Lane Tech’s Laken Tomlinson drafted in first round

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The Detroit Lions thought the phone cut out.

Lane Tech alum Laken Tomlinson was so overwhelmed after being selected with the No. 28 pick Thursday night that his voice went silent when during the conversation with his new employer.

It wasn’t a bad cell connection. Rather, the Duke guard was processing what had happened at the Auditorium Theatre — he had been drafted in the first round, in his hometown.

“Just being here in Chicago, being a kid out of Chicago, it’s really amazing,” he said. “It made that moment so much emotional for my family and for myself. I’m just really happy.”

Tomlinson, who didn’t think he’d be picked on Day 1, grew emotional thinking about his mother, who raised four children on her own after moving the family from Jamaica in 2003.

“I’m sure she’s so happy about everything that’s going on,” he said. “I’m just happy to make her proud.”

Tomlinson, who was raised in Rogers Park, didn’t play football until his freshman year at Lane. His mother needed to be convinced of the importance of football by Lane coach Rich Rio and mentor Bob Sperling. He would stay home from school to babysit his younger siblings when his mother worked.

By his senior season at Lane, Tomlinson had developed into a highly sought-after recruit. He eventually chose Duke, where he helped turnaround a program and majored in psychology and evolutionary anthropology.

The Lions traded back from the No. 23 pick, acquiring the Broncos’ selection, guard Manny Ramirez, Denver’s fifth-round pick this year and a fifth-rounder last year.

He started 52 games at right guard in college, and was named a consensus All-American last year.

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