James Laurinaitis plays middle linebacker for the St. Louis Rams. He was a three-time All-American at Ohio State University and took home the Dick Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 2008.
Laurinaitis was born in Minneapolis, MN on December 3, 1986. His father, Joe, once fought as a World Wrestling Entertainment professional wrestler. Laurinaitis starred on the football and wrestling teams at Wayzata High School, which is located on the outskirts of Minneapolis. After putting together an impressive football and wrestling career at the school, he received multiple scholarship offers and decided to sign with Ohio State University.
Ohio State University
Laurinaitis played early for the Buckeyes, playing in all 12 regular season games during the 2005 season. An injury to teammate Bobby Carpenter thrust him into a starting role during a Fiesta Bowl win over the University of Notre Dame, and he became a full-time starter as a sophomore. He ended the 2006 season with a team-best 115 tackles and five interceptions, and he won the Nagurski Award as the nation’s best defensive player while also receiving First-Team All-Big Ten honors. As a junior, he made 121 tackles and two interceptions while winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker and earning All-American distinction. He wrapped up his illustrious college career with 130 tackles during the 2008 season and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
St. Louis Rams
An underwhelming performance at the NFL Combine hurt Laurinaitis during the pre-draft process, and he ended up falling to the St. Louis Rams with the 35th pick in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He became an immediate starter, making 120 tackles and intercepting two passes as a rookie and earning All-Rookie team honors. In five seasons with the Rams, he hasn’t missed a game while eclipsing the 100 tackle mark each year and has made nine career interceptions.
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