EDITOR'S NOTE: Kyle Lauletta was a three-year starter for Richmond and threw for more than 10,000 career yards, with a 64-percent completion mark — and he was named a HERO Sports All American in December. A native of Exton, Pennsylvania, he is now considered an NFL Draft lock, aided greatly by his performance during the week of the Senior Bowl — where he picked up overall MVP honors.
This is the first of a series of diaries Lauletta will do in "as told to" form with HERO Sports senior writer Brian McLaughlin. Lauletta is one of several subjects who will periodically break down what it is like to be an NFL Draft prospect, day in and day out. He is currently training for the NFL Combine in Bradenton, Florida at IMG. Lauletta is represented by Michael McCartney with Priority Sports and Entertainment. Lauletta met with all 32 teams in Mobile.
THE SENIOR BOWL EXPERIENCE
I did not start out well in the game, as people saw. The first play I went in, I was cold and of course they’re putting me in the game for a play and I put a pass behind the running back. But I guess it was almost good to get an incomplete pass out of the way.
I didn't get real nervous or panic, I said to myself that you might only get two more series to play, so make the most of it. The next drive I went in and we ran the ball a couple times for positive plays, then the big play-action play came when (LSU’s) D.J. Chark was open down sideline. All week in practice, that never came open, but it worked in the game.
OXLEY: Top Senior Bowl Performers
Once I got that one touchdown I felt like I was in a rhythm, it felt like playing football at Richmond again. I didn't think about the MVP award at all during the game. It didn't cross my mind until I began to notice all these cameras all around me as time was running out at the end of the game. And I thought, wait a minute, maybe I got it? That was crazy.
I was told, ‘we’re going to interview you on NFL Network’. So many emotions were going through me at that moment. It was so cool. When I was in the game, I had a lot of good guys making plays for me. I didn't feel like I did anything superhuman, just playing football and doing what I love to do. It was even more special for me because I had all my family there, maybe 20-plus family and friends.
Lauletta with a group of family and other fans, following the Senior Bowl (courtesy Kyle Lauletta)[/credit]
THE MVP HONOR
It's huge. My agent recently told me only one FCS QB had won the MVP award before, it was in 1981 (two-time NFL pro bowler and future Cardinal Neil Lomax, out of Portland State). I think Phil Savage did an awesome job of getting FCS players represented in the game. You love to see that, more so than anybody we’re the guys who need to prove we belong.
The Power 5 guys are on TV all the time, watched by millions. For guys like me, it’s a perfect platform. To put us with the big boys, to see how we perform and compete. The scouts knew me, but most people didn’t. More so now, people might see my name more and think, 'hey, this guy can play'. I think I did a little bit to increase my stock, plus with wearing the big red spider on my helmet, maybe that helps the University of Richmond too. Hopefully it can pave the path for future FCS players.
Lauletta threw for 3 TDs and nearly 200 yards to nab MVP honors (Senior Bowl)[/credit]
WHO IMPRESSED YOU?
I would say D.J. Chark from LSU was very impressive and James Washington from Oklahoma State was impressive, and Marcus Davenport from UTSA is a beast. We did a charity event together, and Marcus not only is a great player, but he is a great guy too. Marquis Haynes from Ole Miss was also impressive all week.
There was a teammate I am training with in IMG, Tre Williams, the linebacker out of Auburn, he did well. One interesting thing happened, J.K. Scott, the kicker from Alabama — he came up before the game and said ‘do you mind if do a prayer with you?’ And I said, ‘absolutely I'll do a prayer with you’. So he said a beautiful prayer. Right after that, he tapped me on the chest and said, 'you’re going to do great'.
Lauletta and his Senior Bowl teammates got a chance to visit a school, and he had a blast (courtesy Kyle Lauletta)[/credit]
DURING THE WEEK
The week was interesting, even in practice you get limited reps. You feel like you really need to take advantage of the time when you're in. At Richmond, I would get 70 percent of the reps, whereas in Mobile I was getting one quarter of the reps. So, at times, I’m thinking, man I’ve really got to make it happen on this one pass. It was interesting. You definitely feel like every eye is watching you at all times. They’re watching how you stretch and warm up and how you throw, so you want to make an impression.
I just tried to show that I’m a passer that is accurate and consistent. I do have the arm strength to zip it in there when I need to. The first time I was in practice, I was thinking, man I’m not doing anything to show off my arm strength. But the more I thought about it, I realized that’s not the way I want to think. I just needed to relax, take a deep breath, and take what the defense is giving me.
I think I did well at all three practices. I saw a few reports and a couple people who said I was the best QB the first two days, while others felt like maybe (Western Kentucky's) Mike White or one of the others had the best practices. Overall, I felt like if I took advantage of the moment and played my game, the rest would take care of itself.
CAA brothers (L to R) – Maine's Jamil Demby, Lauletta and Delaware's Bilal Nichols (courtesy Kyle Lauletta)[/credit]
SHAKY START TO THE WEEK
Not everything about the week was picture perfect. We got in Sunday afternoon and had a player’s meeting from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m in the dining room. They walked us through housekeeping items and gave us a few suggestions to help us when interviewing with media, and speaking with scouts throughout the week.
All of a sudden, my stomach started turning, I was nauseous – but I knew it was not from nerves. I realized that I was about to get sick. I think people were probably looking at me strange, staring, but I didn't want to get up because it was our very first meeting.
Right after the meeting ending, I hustled to the restroom, and sure enough there was a scout in there from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who I was scheduled to talk to later that night. I excused myself and explained to him that my stomach was not feeling well. He was really great about it and said told me we could catch up at another time.
My mind is now all over the place. I literally took off running and ran into my room and barely made it to my hotel bathroom before getting sick. Once I was finished, I thought maybe that would be it but I proceeded to get sick every hour until the morning. It would wake me up. It was ugly, and it was horrible between the chills and the sweats. It was not a good time.
My mom just happened to be in (nearby) Pensacola staying with friends, and I was able to get a hold of her to let her know what was happening. She immediately said, ‘I’m coming over now’. She got Pedialyte and did a great job taking care of me. After it finally stopped, they took me to the ER where they ran a bunch of tests and I was able to get an IV. I unfortunately missed some events and was unable to meet with Coach Payton and the Saints, but we have since rescheduled.
It turned out it that it wasn't the flu or anything serious like that, maybe just something I had eaten? I’m not quite sure what it was. The guys who took me to the hospital told me that last year they had taken a player to the hospital and he’d ended up one of the MVPs. When I saw them again after the game, they said, ‘See, we told you this was a sign!’
Thanks for reading!