In the midst of a horrendous 3–9 season for one of the nation’s most illustrious college football programs, the emergence of an overlooked defender has created quite a stir. At 6-foot-1, 295 pounds, Notre Dame’s versatile defensive lineman Trevor Laws was the one bright spot for the Irish this season.
Laws, a fifth-year senior from Minnesota, moved from defensive tackle to defensive end prior to the start of the season and finished with an incredible 112 tackles (53 solo, 59 assisted), eight for a loss and four sacks. Being in the right place at the right time and leading your team and the nation among defensive linemen in tackles is one thing, but producing in a winning cause for a struggling team is another.
In the Irish’s three wins (UCLA, Duke and Stanford) this season, Laws had a sack in each game.
“It seemed like every game he had eight or nine tackles,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis. “A lot of the tackles that he made would have been potentially really big plays if he didn't make the tackle. So not only was he making the plays, but he was preventing some big gainers in the game.”
After the 2006 season, Laws’ senior season, he sat down with Weis to discuss his status as an NFL prospect. After finding out that Weis believed former Irish players DE Victor Abiamiri and DT Derek Landri would be drafted ahead of him, Laws decided to apply for a fifth season.
“I said, well, one advantage you have that they don't have is you have another year available to you if that's the road you decide to go,” Weis said. “I think he's helped the team tremendously, but he's helped himself tremendously as well.”
Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard is sacked by Notre Dame's Trevor Laws.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
A gifted player and an inspirational leader, Laws is also extremely intelligent off the field. This past May, he graduated with degrees in marketing and sociology with a 3.22 GPA. He’s currently enrolled in a graduate studies program at Notre Dame.
Laws is an explosive lineman who is always in position to make a play. He has a great first step and commands double teams in the trenches. He plays with leverage, great balance and wedges between the opposition to create havoc in the backfield. He doesn’t possess great speed, but he has a great motor and displays a burst of speed. He has good hand technique and moves well laterally. He’s outstanding in pursuit and is rarely off his feet.
As good as Laws was in 2007, there are some concerns with his game. He lacks ideal size for an interior lineman and doesn’t have the speed to play defensive end at the next level. He struggles against bigger linemen and occasionally gets lost in the shuffle. He has to work on his overall quickness to be an effective inside presence at the NFL level.
The decision to stay in school for a fifth season paid dividends for Laws. If he entered last year’s draft, he would have been a mid-round selection. But this season, he’s improved his game and versatility and will most likely be a third-round selection.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.