Overview
James Laurinaitis is a linebacker for the St. Louis Rams, who selected him with the 35th pick in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Laurinaitis spent his collegiate career at Ohio State University, where he finished his career as a three-time All-America selection. Laurinaitis is 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs 240 pounds.
Prep Career
In high school, Laurinaitis was a star hockey and football player for Wayzata High School in Hamel, MN. As a senior, he recorded 193 tackles, including 28 tackles for loss and five sacks; he also led Wayzata to the Minnesota 5A state championship game. Laurinaitis was a top hockey prospect but chose to focus on football. He was ranked by rivals.com as the No. 28 linebacker prospect in the nation and originally committed to Minnesota. However, after the Gophers defensive coordinator Greg Hudson left the school, Laurinaitis re-opened his recruiting and chose to sign with Ohio State.
Freshman Year
Laurinaitis saw action in 12 games as a true freshman, finishing his first season in Columbus with nine tackles. Due to an injury to starting linebacker Bobby Carpenter, Laurinaitis earned his first career start in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.
Sophomore Year
With Carpenter gone to the NFL in 2006, Laurinaitis moved into the starting lineup on a full-time basis in as a sophomore. He started all 13 games, leading Ohio State with 115 total tackles and five interceptions. He forced two fumbles in the Buckeyes win against defending national champion Texas. He had a career-high 15 tackles in Ohio State's loss in the BCS National Championship Game against Florida. As a sophomore, Laurinaitis was a first team Associated Press All-America selection and won the Nagurski Trophy as the nation's best defensive player.
Junior Year
In 2007, Laurinaitis repeated as an Associated Press All-America first team selection, and set a career-high with a team-leading 121 tackles. He had at least four tackles in 12 of Ohio State's 13 games as a junior, leading the Buckeyes back to the BCS National Championship Game. He made 18 total tackles against LSU, 12 solo, but the Buckeyes lost in the title game for the second straight year. In addition to his 121 tackles, Laurinaitis finished the season with two interceptions and five sacks. He was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award Winner, Bednarik Award and Walter Camp Award and won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker.
Senior Year
Despite being eligible to enter the 2008 NFL Draft, Laurinaitis chose to return to Ohio State for his senior season, hoping to win a national championship. However, the Buckeyes lost to USC and Penn State, knocking them out of BCS Championship contention. Laurinaitis led Ohio State in tackles for the third straight season, finishing with 130 total tackles. He was a first team Associated Press All-America selection for the third straight season, and a finalist for the Lombardi and Butkus Awards. He won the Lott Trophy as the Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. After the 2008 season, Laurinaitis was invited to participate in the 2009 Senior Bowl, but he declined the invitation, citing injury concerns.
NFL Career
Laurinaitis was selected in the second round (35th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. One day before training camp, Laurinaitis signed a four-year contract with St. Louis.

Laurinaitis earned the Rams starting middle linebacker job during his first preseason. He finished his rookie season as the Rams leader with 146 total tackles.
Personal
Laurinaitis is the son of Joe and Julie Laurinaitis. His father, Joe, was a WWE professional wrestler known as "the Animal" of the Legion of Doom. He has two uncles who were both professional wrestlers -- Marcus wrestled with WCW under the name "The Terminator" and John was a WWE wrestler and agent using the professional name "Johnny Ace". His older brother Joe Jr. served with the US Army in Iraq and is currently a police officer. His sister Jessica was a high school hockey player in Minnesota.
Conversation