Senior Bowl week is the final time roughly 140 college prospects put on pads before they're drafted. For some, like University of New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube, it's the first time lining up against Power 5 competition.
"Getting this invite was unreal," said Laube, who played for the National Team coached by Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich. "The 10 best backs in the country come to this game and to be recognized as one of those 10 backs, it's just a dream come true. All the things that I've worked on for my whole life, it's kind of fulfilling now and getting that recognition is so cool.
"I think you see my film and a lot of people think coming from a small school that the speed of the game and talent isn't that good. They said maybe I was fast, but not fast enough for the NFL and this type of skill. But showing [scouts] that I am fast, I am explosive, I do have great hands, I can win my one-on-ones and matchups with anyone. That's what I want -- to show I belong."
Laube is one of many small-school prospects over the years who started their pre-draft process in Mobile, AL. Notable Senior Bowl alumni who did not go to a Power-5 school include WR Terrell Owens (Tennessee Chattanooga), RB Brian Westbrook (Villanova), DL Christian Okoye (Azusa Pacific) and OL Ali Marpet (Hobart).
Laube (5-9, 210) has heard several player comparisons including another small-school prospect -- RB Danny Woodhead (5-8, 204), who signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2008 out of Chadron State. Woodhead, a dual threat out of the backfield, did not compete in the Senior Bowl but finished his 10-year NFL career with 2,238 rushing yards (15 touchdowns) and 2,698 receiving yards (17 TDs).
"I've heard Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Danny Woodhead, James White, all versatile guys and threats in the receiving game," Laube said. "I think I've molded my game around that."
In the three practices leading up the 75th annual game, Laube, who led the FCS in all-purpose yards each of the last two seasons and totaled 33 touchdowns, lined up at running back, receiver and returner. He won nearly, if not, all his 1-on-1 matchups and caught the eye of scouts and media in attendance.
"I know a couple of scouts said they prefer me in the slot," he said. "I want to be on any team any way possible. If that's receiver, running back, special teams, if I'm able to show I'm a running back and a receiver, screw it."
Before holding nine UNH records, Laube was the star of Long Island's Westhampton Beach High School. He ran for 2,680 yards as a senior and co-won the Hansen Award in 2017 with Jets TE Jeremy Ruckert, given to the best player in Suffolk.
Despite being raised in Jets country, Laube followed his father's and brother's footsteps and rooted for the Steelers. His favorite players included LB LaMarr Woodley, LB James Harrison and two skill players who traded black and gold for green and white – WR Santonio Holmes and RB Le'Veon Bell.
The Jets have an all-star RB in Breece Hall, but general manager Joe Douglas has selected a back in each of his four drafts. What would it mean to Laube, whose next stop is training in Fort Myers, FL, to continue his football career for his hometown team?
"Being able to stay home and live my dream back home would be so awesome," he said. He added: "You see a lot of big-time lacrosse players, but there's not a bunch of football players that make it out and get to the NFL. I think when we see a Long Island kid make it through, especially go to the Jets, you become a huge fan again and you kind of have the whole state and Island around you."