Sports, Football

At Pro Day, Kuechly Is Strong Again

Yesterday, Alumni Stadium played host to a local area Pro Day with scouts from 27 NFL teams. The main attraction was former Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly, who finished his career as the program’s leader in tackles, spent the week at BC after training in Florida for the past three months. He’s been gaining considerable attention after his strong performance at the NFL Combine, which was partially a result of intensive training at the IMG Football Academy.

At the Pro Day, Kuechly worked mostly on speed, reaction, and coverage drills. He led all the drills, often providing an example for the other athletes. One notable aspect of the day was that Kuechly’s drills were conducted by Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Mike Caldwell. The Eagles have been a team linked to the BC standout since he committed to the draft.

Due to his solid performance at the combine, Kuechly did not participate in any timed drills. However, he was able to impress all scouts with his size, speed, and athleticism throughout the workout.

“I thought it went pretty well,” he said. “All we did was position drills, and they went pretty smoothly. We had about four guys in our group, so they worked us a little bit. I felt pretty smooth. A lot of the stuff I had done before, so it wasn’t anything too new. There were a couple of different things that were variations of some things that I had done. I think overall it went pretty smoothly.”

Some questioned Kuechly’s motivation for attending the Pro Day, due to his impressive combine numbers. For the Cincinnati native, the reason for returning to Alumni was easy.

“Just to keep working,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you have to do what you need to do. For me, that’s going through drills and doing the best you can. I’ve been getting prepared for the last couple of weeks down at IMG, since the combine, just working on different drops and stuff that we anticipated doing up here, and I think it’s just that you have to go out and show what you can do in this position with specific drills.”

While many consider Kuechly to be a definite first round pick, he has not been overwhelmed by the hype surrounding his name.

“It hasn’t been too bad so far,” he said of the pressure. “I’ve kind of been secluded down there in Florida. The combine was kind of a little bit of an experience. You could say that was a little bit of a fishbowl. Other than that, it hasn’t been too bad yet.”

For Kuechly, the toughest part of the whole draft process has been the waiting. While he’s spent the majority of his time training for the combine and then his pro day, he will now be forced to wait on teams to bring him in for individual workouts.

“It’s the waiting game,” he said of this point in the process. “You’re down to Florida. Then [you’re] up to Indy. Then you’re back down to Florida. And now I’m up here. And then I have to go to Cincinnati and visit places, so it’s kind of all over the place. Now that the combine is over and Pro Day is over, I just have to sit back and wait.”

The next few days will see some movement for him, but his schedule remains uncertain.

“I’m down to Carolina [Thursday], and then from there we have a couple that are maybes right now. Not a whole lot right now, like I said, but it’s one of those things that stuff kind of pops up, and you have to go with it. Right now, I know for sure I’m going down to Carolina [Thursday].”

One figure seen on campus in recent weeks has been current New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich, a former teammate of Kuechly. Kuechly said that he has been fortunate to have the mentorship of his friend throughout the whole process.

“I think I learned a lot more [from him] now that things are kind of over [at BC],” he said. “There’s different things I learned from him my freshman year. He wasn’t around as much, but when he was around he definitely helped me out. He sat me down before my first game on a Friday. I actually watched film with him when I was a freshman. When I was a sophomore, I played with him.

“Then this year he talked to me a lot about where he was after his junior year, and whether he would stay or leave, because he was kind of in the same situation. Mark taught me a lot of things in football, and then with the past couple of months kind of transitioning, I was able to give him a call, bounce some questions off him, and work from there.”

While lessons from coaches and players are great, Kuechly has relied heavily on his instinct and preparation. His measurements are where they need to be, but the thing that makes him stick out is his nose for the ball and ability to break down plays on the fly.

Although it is uncertain where Kuechly will land, one thing is certain: he is going to be an NFL rookie next season. He will leave the comfort of being the top player on the Eagles’ squad, and return to rookie status.

“It’s going to be good. It’s going to be a challenge. Again, kind of at the bottom again, like my freshman year. It’s one of those things where you just kind of have to take in everything. You just want to soak in what everyone’s telling you. I’ll have to talk to the older guys who have been there before, and I’m just going to base it off that. But, back down to the bottom. You have to work your way back up.

“They can teach you so much, but sometimes you just have to go out there and play football. Sometimes, I try not to think too much when I’m out there. I just try to go out there and have fun and just get to the ball. That’s kind of my goal: just get to the ball and make something happen.”


March 21, 2012