Pottsboro High School graduate and former SMU defensive end Justin Lawler was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 244 overall pick in the seventh round of the NFL draft on Saturday.
Lawler is one of three Mustangs drafted this year, joining Courtland Sutton, who was picked by the Denver Broncos in the second round Friday; and Trey Quinn, who was taken by the Washington Redskins with the 256th and final pick of the draft on Saturday.
The 6-foot-4 Lawler started all 13 games for SMU as a senior. He was second on the team with 74 tackles and first with 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Lawler also finished the season tied for the FBS lead with three blocked kicks. He finished his career with 20.5 sacks, second most in SMU history.
At Pottsboro, Lawler was named All-Midlands Region by PrepStar after a 2012 senior season in which he finished with 13 sacks and 28 tackles for loss. Lawler totaled 124 total tackles with two blocked punts, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, and also added 44 catches for 719 yards and 11 touchdowns on offense as the Cardinals finished 11-1 and reached the Class 2A Region II semifinals.
Lawler was a two-time District MVP and a first-team Class 2A All-State selection and was voted the 2A All-State Defensive MVP by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Lawler was the Herald Democrat All-Texomaland Class 1A-3A Most Valuable Player as a senior and the All-Texomaland Class1A-3A Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2011.
At Pottsboro, Lawler also lettered in basketball, baseball, powerlifting and track.
Defensive line has been an area of emphasis for the Rams in this draft, with Los Angeles drafting several ends and tackles. He’ll have to compete with many of these prospects for a spot on the Rams’ roster this season.
But considering how late things were getting in the draft, Lawler must be happy to know exactly where he’s going having achieved his goal of being an NFL draft pick.
Luper signs with Titans
Among other local players, Sherman High School graduate and former Central Oklahoma wide receiver J.T. Luper signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent on Saturday.
Luper was the Herald Democrat All-Texomaland Class 4A-5A Most Valuable Player in 2012 after catching 81 passes for 1,470 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Bearcats. He was voted district MVP and was an honorable-mention All-State pick as well.
At UCO, Luper was a finalist for the 2017 Harlon Hill Trophy for the top player in NCAA Division II, finishing sixth in the voting. He had a record-setting senior year in which he shattered single-season school records in pass catches (110), yards (1,593) and touchdown catches (12).
Before signing with the Bronchos, Luper spent two seasons at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, where he had 16 receptions for 251 yards and one touchdown as a sophomore, averaging 22.8 yards per catch.