During his time as a student-athlete at New Hampshire, running back Dylan Laube was truly a do-it-all talent.
Laube concludes his tenure with the Wildcats having run for 2,773 yards with 29 touchdowns, having caught 171 passes for 1,791 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns as a pass-catcher, and adding 4 total touchdowns as a kick and punt returner. New Hampshire truly utilized him in a large variety of ways, but the mission was simple: get him the ball, and watch him work his magic.
Now that his collegiate career has come to a close, Laube has his sights set on the NFL. Windy City Gridiron spoke with Laube about his upcoming Senior Bowl appearance, his record-breaking career, running routes out of the backfield vs. running them out of the slot, and more.
JI: Congratulations on your invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl. What does that mean to you, especially as a small-school running back?
DL: It’s definitely a dream come true for me. Especially what you were saying, from a small school, I knew you won’t see a lot of guys getting invited to the Senior Bowl in the first place. It’s cool, because now I get to represent all of FCS football. [I’m someone who] represents UNH, but I’m also kind of representing the whole country. so it’s, It’s cool just to embrace that and, once again, it’s a dream come true for me to be invited. It’s cool, because I get to show everyone how good the FCS level truly is.
JI: Watching you on tape, the biggest thing that stands out to me is the versatility; you can run out of the backfield, catch out of the slot and return, all at a high level. What goes into developing that level of positional flexibility?
DL: I’ve embraced that since I was called up to varsity freshman year of high school. I embraced I was going to be on the field every way I could: on defense, offense, receiver, running back, safety, linebacker, special teams. I was everywhere. I just want to keep playing; I hate taking snaps off, so for me, if there’s any way I can help my team, I’ll say, “hey, just get me the ball.” I like to embrace that role, like, “hey, this year we’re maybe more of a passing team, so if we get you in space, out wide to the [linebacker] one-on-one, it’s going to be fun to watch.” That’s [what I] feel like who I am as a player. I never look at myself just as a running back, just as a receiver, just as a specialist. I just see myself doing so much all the time, so once again, I keep saying I just embrace that role as that utility guy.
JI: Do you prefer running routes out in the slot or in the backfield?
DL: That’s a good question. To be honest, I like it more out [in a receiver alignment]. As I’m the backfield, the only time you’re not going upfield, you’re getting jammed in the backfield. You might have protection first; there’s so much stuff, there’s so much chaos coming out that backfield. While you’re in the slot, you really only have that defender in front of you in man-to-man. You just got to find that gap to get yourself open. It lets you get more leverage, because you almost have more time, and you’re more clear-headed like in the slot, and if you’re in the backfield, it sets up so much chaos back there.
JI: A lot more teams seem to be putting their running backs out in a wide receiver alignment.
DL: It makes sense to me, because if it’s man, then you probably have a [linebacker] on you, so when you get out in space and you get that [linebacker] on you, you should win every single time. It helps you so much, because if you’re a one-on-one with that ‘backer, they aren’t very comfortable out there, so it definitely helps.
JI: You’ve broken several records in your football career, from holding New Hampshire’s single-game receiving yards record at 295 to your Long Island high school single-season rushing record of 2,680 yards. How do you stay humble and not let those records get to your head?
DL: I take it one thing at a time. I’m not like, “hey, I have to get 300 yards on purpose.” I think we have a game plan, and I’m just trying to do my job every single play at once. It’s not just me, either; it’s my quarterback, it’s my receivers, the tight ends, the offensive linemen. There’s so much that factors into it. It’s our coaching and what’s going on...what I’m trying to do every single play is just do my job, and I play my game. I think, once you know this, all the success will come. At the end of the day, of course, I have goals at the beginning of the year, and you go back to watch film and reflect on the game, but once that whistle blows, it’s game time, so it’s just one play at a time for me.
JI: What do you like to do outside of football?
DL: Outside working out and stuff [that has] nothing to do with speed training, the two biggest things that I do is stay in touch with my friends and play Xbox. I think every kid around our age likes Xbox. But you know what I picked up, because my parents moved to Florida, is pickleball. It is so fun. It’s a fast game. It’s quick, and it’s a sport that anyone can play. If you’re older or younger, it does not matter whatsoever. I’ve had older people beat the crap out of me (laughs). It’s a common thing like, “damn, I was so bad.” It’s a life skill and practice. It’s a fast game, and anyone can play it, too, so it’s cool.
JI: On a scale of 1-10, how good at pickleball would you say you are?
DL: That’s the thing: if you don’t play the game, every single day...so, my parents and my brother played every single day, and when we first started out, I was probably the best of my family. [But they played] every single day, and I go back to school, I have a season, and I kind of stopped playing. I try and pick it back up, and they are just beating me every single time, and it’s so frustrating. That’s a sports like tennis or something like that, where you had to practice it. They just play every single day, and I’ve seen who they’ve played against, and they played some really good competition. I’m an athlete, so I would say I’m probably like a 4 or 5. I can compete with people, but the thing is the pros and people that could actually play just beat me out. I mean, it’s still fun.
JI: Let’s say I’m an NFL general manager. What would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?
DL: I think you’re getting a competitor, first of all, someone who works their butt off. Every single day, I’m a person that, I’ll put my head down and go. I think [a lot of] people don’t take criticism well, and they don’t learn. For me, I always try to learn and grow in the game that I love: football. I’m always trying to grow, especially as I move on to the next level. I’m trying to grow, I’m trying to get better, so you will get that person like, if you take me, I promise you: I will get better and better as time goes on. Also, with my game, as we said earlier, like I’m a versatile player. I can play on special teams, I can play an offense, and if I have to, I’ll play on defense. I can play any position, so I’m not a one-dimensional player. I can learn any, any position possible, so I’m that versatile player, and I think that’s teams need, especially in the NFL now: a player that can play on multiple things. That’s my skill set, and that’s what I bring to the table.