Apr 30, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Editor’s Note: Former University of Richmond quarterback John Laub (’12) guest blogged for CAA Football over the past several months and was recently invited to the Detroit Lions’ rookie minicamp. We chatted with him about the buildup to last week’s draft and what now lies ahead with the Lions’ minicamp set to begin on May 9. Our conversation can be found below, and a link to his blog posts can be found here.
CAAFB: First of all, congratulations. How does it feel to have officially been invited to the Lions’ rookie minicamp?
JL: It feels great to have gotten an invite. Although I didn’t sign an actual contract, it’s still an opportunity. My agent told me that they’ve had numerous players go in with the same situation and get invited to training camp. This is a shot and I’m looking forward to it. Now it’s on me to get them to like what I can do.
CAAFB: Did you have a specific result you were looking for by week’s end?
JL: I was hoping to get an invite from a team. That was the goal – whether it was signing an undrafted free agent contract or getting an invite to a rookie minicamp. I was just hoping for an invite.
CAAFB: As someone who’s been so fully focused on getting his shot at the pros these last several months, talk a little bit about the buildup to last week’s NFL Draft.
JL: I was a little nervous to be honest because you obviously want all of your hard work and training to pay off. So there were some nerves as I sat around watching all the picks, hoping that by Saturday night my phone would ring. I was relieved when it finally did.
CAAFB: You touched on having some nerves, but how did your emotions change as the draft wore on?
JL: On Thursday and Friday I was looking at the draft from a fan’s perspective since I wasn’t expecting to get a call. Every time a quarterback was taken, I updated the QB depth chart for each team. It was less stressful those first two days. On Saturday, I was sitting on my couch from 12 until 8:00, which is when I was in contact with the Lions.
So, I was definitely feeling more anxious on Saturday because it was coming down to crunch time and you want something to happen. Everything really did change over the course of the weekend.
CAAFB: Can you speak to the talks you had with your agent over the course of the week?
JL: As the draft went on, we talked a bit about how there was still a huge cluster of quarterbacks left to be taken on Saturday. He saw it as a good thing because when you get to these rookie minicamps there’s not necessarily a huge difference between how people perceive an undrafted free agent and a sixth-round pick. By the time the fifth and sixth rounds hit, teams are trying to get their stuff together for free agent situations. So I was texting back and forth with him quite a bit. He was talking with teams, and when I got the call from the Lions, I was in touch with him right away. It was a continuous communication process all day Saturday.
CAAFB: Talk about what was said when you got that call on Saturday night.
JL: I got a call from one of the Lions’ regional scouts, Chad Henry. He had actually been in touch with my trainer since I had only signed with my agency three weeks ago and the point of contact that some teams had was my trainer. They called him and he called me and told me what had happened. So I immediately called my agent, who then called Chad Henry.
It was an interesting situation, but I was just really happy to have gotten the call and the invite. The rookie minicamp starts May 9, so I’ll fly out of Philly to Detroit and go through the three-day tryout and try to impress.
CAAFB: Talk a little more about where you were and your emotions when you got the call.
JL: I was with my parents all day on Saturday, and my sister goes to college closer to home and came back to be with us. One of my best friends from back home was with us, too. It was just us, though, and not one of those gatherings you see on TV where guys have 20 or 30 people at their houses. I was just sitting around enjoying the coverage with them and hoping that something would come by the end of the day.
CAAFB: What’s next for your now ahead of the minicamp?
JL: I’m going to keep on getting myself ready – making sure I’m in shape and my arm’s in shape. I’ll work on my drops and footwork a lot. I’ve been in contact with some receivers around the area who I can get together with so I can work on my throwing. It’s just a continuation of my training these past few months.
CAAFB: Richmond was well represented this past week with you getting an invite from the Lions, Kendall Gaskins signing with Buffalo and Cooper Taylor going in the fourth round to the New York Giants. Talk a little bit about these two as well as the Spider program that helped produce the three of you.
JL: I texted Cooper right away. I’m sure he was getting bombarded with texts. I was ecstatic for him. I was in contact with Kendall right after that, texting back and forth with him to make sure he let me know when he got something. There was no way Kendall wasn’t going to get an opportunity.
I’m really happy for both guys. It’s a credit to the type of person you find at Richmond – that hardworking, focused type of person who’s going to set goals and try to achieve them.
CAAFB: I’m sure many people have reached out to you since getting the call. What kinds of advice and feedback have you received over these past several days?
JL: It’s been a lot of encouragement and well wishes. Some have told me that this is just the beginning and I’ve got to now go out and prove my worth. I know that nothing is promised or guaranteed; that this is simply an invite to the rookie minicamp. So now everything’s on my shoulders and I’ve got to go out and perform.
CAAFB: I think you’d be the first to admit that your road to getting to where you are today wasn’t always the easiest given that you played backup for a number of years at UR and then suffered a season-ending injury midway through what was a breakout senior season. Talk about how this journey has shaped your perspective today.
JL: One of the biggest things I’ve gained from all of this is without a doubt the ability to handle adversity. With the number of coaching and offensive changes and the injuries I’ve had – all the ups and downs – it’s definitely helped me deal with adversity.
It’s also taught me to work that much harder to achieve the goals I’ve set out to achieve. Sometimes people set lofty goals but don’t want to put the work in to achieve them. It’s helped me out immensely with respect to my work ethic and setting goals that I know I can achieve.
CAAFB: What advice would you now give others aspiring to get a call like you did on Saturday?
JL: You have to be focused and very purpose-driven. It goes back to that old adage that you can do anything you put your mind to if you’re willing to put the work in. It’s just a matter of staying focused and never wavering from the path that’s going to get you to that end result.
CAAFB: Lastly, can you reflect on everything you did to put yourself in this position these past several months and your mindset now that you’ve taken that next step to achieving your dream?
JL: Outside of staying focused and purpose-driven, you really have to enjoy the process. What I’ve done to train these past several months hasn’t been easy, but I’ve enjoyed it. This opportunity to prepare for the draft and free agency comes around once in a lifetime. You really just have to enjoy the process and make sure you appreciate the experience that you’ve been fortunate enough to go through.
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