Laptad Looks to Leave His Mark
Nov. 5, 2010
If you look inside this year’s football media guide underneath career sack leaders, take a glance down to the fifth slot and you’ll see the name Jake Laptad. Even though the four names before his read like an NFL roster, the senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma sees the company he keeps as a motivating factor, rather than a place to hang his hat.
“That’s just a good thing to be shooting for,” said Laptad, who at 18.5 career sacks is now two away from a tie for second all-time at KU. His first sack of the season propelled him past Jayhawk greats Nate Dwyer and former NFL pro-bowler Dana Stubblefield who both have 17.
“He (Stubblefield) was a great player here and played in the NFL, so obviously it meant a lot to get that one sack and get my name up there.”
His milestone sack came in the Texas A&M Homecoming game at Memorial Stadium when Laptad sent Aggie quarterback Jerrod Johnson to the ground and for a five yard loss deep inside the red zone.
With this being his senior season, Laptad would like to join Stubblefield and Dwyer in holding the unique title of a ‘Jayhawk in the Pros’.
“I do want to play in the NFL, so hopefully I’ll get a shot somewhere,” said Laptad.
The defensive end already has some former teammates in the league and looks to them for guidance on how to go about taking that next step.
“I’ve talked to (Darrell) Stuckey a little bit and he’s having a good time down there in San Diego (with the Chargers). It’s a great honor to come from the Kansas Jayhawks and then to go the NFL,” he said.
Before Laptad can start thinking about strapping on the pads come Sunday, he still has a few games left to play on Saturday. That includes two more home match-ups against Colorado and Oklahoma State before a season finale with rival Missouri at Arrowhead. Laptad, like the rest of his teammates, is hoping for a successful second half to conference play.
“It would definitely be a great thing for us to go out there and get some wins,” said Laptad. “We’ve had a rough stretch, but we’re bouncing back and coming out and practicing and working hard each and every day.”
That work ethic is something that Kansas Defensive Line Coach Buddy Wyatt sees in his stand-out senior every time he steps foot on the practice field.
“Jake is what you call a blue collar worker, because he comes to practice every day to get better,” said Wyatt. “He tries to do whatever you ask him to do and even if he has trouble, he’s going to try to do it. He is by far one of the most coachable guys that I’ve ever had.”
Laptad’s coachable nature is something Wyatt says makes his job a whole lot easier.
“We’ll move him to different positions and we’ll ask him, ‘Jake do you mind doing this?’ and he’ll say ‘No sir, I’ll do it’. That’s the kind of guy you love to coach because he’s a team player.”
Heading into the twilight of his collegiate career, Laptad takes nothing for granted. That’s because coming out of high school, the one-time varsity letterman was looking to make a similar jump to the next level, but wasn’t heavily recruited. In fact, as a senior he didn’t have any serious offers until KU came knocking at his door. Even then, his first few snaps as a Jayhawk were an uphill battle.
“My career has definitely exceeded my expectations because coming in as a freshman, I thought I was going to be red shirting and it turned out that I was out there playing (in all 13 games including the Orange Bowl) my first year,” said Laptad, who had three sacks as a freshman. “That was a bright spot early on in my career.”
Another bright spot on the senior’s mind came only a year later in games against Colorado and Missouri, when he racked up safeties for his team in crucial times of each game.
“Both those (moments) my sophomore year, were just big moments in the game that just stick out and that I’ll remember forever,” said Laptad.
Whether Laptad finds himself amidst another game-changing play against Colorado this season, the graduating senior plans to soak up all that playing in Memorial Stadium has to offer, before it’s too late.
“It’s been a great experience here at KU. I love going out on that field and playing for the fans and for my teammates,” he said. “It’s just been a great ride here.”
Even if that ride eventually takes him to New York City for next spring’s NFL Draft, Laptad knows he and the rest of his teammates are still in the drivers’ seat this fall, trying to steer the Jayhawks’ season in the right direction.
Matt Franzblau is a second year graduate student from Bridgewater, N.J., earning his master’s degree in strategic communication.