by Andy Hilton, recruit757
The NFL Draft has come and gone. The college season is getting ready to ramp up. In recent weeks, fhings have gotten a whole lot busier for Lakendrick Ross.
You may remember the name. Lakendrick, AKA “Blindside”, was an enforcer for the I.C. Norcom Greyhounds. He graduated from Norcom in 2011 and had verbally committed to Morgan State.
Here’s what we said about him in his senior season: “(Lakendrick is) Norcom’s best kept secret. Ross is a long and lean 6-5 305. He has a lot of room on his frame to become a beast of a lineman in college. Lakendrick also plays on the Varsity Basketball team, who won the State Championship in 2010. That work in basketball contributes to Ross’ speed and footwork on the football field.” He was selected as a First Team All-District defensive lineman and as the Defensive Player of the Year in the Eastern District in 2010.
Unfortunately, academics held him back and he didn’t make it to Morgan State. After getting his classwork straight, he hit the field for Virginia University of Lynchburg, a USCAA school of roughly 600 students. That was in 2012.
Lakendrick had a banner freshman year in college, but academics set him back again, causing him to miss the 2013 season. Setbacks have been a familiar challenge.
His mother passed away when Lakendrick was nine years old. He was in a group home while attending Norcom. He worked in addition to going to school. Football has been a steady source of positive male influence for him.
Lakendrick’s best friend at VUL, Keith Lewis, worked out for NFL Scouts and was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round. It showed Lakendrick that real people do make it. Players from small schools can make it. There was enough buzz around Lakendrick’s presence and 6-5 360 pound frame at the workout to give him the encouragement to make the leap. The big man made it official on Wednesday by signing with sports agent Glen Lansky.
“I’ve had 25 or 26 teams call me,” said Lakendrick on Thursday night. “They’ve asked a lot of questions, like if we pick you, who’s coming with you? I don’t have anyone to bring with me. It’s just me.”
Lansky has scheduled a workout for NFL scouts to observe Lakendrick at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth on Monday at 2 p.m. According to Lansky, it’s a tough time of year to get NFL scouts to come out, but five teams are already confirmed for the workout.
“They’re scrambling to get there,” said Lansky. “The biggest concern for Lakendrick is that he’s only played one year of college ball and there’s not a lot of film on him. He’s 6-5 and 360 pounds, and he moves like a 250 pound player. He’s built very proportionately. You can tell he’s been working hard. They’ll be impressed.”
Since the draft has come and gone, the NFL’s Supplemental Draft is Lakendrick’s best opportunity. Not many players get selected however. For each pick made in the draft, an NFL team would sacrifice that same level of pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, plus they’ll have to pay bonus money to the player commensurate with the round that player is picked in.
In 2011, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Prior was selected in the second round of the supplemental draft by the Oakland Raiders. In 2012, Josh Gordon of Baylor was selected in the third round by the Cleveland Browns. No player was selected in 2013. There have only been 42 players selected in 37 drafts since 1977.
That makes getting selected a long shot. Ross was declared ineligible for college football in 2014 and has signed with an agent. If not drafted, Lakendrick is available as a free agent.
“He’s going up against rookies that have been in camp for six weeks,” Lansky admits. “I see him working best as a nose tackle on a team that runs a 3-4. Some might see him as a three technique, but I see him right over the center.”
Teams implementing a 3-4 defense and running short on personnel or using veteran linemen might seen an opportunity with Lakendrick. He’s bigger than some experienced NFL players, and he’s only 21 years old. He wouldn’t have to hit the field immediately.
“If he doesn’t get drafted, we’ll take a couple of days to focus on the teams that will be a good fit,” stated Lansky.
There’s still a plan for him to finish his college coursework. Lakendrick was very specific about it, even explaining that he had planned to take classes this Summer before this opportunity came along. He’s working toward a degree in Sport Management.
The 2014 NFL Supplemental Draft is scheduled to take place on July 11.
For now, Lakendrick can try to enjoy the Fourth of July weekend. His big audition is on Monday. Explosive. Huge. Impressive. That’s what he’s hoping to hear. It all comes back to Portsmouth, the 757, and a huge opportunity.
- Andy Hilton