Thanksgiving is going to be a little different this year for the family of graduating SMU offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus. Like many families in the Dallas area, it is customary to watch the Dallas Cowboys play their annual holiday game.
His mother is a loyal fan of the Cowboys … or at least she was until Friday, when her son was drafted in the third round by the Washington Redskins, who happen to be scheduled for a trip to Arlington, Texas to face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
|Guard Josh LeRibeus is one of two Mustangs drafted this weekend by the Washington Redskins, along with cornerback Richard Crawford (photo by Debbie LeRibeus).
By getting selected with the 71st overall pick, LeRibeus was drafted higher than any SMU player in 25 years. Wide receiver Ron Morris was chosen 54th overall in 1987 by the Chicago Bears
“I’m excited,” LeRibeus said. “I didn’t sleep too much last night.”
LeRibeus said he had an inkling that the Redskins might try to draft him after he met with them last month at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
“I met with them at the Combine, where I had a formal interview with them,” LeRibeus said. “But since the Combine, I hadn’t heard much from them. So I really didn’t know.”
The Redskins’ contingent in Indianapolis, LeRibeus said, included head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive line coach Chris Foerster, among others. LeRibeus said he is looking forward to playing in the zone blocking scheme Shanahan has employed for years.
“(Shanahan) is just like the guy you see on TV,” LeRibeus said. “He’s a cool guy, but it’s obvious he means business, too. He knows what the hell he’s doing.
“I grew up watching the guy. I was a big John Elway fan, so I grew up watching the Broncos. I feel like I can play in any offense, but the zone blocking scheme is going to be perfect for me.”
When offensive linemen sign with SMU since head coach June Jones’s arrival on the Hilltop, most of them have to make the adjustment of going from playing in a three-point stance, with one hand down on the ground, to standing up and blocking out of a two-point stance. With his move to the Redskins, LeRibeus will be making the opposite switch.
“I played in a three-point stance in high school and my first year, when I redshirted, but basically I have played in a two-point stance for my whole time at SMU,” he said. “I finally played in a three-point stance again for the first time at the (East-West) Shrine game, and I had forgotten what it’s like to play with a hand down.
“I think it’s a lot easier to go from a two-point stance to a three-point stance, but I’m glad I have played in both. It feels more natural now, with your hand down. The Redskins run the ball a lot, and with a hand down, you can really fire off the ball, and it’s still pretty easy to get back into the pass setting.”
LeRibeus said the Washington coaches didn’t break down the status of their returning offensive line, but it’s clear that the line was an area of concern, because LeRibeus was one of three linemen drafted over the weekend by the Redskins, who also picked up guard Adam Gettis of Iowa and Tom Compton of South Dakota.
“They really didn’t go in to a lot of detail about their current (line),” LeRibeus said. “I don’t think they wanted me to worry about the other guys too much. They just told me, ‘play off your strength — you’re a great fit for us.’
“As far as the current line, though, they didn’t really mention it. They just said they want me to come in and compete.”
|LeRibeus said he is looking forward to meeting quarterback Robert Griffin III and beginning his career with the Redskins (photo by Travis Johnston).
When he gets to the Redskins’ facility in Ashburn, Va., LeRibeus will have one familiar face to whom he can turn for advice: former SMU wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, drafted last year by the Redskins, already has reached out to his former and future teammate.
“He sent me a text message,” LeRibeus said of Robinson. “He just wished me luck, and said, ‘let’s go turn around another team together.’”
Before he, Robinson and former SMU cornerback Richard Crawford (who was drafted by Washington in the seventh round Saturday) and their teammates can start turning around a Redskins team that finished 5-11 in 2011, LeRibeus has to work on converting his mom from a Cowboys fan to a Redskins fan.
“She has always been a big Cowboys fan, but I don’t think I’ll have too much of a problem getting her to wear Redskins stuff now,” he said, laughing. “She didn’t say a whole lot (when he was drafted). She’s happy for me, and she’s proud of me.”
LeRibeus said he is eager to start his career — the Redskins will hold a rookie mini-camp sometime next week — and realizes he is being asked to help protect the new face of the franchise in quarterback Robert Griffin III, whom the Redskins paid a steep price to trade up to select with the second pick in the draft.
“He’s a great athlete and a great player,” LeRibeus said. “I’m just looking forward to meeting him and getting started.”
LeRibeus said he never has been to the nation’s capital, but said he already has a grasp of the intense passion Redskins fans feel for their team.
“I know it’s huge up there,” he said. “You see (players) like ‘The Hogs,’ (the nickname given to the Washington offensive line of the 1980s and early 1990s, during which the Redskins won three Super Bowls), and you can see how near and dear that team is to the fans up there.
“I’m going to enjoy every second of it.”