Lance Lenoir isn't taking this moment in his life for granted. But it's a moment he expected to come ever since he was a child.
Take one look at Lenoir's resume, and it's no surprise the former Western Illinois wide receiver is graded as a late round NFL Draft pick or an undrafted free agent. He holds multiple WIU career records with 273 receptions, 3,796 yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 100-yard games, two 200-yard games and 41 consecutive games with a catch.
His career catches also broke the Missouri Valley Football Conference record.
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Despite the FCS getting more recognition each year as a league with plenty of NFL-ready players, Lenoir said he's still fighting off the small-school label as he works to get better leading up to the draft.
"I'm just getting better on my route running," Lenoir told HERO Sports. "Getting stronger, bigger, faster. I'm always working on my hands and getting my hands better. That's one thing scouts love about me, is my hands and my route running. I'm trying to perfect that. That's been my focus in the offseason."
Scouts, no doubt, have taken notice.
The 6-foot, 210-pound receiver said he has worked out for the Chicago Bears, who called him back for a second workout this week.
"That was fun," Lenoir said. "It was awesome to show them what I was capable of. Show them that I'm the best receiver in my eyes. I showed them what I can bring to the table and help out the organization or any organization. It was a great time meeting the staff and getting a workout in."
Indianapolis, Baltimore, Miami, Kansas City and Green Bay have also expressed interest to his agent.
The Chicago workout specifically was a childhood dream turning reality for Lenoir. He grew up in Crete, Illinois, and attended Crete Monee High School with Laquon Treadwell, a former star receiver at Ole Miss and the No. 23 pick for the Minnesota Vikings in last year's draft.
Football consumed Lenoir's childhood with a group of friends with big aspirations.
"It's been my dream since I've been young," Lenoir said on playing in the NFL. "Growing up and being around guys like Laquon who are in the league, that was our main goal and dream to do so. It's been one of my goals that I'm trying to cross off the checklist. I have plenty more to do and plenty more to go. I'm just thankful for this opportunity and glad to be in this position in my life."
Lenoir's and Treadwell's 2012 Crete Monee team won the Class 6A state championship. Lenoir enjoyed all-conference and all-area honors during his high school career. It was Treadwell, though, who was the all-American, the state's top recruit and the No. 19 overall recruit in the country by ESPN.com.
Once at WIU, Lenoir truly began to shine. He instantly led the Leathernecks in receiving yards and touchdowns during his true freshman season in 2013 to make the MVFC All-Newcomer team. His 1,000-yard sophomore season earned him a spot on the MVFC all-conference first team. Lenoir began to break WIU career records as a junior in 2015. He capped off his college career with all-American honors last season.
Lenoir said it was after his sophomore season when he realized his childhood goals were attainable if he continued to work hard and improve. He dominated at the FCS level, and most likely had FBS coaches shaking their heads on how they missed out on him. Lenoir was key in WIU's 28-23 win against Northern Illinois in 2016 with 83 yards off five catches.
And as he eyes his future in the NFL, Lenoir makes it a point to remember his past.
"I always had a chip on my shoulder, whether it was playing baseball or football," Lenoir said. "All my life, I've been the underdog. I had to prove myself and show people what I can do. That got me this far. That same hungriness and determination is pushing me through."