Former Phoenixville High and Vanderbilt University football star lineman Rob Lohr has signed a rookie free agent contract with the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Lohr, a 6-foot-4, 292-pounder, was a three-year starter at Vanderbilt as a defensive tackle but had some nagging injuries during his senior season in 2012. He did start 38 consecutive games for Vanderbilt, which finished 9-4 in the Southeast Conference and won the 2012 Music City Bowl, the Commodores’ second straight bowl appearance.
The three-year starter totaled 30 tackles with 11 tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks during his senior season. He ranks among the all-time Vandy defensive tackles with 31.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.
At Phoenixville under head coach Bill Furlong, Lohr starred as a defensive end and tight end and was selected as the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
“It’s been a pretty crazy week, but I can’t complain,” said Lohr during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
Work will start quickly for Lohr.
“They are flying me out there next Thursday for a rookie mini-camp,” said Lohr. “Then will come OTAs, which are organized team activities. We practice and start workouts.
“It is a quick transition, but I am ready to get back into football.”
The Chiefs have a new head coach in Andy Reid, former longtime head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I actually was able to speak with him on draft day,” said Lohr. “They called me on draft day and said they were going to give me an opportunity. I spoke to my agent, and we felt it was a good fit for me with their depth. I think I can make a difference.”
The Chiefs are rebuilding in a big way so Lohr has a solid chance to stick with the team. If he does, Lohr will join former Phoenixville standout linebackers Neal Olkewicz and Rick Kraynak as National Football League players in modern times during the 1980s. Olkewicz was a free agent out of the University of Maryland who became a longtime starting middle linebacker with the Washington Redskins when they were in their Super Bowl glory years. Olkewicz owns two championship rings and has a third one as a runner-up.
Kraynak, who starred at the University of Pittsburgh when the Panthers were ranked as high as number one in the country during the quarterback Dan Marino era, was drafted by the Eagles and also played for the Atlanta Falcons during his NFL career.
“I would say, yes, it’s kind of been a distant goal,” said Lohr. “I didn’t think I could make it when I was in high school. It just kind of happened. You find out you can compete at a really high level.”
By playing in the rugged Southeastern Conference with the likes of national powers Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee enabled Lohr to be noticed among some of the elite players the nation has to offer.
“Obviously, playing in the SEC and with the success we have had here at Vanderbilt the last few seasons, that definitely helps get me to the next level,” said Lohr.
Defensive lineman also rank in premium status these days with the nature of the NFL game. The emphasis on passing offenses requires defenses to apply as much pressure on quarterbacks as possible.
Lohr was able to provide that pressure while playing at an interior position in college, where the Commodores used a 4-3 alignment under head coach James Franklin.
At Kansas City, Reid and his staff want to employ a 3-4 scheme in which Lohr will line up as a defensive end on the outside, which is where he first made his name at Phoenixville.
“It is a new technique, but it is the best chance I have of succeeding, especially as a free agent,” said Lohr. “It is a lot harder to make it. My goal is to stay on the team.”
By playing outside, Lohr will be able to utilize his current size and mobility as opposed to the many behemoths who play along the offensive and defensive lines at the NFL level.