A snappy audition for BC’s McLaughlin
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / March 12, 2010
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Sending your articleYour article has been sent. E-mail| Print| Reprints| Yahoo! Buzz| ShareThisText size – + Boston College linebacker Mike McLaughlin may continue to listen to his father. When McLaughlin wanted to do just about anything else in his free time, his father encouraged him to go out back and practice long snapping.
Over and over, McLaughlin would snap the football against the side of the family house in Woburn. The goal was for him to arm himself with numerous skills, so one day he would be considered invaluable to a football team.
Eventually, he grew to appreciate the drills. And the skill proved valuable at BC during McLaughlin’s sophomore year, when he was asked to long snap in four games.
Now McLaughlin hopes he has the right combination of skills to impress an NFL team. He was one of 33 players from local colleges who gathered at Harvard Stadium yesterday for a combine-like session in front of NFL scouts and team personnel.
While in Indianapolis for the NFL combine, McLaughlin said coaches and scouts repeatedly asked him about his random long-snapping duties. Coaches also were interested in seeing the 6-foot 2-inch, 242-pound McLaughlin play fullback.
“If they want you to do it, you do it,’’ McLaughlin said. “The more things you can do, you make yourself very valuable.
“Long snapping, I can play fullback, running back. I played linebacker my whole career at BC. The more versatile you are, the better chance you have to get on the 53-man roster, which is the ultimate goal.’’
That lesson has been repeated frequently by McLaughlin’s father, also named Mike. He and his brother Joe played at UMass in the 1970s. In 1979, the senior Mike McLaughlin signed as a free agent center with the Patriots. He didn’t make the team but went on to play three seasons in the USFL. Meanwhile, Joe McLaughlin played five seasons in the NFL, spending most of his time with the New York Giants at linebacker.
The more McLaughlin heard his son talk about dreams of playing in the NFL, the more he encouraged him to prepare. As an assistant coach at Woburn High, he emphasized the same message to his son and his teammates.
Growing up, McLaughlin showed he had a knack for long snapping, according to his father. It took some convincing to keep him interested in a job that doesn’t have much glamour.
“There’s no real reward for it,’’ the father said. “Everybody takes it for granted, but when something goes wrong, everybody in the world knows.’’
McLaughlin eventually developed an appreciation for the position, and whenever he had the time, he would practice long snapping. In the East-West Shrine game, McLaughlin received a few chances to long snap. The live action was beneficial just before he arrived for the combine, he said.
In interviews with NFL teams, the topic of long snapping comes up, and each time it does, McLaughlin said, he is thankful for the advice.
“I don’t think he ever believed me,’’ his father said with a laugh.
Once at the combine, McLaughlin said, he was pleased with his performance, but he was happy yesterday to get another chance to add to his résumé.
“I was as tight as can be at the combine,’’ McLaughlin said. “I was really nervous going in there. There’s such great competition, just like [yesterday], there’s a bunch of great football players.
“I think [yesterday] you get a little bit calmer, it’s a little bit more relaxed. You’re in your comfort zone a little bit with your teammates. We had a good time and tried to show these guys what we can do.’’
If McLaughlin had his choice, he would like to prove he can play linebacker in the NFL, but he is open to any position. With each step, his father has remained supportive, and yesterday he offered one last tip for his son:
“Do the best you can and don’t leave anything out there undone. Never have effort be the reason why they say you’re not good enough.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org