The pandemic hasn’t exactly given anyone a fair shake at things since it began last year, that even goes for Michigan State Football’s all-time leader in total offensive yards – former quarterback Brian Lewerke.
After going undrafted in last year’s NFL Draft, Lewerke was signed by the New England Patriots only to be cut. He has yet to be signed by another NFL team.
On Wednesday morning, Lewerke took another throw at his second chance.
“When I got to text them back this year and say, ‘Hey, you could do it again,’ it's been really cool to kind of see (that),” Michigan State Football’s director of Player Personnel Scott Aligo said. "Give them this opportunity because they've earned, it in my opinion. They've given a lot to Michigan State, it's the least we can do to be able to give them that opportunity to do that. It's fulfilling to me.”
When that opportunity arose for Lewerke to have the eyes of NFL scouts on him, he didn't hesitate at all.
“We got a text from Scott about a month and a half ago just asking that if anyone wanted to come back that didn't get to do their Pro Day last year, they can come do it,” Lewerke said. “I definitely hopped on that as soon as I could.”
After being cut by the Patriots, Lewerke only was called for about three workouts in the next five months.
Due to all the obstacles teams had to go through to put on a workout with the ongoing pandemic, teams weren’t as eager to bring in undrafted players like Lewerke.
“It definitely didn't help anything at all,” Lewerke said. “Having the preseason canceled for guys like me that go undrafted, preseason is really big for us to still try and show what we can do in (live) game situations, so not having that definitely sucked then just having the whole protocol for teams having to keep you for a week before you can do a tryout make sure you got a quarantine for a tryout and made it a little less attractive for teams to bring guys in."
Despite the flack Lewerke often received from the Spartans fanbase in his time at school he still finished high on many offensive record lists at MSU. And still, he could not get opportunities at the next level – something that was frustrating and hard to understand at times for the Arizona native.
“I obviously was upset and frustrated about it, but at a point, there's nothing you can do about it. So there's really no point getting mad because it's just gonna eat at you,” Lewerke said. “So you just got to move on a little bit and that's what I did. I had my shot with a team and didn't get all the opportunities that I wanted with that team, but I'm trying to hopefully make an impression on someone who came in today and they can bring me in.”
Despite those trials and tribulations, Lewerke remained ready for a moment like this to impress scouts as he had throughout the last year.
"After I was cut by the Pats (Patriots) back in September, I had a few tryouts for some teams and just kind of (have) been throwing with my coach down in Arizona, making sure I'm working out staying in shape for whenever I get a call,” Lewerke said. “I was down in Florida one time, I got a call from my agent and the Colts wanted to come try me out. So I had to go fly out from there ... you kind of got to be ready at all times.”
Lewerke’s time with the Patriots, while short, was still valuable. He learned the in’s and out’s of an NFL organization and the time and effort it takes to be a professional at the next level.
“Knowing what NFL teams expect and being in the building with them and seeing how much of a business it is you got to be on your toes at all times," Lewerke said. "Make sure you're prepared for everything that a coach can throw at you (and) I think I definitely learned that.
Pro Day was limited to the scouts and Michigan State personnel this year and times and stats were not accessible at the time this story was published, but Lewerke felt he has made some strides since his time at Michigan State, specifically in his mobility and in arm strength.
“In my opinion, I ran a horrible 40-yard dash at the combine last year, so I wanted to show that I still got the speed and I think I did that pretty well,” Lewerke said. “Just show off my arm strength, I think my arm has definitely gotten stronger. I'm able to throw the ball downfield a little better than what I could do in college.”
Now with Pro Day over, the quarterback can only sit and wait for that next call.
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