Kyle Lauletta has always wanted to be in the NFL. Now that dream could become a reality -- in a few weeks he could be drafted as high as the second round in the NFL draft.
If Lauletta is drafted in the second round, it would be the highest drafting in recent University of Richmond history. Barry Redden, a former running back for the Los Angeles Rams, was drafted in the first round as the 14th pick overall in 1982.
Lauletta played his senior season with the Spiders in 2017 and is looking forward to the possibility of playing professionally in the NFL after a successful college career, especially after previously suffering a potentially devastating injury.
After tearing his ACL at the end of the 2016 season, Lauletta took time during the off-season to study and develop the mental aspect of his game, he said. He categorized his injury as the lowest point of his college career in two separate interviews.
“My low would be tearing my ACL,” Lauletta said. “Since I was six, I have never missed a football game for an injury.”
As a Spider, Lauletta threw for more than 3,000 yards in each of his last three seasons. He set Richmond’s all-time records for passing yards: 10,465; touchdown passes: 73; and total offensive yards: 10,651.
Even though these records are a part of his own career, Lauletta emphasized how the team has shaped his accomplishments at UR. Having four different offensive coaches for four years in a row has not fazed him, he said.
“Any time you change coaches, it is our job as players to buy into the coach’s philosophies,” Lauletta said.
Lauletta said he and his teammates had had to adapt to be the best that they could be. Lauletta said he has benefitted from the coaching changes and has been able to learn at a quicker pace.
As a captain, Lauletta took it upon himself to encourage the team to take advantage of what the coaches had to offer, he said.
“I think that being a Richmond Spider epitomizes hard work and dedication,” Lauletta said. “The cool thing about Richmond is that with all that responsibility, you grow up fast and you learn how to manage your time and you learn how to handle adversity and balance a lot of different things.”
The opportunity to become a student-athlete was not something that Lauletta took lightly coming into his freshman year. Lauletta said it had taught him about teamwork and how to sacrifice in order to be a part of something bigger than oneself.
The way that the football team progressed during his senior season says a lot about Richmond athletics as a whole, Lauletta said.
“Kyle was just a great leader and he really just took care of his responsibilities as a student-athlete,” deputy athletic director David Walsh said.
Lauletta’s career proves that Richmond athletics can produce student-athletes of national caliber with the coaching and other support systems that are put in place, Walsh said.
Lauletta said he was thankful for his experience at Richmond, pointing to the athletics as well as the academics as parts of his success.
Redshirt junior quarterback Kevin Johnson expressed how Lauletta was a team player and shared his knowledge while bringing passion to the game. Johnson said Lauletta had taught him to handle media and how to respond to coaches.
Head coach Russ Huesman said Lauletta’s leadership and overall skills were key reasons for the team’s success.
“He did a great job of leading this team and was a fantastic captain for us,” Huesman said.
Huesman highlighted Lauletta’s work ethic and intellect, as well as his play-making ability, as key components of his success.
“I’ve always been a diligent note taker,” Lauletta said. “I take a ton of notes. I would always take notes, not only on the football, but on leadership.”
Lauletta came back from his injury and was able to put up an impressive senior season for the Spiders, culminating in invitations to play in the East-West Shrine Game, the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl and the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Lauletta played in the prestigious Reese’s Bowl on Jan. 27 and was chosen as the game’s most valuable player after throwing three second-half touchdowns, according to ESPN. He completed eight of 12 passes for 198 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown pass to Louisiana State University’s D.J. Chark.
Lauletta said he had been excited to see all the biggest and best players in the country and that the Bowl was more than just the game. There were a lot of meetings, events and practices that were each extremely important, he said.
Lauletta continued to impress after accepting an invitation to the NFL Combine. He posted the quickest 20-yard shuttle of the 19 quarterbacks and posted a 4.81 in his 40-yard dash, which tied for sixth best, according Fox Sports.
Lauletta said the technical tests had been tough because they were tiring. He has been traveling back and forth from his home in Exton, Pennsylvania, to Richmond to attend private workouts set up by different teams, he said.
Lauletta said winning MVP in the Senior Bowl definitely had contributed to the improvement in his draft stock since the end of his senior season, but now he is ready to rest.
“It’s really slowed down, and now I can finally get some time to just take a deep breath and just relax before the draft,” Lauletta said.
The 2018 NFL draft is April 26 to 28. Lauletta said he was anxious yet excited.
“I’m very relieved that most of this is over and just excited to see where I’ll be living in a couple of weeks,” Lauletta said.
Contact sports writer Lindsay Emery at email@example.com. Caroline Queally contributed reporting for this article. Contact Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org.