UNH’s Lauderdale, a Concord native, has sights set on pro football career

  • UNH lineman and Concord native Andrew Lauderdale (75) has dreams of playing in the NFL. Right now, he’s in the process of trying to get seen by as many scouts as he can before the NFL Draft at the end of April. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 3/23/2017 11:27:21 PM

During his first few years at the University of New Hampshire, Concord’s Andrew Lauderdale wasn’t thinking about the NFL. He was just trying to figure out how to get on the field for the Wildcats.

“When I got there initially, I was just like, ‘Wow.’ Compared to New Hampshire high school football, those guys just seemed so huge. I knew I had to step my game up and get in the weight room just to compete with those guys,” said Lauderdale, who played tight end at Manchester’s Trinity High School but was converted to an offensive lineman at UNH. “Once I put on some weight and gained some muscle, that’s when I actually had the idea that I could play professionally.”

That idea blossomed as Lauderdale became a starter as a junior and then earned Third Team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors last season as a senior. More importantly, he heard the NFL was watching.

“Throughout the season I spoke with Coach Mac (Head Coach Sean McDonnell) and (offensive line) Coach (Alex) Miller and they said scouts were looking at me, they saw something in me that they liked,” Lauderdale said. “So I just went with it and I’m trying to make the best of it. I’m trying to avoid a desk job as long as I can.”

The desk-avoidance process started a couple of weeks after UNH’s season ended on Dec. 3 with a second-round FCS playoff loss to eventual champion James Madison. That’s when Lauderdale got back into the weight room and signed with an agent, Shane Costa from Pillar Sports. The next step took Lauderdale to the College Gridiron Showcase in Texas from Jan. 7-11.

According to the CGS website, Lauderdale and the other 172 players at the event were, “selected by a panel of football experts,” and the players got to showcase themselves, “through practices and a controlled scrimmage to scouts and executives from top professional leagues such as the NFL and CFL. The players also attend meetings, practice, perform individual drills, 1 on 1’s, team drills and in many cases have personal interviews with the scouts and executives from these professional clubs.”

The experience affirmed Lauderdale’s belief that he has a chance to make it at the next level.

“I talked to eight or nine teams, so I was like, ‘someone must like me, I might as well give this a shot,’ ” Lauderdale said.

The process continued last week when Lauderdale and UNH’s three other pro prospects – defensive back Casey DeAndrade, running back Dalton Crossan and tight end Jordan Powell – had a Pro Day in Bedford where they went through all the sprints, jumps and lifts that make up the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Andrew Lauderdale (did a really god job). He gained almost 20 pounds. He’s almost 300 pounds now. He ran a 4.9 40,” McDonnell said. “He opened up some eyes there.”

That 40-yard dash time is certainly an attention grabber. There were 47 offensive line prospects invited to the combine and only one ran a faster time than Lauderdale, TCU’s Aviante Collins, who clocked in at 4.81. Lauderdale has been going to Mike Boyle’s Strength & Conditioning in Woburn, Mass., a highly regarded training facility, and believes that work has helped his wheels.

“It’s definitely been awesome there. They helped me a lot with my speed and technique for everything, and I definitely needed that,” Lauderdale said.

Fine-tuning his technique may have quickened Lauderdale’s 40 time, but athleticism has always been his strength and is probably the thing that has attracted the NFL’s attention. His first love was basketball and he said as a boy growing up in Concord, he “wanted to be like Shaq.” He may not have reached that level, but Lauderdale did star on Trinity’s basketball team.

Despite gaining weight at UNH, he maintained his athleticism, which is one of the reasons he earned a spot on the punt team as a sophomore. Yes, his primary job was protecting the punter, but Lauderdale was also agile enough to get down field and help in coverage.

Last week’s snowstorm prevented Lauderdale from showing off that athleticism in front of as many scouts as possible at UNH’s Pro Day. So he, DeAndrade, Crossan and Powell will travel to Hanover on Thursday and take part in Dartmouth’s Pro Day.

“We’ll do the on-field drills, and there will be more scouts there and they can see us in person,” Lauderdale said. “They videoed everything (in Bedford) and they send it out, but it’s better if they see us in person.”

After that, Lauderdale will keep working out ... and keep eating. The former tight end has been on a mission to gain weight for years and he isn’t stopping now.

“I do cardio, but not as much, so I can put on weight faster,” Lauderdale said. “And instead of three main meals, I eat four. They said that would slow down my metabolism, which has been my problem all along. I eat enough, but my metabolism burns it all away.”

He said he will watch some of the NFL Draft, which runs from April 27-29. Of course, Lauderdale is hoping to hear his name called, but he and the three other Wildcats know they will probably need to sign on with a team as undrafted free agents.

“We all hope to get drafted,” Lauderdale said, “but I think the realistic approach to it is that we’re probably going to sign free agent contracts.”

If the NFL doesn’t work out, Lauderdale said he’d be happy to give the CFL a try ... as long as it’s not behind a desk.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosulivan20.)

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