Thursday, September 16, 2021

'23 Commit Spotlight: IL's No. 8 Kyle Lehman Relishes Opportunity to be 'Next Grant Ament'

 

'23 Commit Spotlight: IL's No. 8 Kyle Lehman Relishes Opportunity to be 'Next Grant Ament'

Thursday September 16th, 2021 9:30am

(Courtesy Photo: Corrigan Sports)

For many, the comparison would be too much pressure: “You can be the next Grant Ament.”

But for Kyle Lehman, it inspires him and reassures him. And in training and learning from Ament himself, he’s got an aspirational model who can help groom him in hopes of adding a new — perhaps longer — chapter to the Penn State lacrosse story.

“That gives me some motivation. I’ve been watching him on TV, I’ve been working with him, and to hear people say that I have the play style as Grant Ament gives me the motivation to be comfortable and realize that I can make plays. It relieves pressure, it sounds weird, but I think being called one of the best players is something that motivates me and pushes me to be myself and play my lacrosse,” Lehman said.

Lehman was the first 5-star commit in the Class of 2023 to make his college decision, pledging to join the Nittany Lions in what ultimately was a no-brainer for the attackman from Wissahickon (Pa.) outside of Philadelphia. 

The No. 8 player in IL’s Top 50 Young Gun Junior Rankings, the lefty’s stock rose considerably this summer thanks to his quickness and overall athleticism on a talented Philadelphia Freedom club team, as well as Brotherly Love, and at individual events like Under Armour Underclass Games, (which he led in points and was named to the All-Tournament team) and at Maverik Showtime (where he was the All-Star Game MVP.) He’s played fairly positionless lacrosse, and at high school has been relied upon at times to do everything. At the next level, he should take the reins as the X attackman, following the footsteps of his mentor.

He is Penn State’s first 5-star commit on offense since Duke's Brennan O’Neill committed then de-committed, and he will eventually join forces with what could be a top-five incoming 2021 class at Penn State.

“Kyle’s way more athletic than I was at that age and probably more athletic than I’ll be,” Ament said. “His athleticism pops off the charts and it always has. His footwork is incredible. … He can go both hands very, very easily. He’s a lefty but his right hand is better than 99% of players. The biggest thing with Kyle the thing that always stuck with me that I told to Coach Tambroni is he’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever trained. He's always a million miles per hour working as hard as he possibly can. His shirt is soaked every time we train.”

He, along with a few other players from Wissahickon, would work out with Ament last fall in the morning before school. During the COVID shutdown, he and Ament became somewhat of a duo, with Lehman jumping in on Ament’s workouts and doing some one-on-one training. Ament called him “college-ready now.”

So did other college coaches. At midnight on Sept. 1, Lehman and his parents sat on the couch, and his phone went crazy right as the clock struck. Future Big Ten opponents Maryland and Ohio State were among the first to call, with both his and his father’s cell phone ringing constantly. He had more than 30 DI offers.

“I was really flattered. Honestly, three months ago if I went to guess how many calls I’d get, it was nothing compared to what I got. I’m very thankful and very flattered,” he said. “I really had to sit back and take a few days off my phone and relax and talk to my parents.”

Penn State was among the calls just after midnight, and Lehman appreciated their low-pressure approach. He said his conversation with Tambroni was less than a minute, and he reassured him to enjoy the process, take his time and come up for a visit.

It was already clear Penn State had an inside track. His father, Steve Lehman, was a standout for Penn State lacrosse in the early ‘90s, and they have season tickets to Penn State football and ice hockey games. Kyle Lehman’s first Penn State football game was when he was 3 years old.

When Kyle Lehman visited State College a few days after Sept. 1, it became 100% clear: There is no other place for him.

“I was so attached the first time I went up. My family really instilled Penn State into me, and it really stuck with me,” he said. “I really could not see myself wearing any other jersey but a Nittany Lion jersey.”

Up next for Kyle Lehman is football. He’s been the starting running back at Wissahickon since his freshman year and had six touchdowns in the last two games. He’s already finding the parallels between football and his future role with the Lions.

“It gets me more physical when I dodge. Reading the holes when I’m taking a handoff is a lot like feeding the ball in lacrosse. You have to read the defense, see where they’re coming from and find open holes to pass or run through,” he said. “Football has really improved my lacrosse game.”

And the work continues with Ament, who rewrote the Penn State record book in his time with the Nittany Lions and who’s eager to see Lehman add to it.

“I was brutally honest with him. There’s going to be days when you’re not going to like Coach Tambroni and not going to want to do certain things. Those days make you tougher,” he said. “Do you want to be a part of the record book or do you want to start it? I told Kyle, I kinda did, but at the same time I didn’t win a Tewaaraton, and I didn’t win a national championship, so there’s still a lot of writing left to be done. He has the power to do that.”