Size: 6-foot-2, 220 pounds
Hometown: University Heights, Ohio
School: Cleveland Heights
Committed: December 9, 2012
Other Offers: Bowling Green, Kansas, Cincinnati, Temple
Thoughts on Signing With the Golden Gophers
"It's a blessing. Where I come from, this is like winning the lottery. It's a tremendous blessing for me and my family and I'm just ready to step in and help my team contend in the Big Ten."
Prep Career Highlights
As a sophomore, he had 65 tackles and 6 sacks on defense at linebacker. Last season Laster recorded 70 tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles. As a wide receiver, he had over 600 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Coach Tracy Claeys' Take
"The thing that has us excited about De'Niro is the fact that he's a big body. We keep the same athleticism at linebacker but we've added a lot more size there. He has the ability to play to the field or in the box with his length. He played offensive and defensive so he's very talented. I feel like he'll increase our athletic ability at linebacker and give us some good size."
WHAT ARE LASTER'S STRENGTHS? First off, this is the big, fast, athlete that college recruiters covet. Laster has the measurables people are looking for, and will need to make the step from prospect to producer with Minnesota. He has the frame to add 15-pounds of muscle and still keep his speed, if he is willing to dedicate himself in the weight room. Laster certainly passes the eye test with ease, and has impressed at every camp or combine he has attended.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS? I believe some schools might have been put off by the lack of consistent production, but there may be valid reasons for that. Laster has played all over the field in high school, at tight end, wide receiver and linebacker. He also transferred to Cleveland Heights from Shaker Heights after his junior season, and there was a small adjustment to a different scheme. My feeling is once Laster is able to concentrate on one position, and stop being moved around so much, he will flourish as a player.
WHAT ARE THE INTANGIBLES? Laster is a player that feels slighted by the lack of bigger offers, and I can see that fueling his fire at Minnesota. He's always been regarded as a high-character individual at both high schools, and has been a leader at both places. Laster works out in Cleveland with Raw Talent Sports, and director Mark Harris raves about his work ethic and determination to get better. I've known this kid since he was a high school sophomore, and always regarded him as a Big Ten football player.
WHAT DOES HE BRING TO THE LINEBACKER POSITION? For starters, Laster has size and speed, and that's a good place to start for a linebacker. He hasn't really played the position a lot and will need to be taught how to drop into coverage, but he has the skill set to succeed. Laster might need a year to learn the nuances of the position, but he should be able to contribute on special teams as a true freshman.
High School Highlight Video