack tour of Central and South America, where you just go down the West Coast, up the East Coast, meeting amazing people and getting all these experiences.’’

Q: What’s Your Earliest Athletic Memory?

A: “Playing T-ball. It was coach pitch. It was the Braves. I was in kindergarten. That was my first time ever playing baseball and I ended up playing with a guy that I knew my whole life. We played baseball together in our senior year of high school. We went through all the stages together.’’

Q: What’s Something People Don’t Know About You?

A: “I love playing golf. One summer when I needed a place to stay, I lived with some of the golfers at USF. I got to play for free with them. I played a ton of golf.’’

Q: Anything Else?

A: “I’m definitely passionate about my faith. I feel like I have a spiritual side. I find a lot of strength in that and my family. I may not speak about it much and I really don’t try to force it. But if that’s what’s on my heart, I’ll talk about it. It’s always something I hold close to me. I find a lot of strength in that in hard times. I was brought up in the (Episcopal) church. Now I’m really into Bible study. When I was talking to the freshmen during our senior talks, I didn’t really leave them with a message. I left them a Bible verse that has gotten me through a lot of hard times. It’s James 1:2-4. The Lord tests you and prepares you for hard times. He teaches you perseverance and through that, He makes you whole, lacking nothing. I think everything happens for a reason, no matter how hard it seems. It’s going to make you a better person. You’re going to get through it and you’re going to come out a better man on the other side. There’s a lesson to be learned in everything. People are put in someone’s life for a reason. These things are my rock. All the answers are there when you look inward.’’

Q: Favorite Sports Teams?

A: “As crazy as it sounds, I really don’t have any. I like the Magic because I’m an Orlando guy. But growing up, I never had a favorite NFL team. Growing up, I was a huge University of Miami college fan. My grandfather (Jim Munnis) played there, I think in the 1940s, so that made me a Miami fan. I grew up idolizing Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma. To this day, Miami games are special for me. I still find myself watching Sean Taylor highlights on You Tube. I love the way he played. I loved the whole defense and the swagger. When we won at Miami two years ago, that was a huge moment for me.’’

Q: Favorite Athletes?

A: “I’m a huge A.J. Hawk fan because I love the way he plays the game. Sean Taylor was a big one. In baseball, I was a huge Pudge Rodriguez fan because I was a catcher. I liked Mike Piazza. I was a baseball guy. I didn’t realize football was going to be my way into college until my sophomore year of high school.’’

Q: What Is Your Greatest Athletic Accomplishment?

A: “The best moment is the present, where I am today. Everything leading up to now has prepared me for where I am today. That’s a senior, University of South Florida, starting on defense, playing Division I football, making it through five years of college. I’m proud of that and I’m proud of our team.’’

Q: Who Are Your Favorite Entertainers?

A: “I’m a huge Will Ferrell guy. I love Michael Scott in ‘The Office.’ Steve Carrell is another one.’’

Q: Favorite Movie?

A: “It’s a tie between ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Wedding Crashers’ and ‘The Hangover.’ It might be ‘The Sandlot.’ I’ve watched that more than any other movie in my life. I think I know every life in that movie. ‘Gladiator’ … everything about it is fantastic.’’

Q: Favorite TV Show?

A: Either ‘The Office’ or ‘Parks And Recreation.’ ‘’

Q: Favorite Class At USF?

A: “It was a Leadership class I took this summer with a bunch of my teammates.’’

Q: Favorite Music?

A: “Classic rock. Stuff from the 1970s. Lynard Skynard, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, The Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, CCR, ZZ Top. It brings me back to my dad because he listens to that. I remember driving around with him, having fun, hanging out. They don’t make music like that anymore. That’s a simple fact.’’

Q: Dream Vacation Spot?

A: “Spain or Greece. I’m Greek. I’ve got a lot of Greek in me. It’s a colorful group of people. My father is Greek. My mother is German and Irish. My father’s parents were from Greece. When they got here, they wanted to conform to America, so they changed their names. My grandfather’s name is Terry and his brother’s name is Peter. But they were really Petros and Aristides. They changed them in school because they were too hard for people to say and something kind of got lost. He never taught my dad Greek because he wanted him to be American. Looking back, they wish they would’ve kept more of the culture. Me, too. I know some of it, but not a lot.’’

Q: Favorite Food?

A: “I love all kinds of Greek food, but my favorite food is probably wings. There’s a great place in Longwood. Probably the best wings I’ve ever had.’’

Q: Who’s The Most Impressive Person You’ve Ever Met?

A: “Somebody who really sticks out is (former USF linebacker) Kion Wilson. He was a senior when I was a freshman. This was a good guy, so good-hearted and he had every reason not to be. He had fallen into the wrong crowd. He lost two of his brothers in a short period of time. He’s the hardest worker I ever knew. He was always trying to help. He always welcomed me with open arms.’’

Q: Who Is Someone In History You’d Like To Meet?

A: “Jesus Christ. That’s a no-brainer. I think I will meet Him. That’s the plan. Something not so stereotypical would be Mother Teresa or Gandhi, somebody super-selfless who helps people.’’

Q: What Concerns You About This World?

A: “My gosh, a lot. I really try to educate myself on a lot of political, social and economic views. The more I learn or delve into stuff, the more I realize I don’t have a clue of what’s really going on. I know the world would be a much better place if people just genuinely loved and cared for each other. It generally comes back to the family structure. Selfishness and greed are two universal things and they always cause trouble. If everyone tried to leave a positive imprint on the people they meet, how much better would this world be?’’

Q: Where Will You Be In 10 Years?

A: “Hopefully, doing something that makes me happy, surrounded by people who make me happy. Hopefully, I’ll have a family. Whatever you do, if you’re passionate about it, the money and success will come. I want to wake up every day and be excited. That’s my goal.’’

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