Back in my high school glory days, I played wide receiver. I was mediocre at best, but one play where I stood out was on a 25 yard touchdown reception. I ran a five yard out, caught the pass, turned up field and to my surprise there wasn’t a single defender standing between me and the end zone. Managing not to trip, I scored a relatively easy touchdown.
Going back to the sidelines, I expected my coach to congratulate me. Instead, he high-fived a different wide receiver, much more pleased with his effort than mine. I didn’t know it at the time, but my teammate had pancaked one defensive back, cut blocked a second, and a third defender tripped over the guy he cut blocked, paving my way to the end zone.
Long story short, sometimes the most important play on the field isn’t made by the guy with the ball.
If one were to make a highlight reel for Texas Tech wide receiver Devin Lauderdale, surely it would include plays that showcase his top end speed. It would be filled with touchdowns, spectacular catches, and huge gains.
But to do "Laudy" justice, it would also have to include all the times he’s worked his tail off blocking for his teammates, often unnoticed. And usually he doesn’t just block defenders. He destroys them.
I first noticed Laudy’s supreme effort before he became well known to Texas Tech fans. Before any of the aforementioned spectacular catches, Lauderdale was blocking downfield for Justin Stockton against UTEP in 2014. Check it out at the 1:40 mark below. Lauderdale pancakes one Miner, keeps his eyes downfield, and finds another Miner to lay out so Stockton can finish the 75 yard run.
Everyone remembers the guy who scored the 75 yard touchdown. Many may not notice the guy who pancakes two defenders in the process.
Or how about this past Thanksgiving in Austin? Patrick Mahomes threw a pass intended for Lauderdale that landed in the arms of a Longhorn defensive back. Not giving up on the play, Laudy annihilated the defender, popping the ball into the air, then into the arms of Jakeem Grant, who sprints into the end zone for a Red Raider touchdown.
That wasn’t the only time Lauderdale brought the pain against the Horns. At the 30 second mark in the video below, Texas Tech runs a trick play that not only gains big yardage, but energizes the whole team as Lauderdale de-cleats a Texas defender towards the end of the play.
On the screen pass starting at 27 seconds in the video below, Lauderdale again paves the way for Justin Stockton by staying engaged with his defender all the way until Stockton crosses the goal line.
Any player who makes a habit of displaying such effort, especially when it leads to a big play, deserves recognition. Devin Lauderdale is one of the most exciting players on the entire Texas Tech roster, whether he has the ball or not. The next time Justin Stockton is sprinting down the field, keep an eye out for Laudy, and pray that the defender he lays out is okay.