Bloomsburg University is a small school tucked away in the mountains of rural North Central Pennsylvania. Here you will find one of the biggest undiscovered gems of the football world, Larry Webster. Webster's father, Larry Webster Jr., played 11 years in the NFL at defensive end. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 3rd round out of Maryland in 1992 and also suited up for the Browns, Ravens and Jets over his career, winning a Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2001. One notable alumnus from Bloomsburg is Pro Bowl Offensive Guard Jahri Evans from the New Orleans Saints.
Division II All-American defensive end Larry Webster had 26 sacks and 29 TFL in his two seasons of playing college football. (Photo courtesy of BloomsburgUniversity)
This Bloomsburg product recorded the 2nd fastest 40-yard dash time among Defensive Lineman at the NFL combine this week. Webster measured out at 6’6” 252 lbs and ran a 4.58. He also had a very impressive vertical jump of 36.5 inches. Larry Webster helped himself at the combine by standing out among the talented group of pass rushers.
He only has two years of college football experience on his resume, but had 13.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, one interception, and 39 tackles last season. The season before that he racked up 12.5 sacks and 16.0 TFL. That’s 26 sacks in two seasons. Not too shabby even against that level of competition! Webster was also used occasionally in red zone situations in college with a pair of touchdowns in his career using his height, length and catching radius to create mismatches against defensive backs. Bloomsburg finished 10-2 this past season losing to nationally ranked #15 West Chester in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Webster was selected to the All-PSAC Eastern Division first team and a Division II All-American.
Larry Webster is an interesting and intriguing prospect. A four-year starter on the Bloomsburg basketball team, Webster had one year of eligibility remaining and decided to join the football team for the 2012 season, a sport he hadn't played since high school. On the basketball court, Webster was named the PSAC Eastern Division Player of the Year for the 2011-12 seasons, finishing as the school's all-time career leader in blocks (175).
His lean, athletic skill-set might be best-suited for the offensive side of the game. Many people around the league believe his best fit in the NFL is on offense as a hybrid tight end that can line up in the slot and help move the chains or a 3-4 OLB where his basketball experience and length could help him in coverage. Here is a video of Larry Webster playing multiple positions vs. Shippensburg:
The NFL has a number of players, like tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, who starred on the basketball court at the college level before making a splash in the league. Larry Webster could be next, but at which position?
But where does Webster prefer to play?
"I prefer defense, but I wouldn't mind either one," he answered. "I'm just used to defense, that's all."
"There were a couple of teams that asked me about tight end," said Webster at the NFL combine. "I wouldn't mind playing tight end."
While he's not as polished as other defensive ends, Larry Webster has an athletic and intriguing skill-set for the next level that is hard to ignore. He displayed excellent quickness, natural bend, and the flexibility to play in space and win with off the edge speed. He looks the part for this position with a tall, long frame and the potential to get stronger. Webster has a good first step burst and changes directions quickly. He uses his long arms to wrap up tacklers and finish. He has the athleticism and range to cover a large area and pursue plays. He has a good work ethic and puts in the time to prepare and get better. As the son of an 11-year NFL veteran, he has the athletic bloodlines and understanding of the NFL process.
He plays hard and is competitive. When he rushes the passer, he shows quickness and speed off the edge and flashes an ability to redirect. He is much taller and longer than anyone he has played against at the Division II level. With his natural traits and abilities, he should be able to make plays.
His NFL Comparison is Michael Johnson, DE, from the Cincinnati Bengals. Although he's not there yet, Webster has the frame and athleticism to develop into a similar pass rusher at the NFL level.
One thing is for sure, Larry Webster will attract more attention after an impressive combine performance. Let’s give the small school player some props.lk and develop on the football field, but he is a good candidate to be a late-round draft pick around the 6th or 7th rounds. Whether it's at tight end, linebacker or defensive end is unclear. He has the potential to develop into an edge rusher, outside linebacker, tight end, or even a good special teams player with his straight line speed in the NFL.