Every year, Pitt makes it a priority to thoroughly scout the WPIAL’s top performers. That is why two weeks ago, linebackers coach Rob Harley initiated contact with Bryce Lauer, a linebacker/center prospect from Franklin Regional High School.
“We’ve been messaging for maybe two weeks, I’d say,” Lauer told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I’ve been Twitter messaging with Coach Harley. … Mainly, he just asked a bunch of questions to get to know me as a football player. He was just asking about the weight room and conditioning. I think he asked what other colleges I’ve been talking to, and stuff like that.”
Lauer, a 6-foot-3-inch, 245-pound junior, is one of the most productive 2-way players in Pennsylvania. An accomplished starter at center since his freshman season, Bryce also broke out on the defensive side of the ball in 2016. In his first full season starting at linebacker, he recorded 139 total tackles (19th best in the state), 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles on his way to earning local and statewide honors.
“I started freshman year at center, and then my sophomore year I started at center again as well. I was a first team All-Conference center. And that’s when I finally got my chance at linebacker like four games in, and I led the team in tackles that year. And then this past season, I got First-Team All-Conference linebacker, and (Pennsylvania Football News) First-Team All-State linebacker.”
Since the recruiter speaking with Bryce serves as Pitt’s linebackers coach, it would be fair to assume the Panthers foresee Lauer playing linebacker in college. However, the junior stated that throughout his conversations with Coach Harley, his projected position remains unconfirmed.
“We haven’t really talked much about that, and recruiting as much,” Bryce said. “But I’d be open for anything, even if it was like defensive line. He talked to me about my past seasons at center as well.”
The relationship between Pitt and Lauer is still new. This weekend, Bryce will attend the Panthers’ second Junior Day hoping to develop his relationship with the coaches, while learning more about the university at the same time.
“I’m pretty excited to see the facilities, the school, [and] just kind of meet the coaches as well,” he said. “See how they run things there. Get a feel for it … I’ll kind of be looking for what opportunities they would give. Going here would be a big opportunity, so that would be as well.
Bryce knows that he can look forward to these things on his visit, thanks to the Junior Day itinerary he received over Twitter.
“It had a list of everything we are going to be doing. Just like people you’re meeting in the coaching staff, like the athletic and academic staff.”
Growing up in the WPIAL does not automatically endear a player to Pitt. As such, I asked Bryce to share his view on the University of Pittsburgh. His answer, though short, relays a clear message.
“Oh, I mean living right outside of Pittsburgh, I’ve got to love it,” he emphatically replied.
Lauer also approves of head coach Pat Narduzzi, citing a specific win from 2016 as an indication of the coach’s success.
“I think he’s done a great job, from what it looks like.” He added, “Big win against Penn State this last season.”
Updated junior film https://t.co/FprFv4nOUY
— Bryce Lauer (@BryceLauer) November 11, 2016
Bryce has yet to receive his first offer, but multiple teams have expressed interest in his talents. One team to establish contact with him in recent weeks is none other than the Panthers’ in-state rival.
“I’ve been talking a lot with Duquesne, Temple, Toledo, Colgate, Buffalo, and then just recently, Penn State.”
For a player strong enough to control defensive lineman from the center position, yet athletic enough to run down ball carriers at middle linebacker over 13 times per game, offers will eventually arrive. And according to Bryce, if the Panthers become one of the teams to extend an offer, they will immediately receive serious consideration.
“If they offered, there would be a very high chance,” said Lauer. “But that’s a lot to think especially only being the first offer, and with all the other people I’ve been talking to. But they would make their way to the top of the list.”