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July 6, 2014

Lawrence Virgil working to make the Saints final roster

VALDOSTA — With college and the Valdosta State football team behind him, Brooks County’s own Lawrence Virgil is working hard to make a name for himself in the National Football League.

At 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, Virgil is a defensive end/defensive tackle hybrid that has good speed and body movement, which caught the eyes of many NFL teams during pre-draft workouts.

At VSU, Virgil recorded 130 total tackles (29 for loss), 15.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a safety in three seasons at defensive end.

During the draft weekend, Virgil and his family patiently awaited his name to be called. While Virgil did not hear his name before the draft concluded, his phone line was quickly contacted by a plethora of NFL teams.

The Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts called him with an opportunity to sign an undrafted free agent contract, but through long consideration, Virgil decided to take his chance with the New Orleans Saints.

“I wanted to get drafted, but I was blessed enough to get a chance to come into the league. I was happy to go to the Saints,” said Virgil. “I was checking all the defensive linemen on each team’s rosters and saw that the Saints may have needed some extra help so I chose them.”

After making his choice, Virgil began participating in the Saints rookie mini-camp on May 11 in Louisiana. Virgil took a few lessons he learned at Valdosta State with him.

“I learned to be responsible and to show up on time for everything. You have to show the coaches that they can trust you, and that is what I’ve tried to do,” said Virgil.

Working with the Saints, Virgil added a few pounds from his 287-pound college weight and has been working on numerous things with new coaches Sean Payton and defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

“Right now they want me to stay around 295 pounds,” said Virgil. “Mainly we’ve been working on techniques. Footwork, hand placement and how to get off a block. Johnson is very technical and he loves paying attention to detail.

“Payton is a good coach. He makes sure we all take care of each other. I don’t spend much time with him because he’s an offensive coach, but from what I see, he’s great.”

Most experts note a tremendous difference between the NFL and college, however Virgil stated he doesn’t see much difference.

“I can’t tell much difference outside of the face that everyone is bigger and stronger, and we haven’t even put on pads yet,” he said.

Being a rookie on an NFL team can be tough, but also beneficial, as working with veterans can teach players a lot.

“Cam Jordan is someone I’ve always thought was a good player and now I get to line up with him,” said Virgil. “The veterans are very helpful. They show us what we need to do to get better and kind of put us under their wings.”

A typical day for Virgil at OTAs included a lot of meetings in addition to position specific workouts.

“We wake up around 7 a.m. to eat, then we have special team meetings, followed by defensive meetings, then we go on the field to do a walk through, then we practice, and then we go lift, and end the day with another meeting,” said Virgil.

Virgil is not alone in his goal to make his time with the Saints official. Former teammate Seantavius Jones is also trying to make the cut and Virgil is thankful to have a familiar face in Louisiana with him.

“It benefits us a lot to both be there. We are competing with so many people to make the team, having someone you know like Jones is great because we can talk, hangout and help each other out. We were already teammates so we already have that bond,” said Virgil.

Virgil returns to training camp on July 25, when he and the rest of his Saints teammates will travel to West Virginia to begin camp.

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