Oct. 3, 2013
by Jerome Boettcher
When fullback Fitz Lassing started looking at colleges, his parents offered him sage advice.
"Talking to my parents through the whole process they were like we don't want you going to a school for football that you wouldn't go to without football," he said. "This was going to be part of it - the academics."
A 4.0 GPA student at Montgomery Bell Academy in in Nashville, Lassing takes his education seriously. That could be determined by looking at his final list of college choices - Harvard, Stanford and Vanderbilt.
Entering his fourth and final year at Vanderbilt, his quest for excellence in the classroom hasn't wavered. The economics major holds a 3.9 GPA, earned the squad's highest GPA and academic average awards the last two years and has made the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll three times.
In September, his academic achievements received attention once again as he was nominated for the National Football Foundation's National Scholar-Athlete Award.
"It is awesome to represent this team," he said. "It has a bunch of really smart guys on it. Being nominated is a huge honor. I think (being a scholar-athlete) is about balancing. You have a lot of demands placed on you here both academically and athletically. Balancing your time, balancing your commitment being able to work it all out it is kind of a testament to all the work all these guys put in, trying to be the best in both arenas."
After receiving straight A's and a 4.0 GPA at MBA, Lassing is nearly pulling off an unblemished mark in college.
A row of A's scattered across his transcript except for two unwanted - at least to Lassing - B-pluses. The culprits? Roman civilization and human sexuality, the latter causing Lassing to laugh at himself.
"I slipped up on the last test," he said. "I thought it was going to be easy. Turned out it wasn't."
An admitted perfectionist, Lassing said receiving an 89 in Roman civilization also bothered him because it was a summer class. But he said the intense lecture, two hours a day every day, provided an "information overload."
The 22-year-old is continuing a Vanderbilt legacy in his family. Six relatives, including his father and grandfather, attended the university. Lassing is scheduled to receive his diploma in December. His graduation date actually exceeded his expectations, leaving him uncertain of the next phase of his life. He hopes to land an internship in the spring and could see himself working in finance, real estate, investment banking or staying associated with sports.
On the football field, he has played in every game but two in his career. A former tight end, he's found a niche at fullback. Even though he hasn't collected eye-popping statistics during his career - 11 catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns with one rush for 25 yards - he takes pride in helping his teammates. "Blocking for Zac Stacy, the all-time leading rusher, that kind of speaks for itself. It is an honor to block for guys like that," he said. "We have guys this year who are going to do good things and set records too hopefully. It is an awesome to be part of all that."
Lassing will leave Vanderbilt with not only a prestigious degree but knowing he contributed to a remarkable turnaround with the possibility of three straight postseason appearances. Looking back, he couldn't have been more pleased with his decision four years ago - he received the best of both worlds.
Former Vanderbilt National Scholar-Athlete recepients:
Hunter Hillenmeyer, linebacker, 2002
Andrew McCarroll, linebacker, 1989
Douglas Martin, wide receiver, 1974
Wade Butcher, offensive end, 1961