Silver Bluff grad DeMarcus Lawrence grew up cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, and now he’s about to suit up for them on Sundays.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’m mostly just everywhere right now.”
The 6-foot-3, 251-pound defensive end out of Boise State was selected with the No. 34 pick overall Friday in the NFL Draft. The Cowboys even traded with their NFC East rivals, the Washington Redskins, to move up 13 spots in the second round to take Lawrence, which also cost them a third-round pick.
“That means they like me a lot,” Lawrence said of the move. “They knew that’s the spot they needed to be in.”
Lawrence, who went to Butler Community College in Kansas before arriving in Boise, first gained attention by national draft evaluators after his 2012 campaign. As a redshirt sophomore, he racked up 13 tackles for loss and 9½ sacks.
Noted for his speed and aggressiveness rushing the passer, Lawrence took it up a notch from even that level for his 2013 season, though. Lawrence was in the top 15 nationally with 10½ sacks, and his 20 tackles for loss to go with 72 total tackles were good for sixth in the nation.
“We think a lot of him as a player and the skill set that he brings in, the traits that he has to play right end for us,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said in a news conference Friday evening.
His best game of the 2013 season came on Oct. 19 against Nevada, when Lawrence notched 3½ sacks as part of a six-tackle effort in a 34-17 win over the Wolfpack.
“I think the No. 1 thing is explosiveness,” said Silver Bluff coach Al Lown about his former player’s pass-rushing ability.
“He can really come hard off the edge and put some pressure on the quarterbacks.”
Lawrence marks Lown’s fourth former player to reach the NFL after Corey Chavous (second round by Arizona, 1998), Troy Williamson (first round by Minnesota, 2005) and Lawrence’s cousin, Marcus Lawrence (free agent by New York Giants, 2005). Still, Lown said it was difficult to know exactly how far DeMarcus Lawrence could go.
“You definitely knew he could be D-I level,” Lown said. “From there, it’s a big deal about how they develop and how much work they want to put in to get there.”
Lawrence began putting in that work before he even arrived at Boise. While at Butler, he recorded 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2011. He said that “tenacity” in penetrating the line of scrimmage was why the Cowboys chose him to fill a hole in their defense.
“Being the good pass-rusher that they needed after (losing) DeMarcus Ware,” he said of the seven-time Pro Bowl selection, now with the Denver Broncos.
While a bit undersized as an NFL pass-rusher, Lawrence’s length and even hand size – with 33¾-inch arms and 11-inch hands – made him an asset Dallas didn’t let fall to another team. Garrett and owner Jerry Jones see Lawrence as a “right end candidate” to shore up their defensive front, particularly as a second- and third-down player.
“We thought he was the only one that we saw on the board that could draw two blocks on a pass-rush situation,” Jones said. “So that made him very exclusive, as far as we were concerned.”
Now, Lawrence will begin the process of negotiating a contract heading into training camp, which will begin in late July before the preseason begins on August 7 with the Cowboys playing the Chargers. The regular season begins in the first week of September, with the Cowboys hosting San Francisco on Sept. 7 at 4:25 p.m.
That is, after he fully enjoys Las Vegas, where he traveled with his family to watch the Draft and, of course, field a barrage of phone calls.
“I didn’t even get to start celebrating yet,” he said.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.