Lithuania’s Laurynas Orlovicius hopes expertise in the gym will earn him next pro football opportunity

Football players around the world dream of a chance to compete against top caliber American players, but when it comes to working out, it may be Europeans who can teach their US counterparts a thing or two.

At least that’s been the assessment of Laurynas Orlovicius since he began his foray into the world of North American pro football last year and there is no doubt that he backs it up. Weighing in at 6’4 and 303 pounds, the Lithuanian defensive tackle has a torso as thick as a tree trunk with body builder biceps and the legs to match. Standing next to American pro football hopefuls last week at the College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas, his frame was noticeably different, a testament to the different trajectory that European prospects like him have taken to get to this stage.

“I think the big difference for us is most of us come more from the gym side. We have built up more muscle as opposed to most of the football guys here who use the gym as a way to get better at football. Our bodies are just started off differently and over time built differently,” Orlovicius remarked after the event.

“The more you lift, you just build more muscle and keep it on more. Guys here jump into it a bit more quickly and a bit less seriously.  I think a lot of them still don’t know how to lift in America. They’re still very athletic, strong guys, still very explosive, but they have a lot more fat on their bodies, which is I think how we stand out a lot of the time.”

Orlovicius has been standing out for a while, ever since he first picked up the game of football as an international student at Sheffield University in England. He translated his career there to a productive stint with the GFL’s Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, before crossing the Atlantic last season to join the Blues of The Spring League. Now the defensive tackle is looking for his next pro football opportunity and he hopes to have found it in Texas.

Photo: Christian Gosslar

The College Gridiron Showcase, an annual all-star event for top NFL Draft prospect, opens their event each year with a pro free agent showcase. In the past it has spring-boarded player like former Seahawks’ second rounder Malik McDowell back into the NFL and this year Orlovicius was one of three European prospects in attendance, invited through the event’s partnership with All22-The Global Scouting Network.

Designed as a type of global BLESTO, providing verified scouting data to teams across the world, the organization is aiming to get some of the best international prospects in front of pro scouts, and this week in Fort Worth was the place to do it. Under the watchful eye of dozens of NFL scouts, as well as those from the CFL, XFL and USFL, Orlovicius and other prospects completed official weigh ins, combine testing and positional drills. While events like All22‘s recent combine in the Balkans are increasing the caliber of testing events in Europe, there is no replacement for getting in front of the actual decision makers.

“You’re not going to get anything near similar in Europe. Yeah, you may have a similar combine, but it’s not going to be from the same reputable sources. A team will get it, but they’ll probably be more skeptical on what they see and it will only be European guys there so it’s also harder to judge, as opposed to doing it here where the NFL guys look at you, the CFL guys look at you in person,” Orlovicius explained.

“Of course some will just receive the tape, but they already have the background. They know all of the history from the CGS of how they’ve done it before, that they get what they want and that they’ve picked players from here before.”

Orlovicius is exactly what teams want, a raw prospect with high developmental upside. More than just a gym body, he was able to move his massive frame remarkably well and is viewed by some scouts as having positional versatility.

“I saw him as a stout one gap 3-technique with the potential to convert to offensive guard because of his initial quickness,” noted Josh Washburn, a former scout for the Tennessee Titans, Washington Football Team and Ottawa Redblacks whose assessment was key in his selection by All22.

Laurynas Orlovicius lines up against Kiel Baltic Hurricanes Photo: Christian Gosslar

Orlovicius is aware that some teams would be interested in him on the other side of the ball and while he competed as a defensive tackle in Fort Worth, his offseason focus will be elsewhere.

“I’m going to be working this off-season at Chip Smith Performance Systems in Atlanta with an o-line coach to learn the basics, be able to snap, play center or guard, be ready for that,” he said. “I’ll be able to go into a pro day later on and say I can do both of the sets of drills. Go through all that, show more on tape, as well as that I can long snap. You’re just giving more value as a player.”

He demonstrated some of that at the showcase, jumping in with the specialists at the end of the afternoon. His performance overall earned him conversations with scouts from a variety of different leagues, leaving Orlovicius hopeful.

“I think they’re very interested. It helps being in person instead of just seeing it on a video, as well as we’re going against American guys so they have a side by side comparison exactly the same,” he said. “Interest definitely from the lower leagues, from the CFL some interest as well although they also require a bit different body types for their positions.”

Whether or not he fits the three-down game, it is safe to say that Orlovicius’ body type is certainly different.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.