Northwest Missouri State’s Matt Longacre waits for chance at next level

Oct. 25, 2014; Hays, KS; Northwest Missouri DL defensive end Matt Longacre (96) in action against Fort Hays at Lewis Field Stadium. Credit: Northwest Missouri State University

Oct. 25, 2014; Hays, KS; Northwest Missouri DL defensive end Matt Longacre (96) in action against Fort Hays at Lewis Field Stadium. Credit: Northwest Missouri State University

Matt Longacre finds himself in a hectic time ahead of the NFL Draft.

The former Bearcats defensive end is finishing his course work as a geology major at Northwest Missouri State University and wants nothing more than a chance to make an NFL roster.

Longacre completed his storied career as an All-American defensive end, as named by D2Football.com “with input from coaches, scouts, media members, and sports information directors from around the country,” according to a news release.

He is the school’s career sacks leader with 30 1/2 in four seasons of play, but didn’t receive an invite to participate in the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

“Everybody wants to be invited,” Longacre said during a telephone interview. “Nothing is going to be handed to me. I’m going to have to outwork the majority of the guys to make a team. I’ve strived on that aspect.”

With the draft rapidly approaching, the native of Omaha, Neb., has kept up in the weight room five days a week in hopes of receiving a phone call from an NFL team.

The 2014 MIAA Defensive Player of the Year had the opportunity to show scouts what he could do at his Pro Day held at Missouri Western on March 27, by running a 4.75 40-yard dash, which projects as tied for fifth-best at among defensive linemen at the Combine.

He also bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times and had the interest of the teams present for the workout.

Longacre said he spoke with the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants. Longacre said the scouts were interested in his “body of work.”

The 6-3, 260-pound Longacre has been viewed as an outside linebacker despite playing three of his four college seasons at defensive end.

Northwest Missouri State assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Rich Wright said in a telephone interview Longacre fits well as a defensive end in a four-man front or as an outside linebacker in a three-man front defensive system.

Longacre was a linebacker as a redshirt freshman before ultimately becoming a force to be reckoned with as a defensive end. He also holds the school record for career tackles for loss with 47 and forced fumbles with five in 2013.

Longacre jumped from 4 1/2 sacks in his freshman season to 12 his sophomore year.

“He had a knack for making plays when we needed him to,” Wright said. “There was never a situation where he didn’t rise to the occasion. He could take over a game.”

Longacre said he could play defensive end or linebacker at the next level.

“He means that,” Wright said. “He’s willing to do it. He’s a kid that’s relentless in his abilities. It’s up to the individual team to see where they see him.”

Unfortunately, Longacre hasn’t heard from the teams since Pro Day.

“It’s been slow since,” he said. “It’s frustrating. But, I can only control what I can control; workouts and school.”

Nov. 18, 2014; Emporia, KS; Northwest Missouri defensive end Matt Longacre (96) lines up before the snap against Emporia State at Welch Stadium. Credit: Northwest Missouri State University

Nov. 18, 2014; Emporia, KS; Northwest Missouri defensive end Matt Longacre (96) lines up before the snap against Emporia State at Welch Stadium. Credit: Northwest Missouri State University

Longacre has been in a similar position before.

“Out of high school not a lot of schools wanted me,” he said. “I like to prove people wrong. It’s the same way it’s been now.”

Longacre was lightly recruited out of Millard West in Omaha.

The University of Nebraska Omaha was interested in the local talent, but it wasn’t for Longacre.

While North Dakota piqued his interest, he knew his landing spot was the Division II school in Maryville, Mo., once he took his final visit to Northwest Missouri State.

The pre-draft process is a bit different, however, as the stakes are higher.

“There’s a big difference so that’s where you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Longacre said. “You can’t rely on past experiences too much.”

Wright agreed.

“For Matt, I really believe it’s going to be an NFL or bust kind of thing,” Wright said. “That’s what he wants to do. He wants an opportunity; he wants a chance.”

CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com project Longacre as an undrafted free agent, but that won’t deter potential interest from NFL teams.

Wright said unnamed teams have inquired about Longacre’s talents, and his message to the clubs has been simple.

“If he goes to your camp, he’s going to make your football team,” Wright said. “He’ll make it very difficult to make them cut him.”

Longacre agreed and wants to show he belongs.

“I know if that does happen,” he said, “I want it to be hard for them to let me go.”

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