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Larry Webster: From Bloomsburg basketball to NFL prospect
By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
December 3, 2012 2:38 am ET
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Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and most recently Jimmy Graham. The NFL has numerous examples of well-known tight ends who starred on the hardwood at the collegiate level before making a splash in the NFL.
But the defensive end position has also had it's share of ex-basketball stars, including Julius Peppers and Connor Barwin to name a few. Looking to add his name to that list is Bloomsburg pass rusher Larry Webster, a prospect to remember for the 2013 NFL Draft.
A four-year starter at center for the Huskies' basketball squad, 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.
And at 6-7 and 240 pounds, the football coaches welcomed him with open arms.
"It felt pretty good to be back out there," Webster said. "I had a lot of fun this year."
Initially the coaches believed he could contribute in pass rush situations on defense, but Webster had loftier goals with a sack and interception in the season opener, his first football game since 2007. He finished the 2012 season with a team-best 15.0 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, ranking among the top-five in Division II in that category. He also recorded a pair of touchdowns, seeing some playing time at tight end on offense.
Webster currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 defensive end for the 2013 NFL Draft and is projected to be drafted sometime on day three. He would be the second player drafted out of Bloomsburg since 1992, joining New Orleans Saints OL Jahri Evans (4th Round, 2006).
A native of Hagerstown, Maryland, Webster played both football and basketball at Elkton High School, but he also participated in AAU and received more looks in basketball, swaying him to play hoops in college. On the basketball court at Bloomsburg, he finished as the school's all-time leader in blocks (175) and was the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Defensive Player of the Year last season.
However, NFL scouts are excited about his future on the gridiron.
"He passes the eye ball test and is an easy kid to like with his athleticism and length," an AFC Scout said.
Although he started the season as an unknown in the scouting community, NFL scouts began to make campus visits to see the athletic defensive end in person.
"It definitely has become a possibility and if the opportunity is there, I'll do whatever it takes," Webster said about the possibility of playing in the NFL. "They (scouts) told me I maybe need to put on some more pounds and get stronger, but they like my height and speed."
As the NFL season winds down and with the NFL Draft picking up steam, Webster is becoming more well-known around the league.
"Certainly, he needs time to develop his technique and grow stronger, but the raw skills make him an intriguing prospect," the AFC Scout added. "Oh, and the bloodlines don't hurt his chances either."
Those family bloodlines are a reference to his father, Larry Webster Jr., who played 11 years in the NFL at defensive end. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third 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. Now a high school coach in Baltimore, the elder Webster enjoys seeing his son follow in his footsteps.
"He likes it, he was proud," the younger Webster said of his father. "As long as I'm doing what I want, he's happy, but I think he likes watching me on the football field."
Some NFL Draft prospects have to shed the "athlete" label, some are tabbed with the "small school" stigma and some have the challenge of trying to emerge from their father's shadow. Webster will have to deal with all three and will need time develop, but with his talented skill-set, Webster will get his chance in the NFL.
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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