The linebacker from Minnesota jumped to stardom based on an outstanding game in 2006 at No. 2 Texas then spent three seasons leading the Buckeyes in tackles while the squad made it to BCS games each of those years. Laurinaitis never bragged or showboated on the way to winning Nagurski and Butkus Awards during his career.
Now, he has to do things the right way, no matter how tedious, off the field as he prepares for the next step in his life and career, the NFL draft.
As one of the former Buckeyes preparing for the draft – and its related preparatory workouts such as the NFL Combine and Ohio State's pro day – Laurinaitis spends much of the day getting ready to deal with what will become an extended job interview in which both his mental and physical abilities will be tested ad nauseum.
It can be tough but rewarding work.
"It's all part of the process, and it's basically a three- or four-day job interview," Laurinaitis said of the upcoming combine. "You just get a bigger bonus off the bat, I guess. It's exciting. You have to go through those pains, you have everyone touching you, everyone giving you a physical and examining every little bone in your body.
"You have to be ready for everything that comes your way, and I'm mentally prepared for that at this point."
The combine, the four-day event sponsored by the NFL featuring many of the best players in the country vying for attention from pro scouts based both on their workouts and their in-person interviews, is set to start Wednesday in Indianapolis with workouts running Saturday through Tuesday. Ohio State's pro day, should Laurinaitis choose to take part, will probably be staged in early March.
Laurinaitis, a probable first-round draft pick, can't wait for those events to see if he can move up after a slight downturn in draft status despite a sterling senior season.
"I'm anxious right now," he said. "I'm sure everyone will get nervous once it gets closer once it gets closer. I'm not nervous yet. I'm having classes and a normal schedule. It's kind of kept me down. I'm not paying attention to anything, really. It's a big opportunity. I'm more anxious to get out here and show what I can do and prove I have nothing to hide and I'm ready to go show everyone what I'm about."
He might be ready to get done with what is now a tough routine as he prepares both for his future and to graduate in March with a degree in communication.
Laurinaitis said a usual day begins at 7 a.m. with breakfast and also makes a lunch because of how much he has to eat on a daily basis with what the workouts take out of him. Class, training and body maintenance, such as massages and cold tubs, take up the rest of his day until the late evening.
"It's crazy. I'm constantly busy, usually 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., it seems like, before I'm even trying to get after my homework," Laurinaitis said. "I'm going to graduate in March. I'm not saying it's going to be exactly pretty, but I'm going to graduate."
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock previously told BSB that Laurinaitis can play all of the positions in a 4-3 defense after he spent three seasons as Ohio State's middle linebacker. The Hamel, Minn., native agrees with that contention, pointing to the fact that his three years of playing in Ohio State's nickel and dime defenses shows he has the mobility and skill to play inside or out.
"In the 4-3 I can play all of them," Laurinaitis said. "3-4 is a little different because the outside rushers are guys like (Pittsburgh Steelers) James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, lineman types that are athletic and can stand up. But I feel like I can play all three of the 4-3 linebacker spots and do them all. I think over my career I proved that I can cover the pass well. Whatever a team needs me to do I'll do it."
Laurinaitis, widely believed to be the No. 2 middle linebacker by most analysts including those with Scout, added that he is staying near his playing weight of 240 pounds unless he is instructed to do otherwise once he is drafted.
"I think that's a smart idea. They've seen me the way I'm going to be when I play," Laurinaitis said. "If I get drafted by a 3-4 team and they're like, ‘OK, we want you to be 255, I can be at 255 in three weeks because it's not hard for me to gain weight. I've always been able to keep my weight at 240 or 45 because that's where the coaches wanted me here. I'm able to adapt to whatever."