HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – If the Rams couldn't write a better script than winning the Super Bowl in their home stadium, the same could perhaps be said for UCLA defensive back Quentin Lake.
Lake, who grew up in Orange County and also starred at Mater Dei, will be staying close to home after the Rams selected him with the 211th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
"It's destined," Lake said during his video conference following his selection. "I just think especially me, being a kid from Southern California and me going to UCLA, and then me playing for the Rams in LA, it's just meant to be."
While Lake was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his UCLA bio lists Irvine, California as his hometown – where the Rams have held training camp every year since returning to Los Angeles, with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He had always been following the team, but even moreso this past season.
"I had went to a couple games, actually, and I saw the culture and the environment that they had, and I kind of fell in love with it," Lake said. "But I had definitely been keeping tabs on the Rams for awhile. Especially being at UCLA, being in LA, you know, you don't really have a choice but to follow the Rams."
Lake's senior year at Mater Dei overlapped with the Rams' first season back in Los Angeles, and this past year – capped off with the Super Bowl LVI victory – overlapped with his final season at UCLA. Over that time, the Rams added key pieces and stars, most recently highlighted by adding veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner to a stalwart defense featuring All-Pros Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
"Honestly, I think it's going to elevate my game," Lake said of getting the chance to team up with them. "Those guys, they do everything to the 'T.' Super technical, obviously take their job seriously, so for me, it's like, you look up to them, but it's also a challenge. You're trying to do what they did and live up to the path that they made, and I think that's awesome for me coming in for me as a young guy. You see what they did, they laid the groundwork for the organization. It's just going to be awesome being around super high-caliber guys."
By getting drafted, Lake is following in his father Carnell's footsteps. Carnell was named to the NFL's All-Decade team of the 1990s after a standout 12-year career in the league as a safety and cornerback, spending 10 of those 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I'm glad I've had a father figure like that because he definitely laid the groundwork," Lake said. "Although I am kind of following his footsteps in terms of going to the NFL and playing in the NFL, I think the biggest thing for me is now I have the privilege to form my own legacy."
And he'll get to do it not too far removed from home.
"Man, it feels great," Lake said. "Not too far home, so it's not that big of an adjustment going to a new place. I'm super excited to stay in L.A., stay within a familiar environment. It's awesome. It's what I wished for."