The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

Former offensive linemen share experiences of life after football

The names Connor Lanfear and J.J. Gustafson won’t be spoken in Kyle Field this season, but their ties to A&M remain strong.
Lanfear and Gustafson, both former A&M offensive linemen, returned to Aggieland on Sept. 21 as part of the Run & Gun Tour.
As part of the tour, the pair are midway through a five-month road trip in which they hunt at water fowling destinations around the country. The tour is in collaboration with Yeti Coolers, Rig ‘Em Right Waterfowl and Sitka Gear.
The duo got the opportunity to drive the bus after submitting an audition video in response to an Instagram ad.
Gustafson said his favorite part of the tour is meeting people at the retail events the tour stops at.
“We like to tell cool stories, take really cool video, take really cool pictures, and we just love to hang out with somebody interesting,” Gustafson said.
Lanfear finished his tenure with the Aggies last season. He said it was good to be back in the city that gave him so much.
“Being a former player is bittersweet, especially because I just got done playing last year,” Lanfear said. “Coming back through College Station, it’s hard to describe. [It’s] an array of different feelings; it’s almost overwhelming.”
Lanfear said the one thing he misses most about playing college football is the relationships that are built in the locker room.
“There’s days I miss it, and more than anything, I just miss my teammates,” Lanfear said. “I miss the guys more than anything else. The guys in that locker room, there’s no bond like it.”
Gustafson may not be a familiar name to many, as he only played two seasons with the Aggies before an injury forced him into an early retirement, but he said he is responsible for helping thrust former 12th Man Cullen Gillaspia into the spotlight.
“I used to have really long hair,” Gustafson said. “Before Cullen Gillespia had long hair, he copied my long hair and if he says anything different, he’s a liar. I used to bang my head pretty aggressively on kickoff, and we used to get on the Jumbotron every once in a while. My mom really liked to watch that happen.”
Lanfear, on the other hand, cemented himself as a fan favorite with his down-to-earth personality. He played in 43 games for the Aggies.
Lanfear’s final game at Kyle Field was one to remember, he said. The Aggies took on LSU on Nov. 24, topping the Tigers 74-72 in a historic seven-overtime thriller. He said that game is his favorite that he played in.
“It has to be — what else would it be?” Lanfear said. “It couldn’t have been a better ending to my football career at Texas A&M University.”
A knee injury suffered against Mississippi State in 2016 ended Lanfear’s sophomore season, and it has affected his path since, he said.
“I played my guts out, got injured, wasn’t able to play the way I used to and, ultimately, my senior season wasn’t what I thought it would be,” Lanfear said. “I’m glad I stuck it out with those guys and didn’t retire and kept on playing. It was just a storybook ending to a great career and a heck of a time. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending — I really couldn’t.”
Though the former players aren’t pursuing careers in football due to their respective injuries, both Lanfear and Gustafson keep a love for the game, and they said they’re expecting great things from the A&M football program with A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher at the helm.
“I think he’s certainly doing a good job and it’s right for people to have [high] expectations of him,” Lanfear said. “He’s a great coach and [in his] first year we beat LSU, which is something we haven’t been able to do since we entered the SEC. He’s a hard coach to play for, but he’s going to get the most out of you. He knows how to coach his players, and I think he’s beating the expectations.”

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