BC teammates ready for NFL

April 21, 2010 - 4:51 pm
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BC's Matt Tennant and Mike McLaughlin may have bled the same colors at the Heights, but their roads to NFL draft weekend have been shaped differently. Start with Tennant -- a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman who was the anchor of BC's line at the center position for three years. It doesn't hurt to have the words "center" and "BC" on a resume, considering the careers that Dan Koppen, Damien Woody and others have put together in the NFL. Draft gurus and mock draft experts have the center going in the third or fourth round, with NFL.com predicting Tennant going 83rd to the Falcons to reunite with quarterback Matt Ryan. Mike Mayock, a former BC player and analyst for the NFL Network, told WEEI.com's Chris Price that Tennant will be a success on the next level. '€œMatt Tennant, I think his best football's ahead of him," Mayock said. "He was an undersized center who'€™s finally getting some weight into that 6-foot-4 frame, I think he'€™s got a chance down the road who can be a pretty good offensive lineman who can play all three positions '€” center and both guards." Tennant said he played some guard at the Senior Bowl, and he believes his strongest suit is being able to adapt to new situations. Even if it means switching from the center position, where he earned All-ACC honors. "I've had three head coaches and I've had four different offensive line coaches. Every year I've played I've had to adjust," he said. "I've had to adjust to a new scheme, a new coach and how he would coach it. I've done things that college players never had to do. "I'm going to be able to go in and pick up the offense like it's nothing. To me, it would be like a normal day at BC. To the other guys, whose coaches have been somewhere for four or five years, it will be a little bit harder to adjust." Tennant said he has had contact with several teams, including the Patriots, Broncos and Bengals. One thing is for certain, though: Tennant, who might be the second-best center in the draft, will hear his name called at some point over the weekend. That same certainty can't be said for McLaughlin. Draft experts have him going in the late rounds or signing as an undrafted free agent. However, the uncertainty has not fazed McLaughlin one bit. "This is a great position that I'm in," he said. "This is what I've wanted to do for so long. It's not a hard thing, but you just don't know where you are going to end up. You wish you could. You wish you knew. But you really don't know." The middle linebacker's draft status might have been hampered by a torn Achilles tendon that he suffered before the 2009 season, but he still managed to start nine games and record 56 tackles, good for third on the team. He said he feels no problems in the foot, and he believes he is 100 percent healthy. McLaughlin is thinking outside the box to find his way on a NFL roster by re-learning a few positions that he excelled at during his time at Woburn High School: fullback and long snapper. Tennant may make a switch to a guard position, but McLaughlin might have to switch to the other side of the ball to find his way to the NFL. "I always thought that I was a good linebacker and thought that I could become a really good linebacker," McLaughlin said. "I'm kind of still on that path. I really love to play linebacker, and I think that's my natural position, on the defensive side of the ball. Then again, if a team wants me to play fullback and they are going to pay me to play fullback, then I'll definitely do that." He is also served as the backup long snapper for BC, and he is touching up on those skills to make himself more valuable to NFL scouts. "I kind of went to the combine with a little bit of a strategy. I really wanted to promote myself, market myself as someone that can do a lot of things," he said. "[Long snapping] is just another thing I can do, and hopefully a team wants me to do it and will pick me up for it."

(Click the video to see how McLaughlin is diversifying his game.)

Mayock said McLaughlin has a chance to be "one of the better special teams players in the league" and McLaughlin agreed with that assessment. "That's how I'm going make a team and that's how I'm going to make an impact," he said. "That's how my head is going into this whole thing." Tennant and McLaughlin's paths may have been different getting here, but there is one thing they have in common: They are both ready to move on to the next step. "I'm excited to get this whole process over and really start playing football again," Tennant said. "It's been a great time and I've met some nice people and everything, but I'm ready to start playing football again. It's time for it." Added McLaughlin: "I'm ready to get it going. Everybody is talking about it. You really can't help people asking questions of where you going to go? So I'm ready to get it going." Whatever happens this weekend, both player's roads to the NFL draft will be over. But their journeys to the NFL are just beginning.
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