When Trey Lauer laces up his cleats and gets ready for a camp or a combine, he usually listens to the song, “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem.
The song goes, “If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you’ve ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?”
The message resonates with Lauer.
“At these camps you got one shot to make a first impression — one shot to make a play,” Lauer said.
He has to make that first impression because his size might not do it.
At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Lauer, a senior at Mountain Pointe, doesn’t look like a Division I college linebacker. But don’t let that fool you.
Just because he’s smaller, doesn’t mean he can’t play. Last year, Lauer recorded 70 tackles, 39 of them solo; four sacks and 10 quarterback hurries at outside linebacker in head coach Norris Vaughan’s hybrid 3-4, 4-3 scheme.
His numbers were good, but still not many colleges have come knocking down his door for his services. Northern Arizona is interested and he has two offers from Division II schools (New Haven in Connecticut and Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania). His size is the reason why.
“Sometimes I feel like I get overlooked, but also I think it’s due to my position,” Lauer said. “I’m a 5-10 linebacker. No college is really looking for a 5-10 linebacker so when (scouts) come and if they do take a look at me it’s, ‘Well, do you have film at corner(back) or strong safety?’ and I have to say, ‘Well, no, I don’t,’ because I’ve been playing linebacker.”
This year Lauer is taking a few steps back, not in terms of his play but literally. He’ll have his chance to make the highlight film scouts want to see as Lauer moves to strong safety for his senior campaign.
Learning the intricacies of playing a defensive back takes time. There are new calls to make. The keys to look for are different.
Offseason camps like the Blue Chip Football Academy that Lauer recently attended in Pennsylvania, are like showcases for a lot of recruits. For Lauer it’s a learning experience against players with more experience than him.
“When I’m out there I just try to take in all of the information I can,” Lauer said. “And when we go do 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 (drills) actually using what the coaches told me.”
Lauer has been taking what the coaches have been saying to heart. At the Blue Chip Football Academy, Lauer took home Outstanding DB honors, beating other defensive backs who have been playing their positions for years.
Lauer has only been doing it for months and doesn’t think he’s anywhere near his ceiling.
“The part I’m most excited about is the upswing and the potential I have to play at corner,” Lauer said. “Working with coaches more and more I think I’ll get better and better, but I think it was really exciting to come out and beat some guys that are true corners.”
Although Lauer is still learning how to be a defensive back, the transition is coming naturally. Vaughan praised Lauer’s flexibility.
“Trey is one of the most versatile players we’ve got,” Vaughan said. “On offense he can play running back, he can play receiver. On defense he can play outside linebacker, he can play corner, he can play strong safety. He can do just about anything.
“He’s had a great summer. He’s really gotten a lot better, and it looks like we’ll probably play him at strong safety.”
Again, Lauer is still learning a new position, but his time as an outside linebacker is making the transition easier as opposed to moving from middle linebacker.
“He was primarily a cover guy so it’s not going to be that big of a transition,” Vaughan said. “The outside linebacker position is like a strong safety. The transition will be really easy for him.”
The change of position opens the door for Lauer to play at the next level.
“In college he’s definitely going to be a strong safety I would think,” Vaughan said. “He might play some corner, but I think he’d be a strong safety and that’s where most schools are looking at him.”
By moving to strong safety, Lauer is making the most of his one shot. After all, he doesn’t want to let it slip.
• Eric Smith is a junior journalism major at Arizona State University. He is a summer intern at the AFN.