BC's Mike McLaughlin opens eyes

INDIANAPOLIS -- More than 300 prospects are invited to the NFL combine, which makes it a challenge for someone like Boston College linebacker Mike McLaughlin to stand out. Still, he seems to have carved out a niche that has caught the attention of NFL clubs.

In the 10 to 12 informal meetings McLaughlin had with coaches and scouts Friday night, most had high interest in his ability to long-snap.

"I probably talked more about my long-snapping than I did about playing linebacker," he said.

McLaughlin first started snapping in the backyard of his family's home in Woburn, Mass., acting on the suggestion of his father, Michael, and uncle Joe, both of whom played professional football and told him it would be beneficial to his future.

For most of his time at BC, McLaughlin served as the Eagles' backup snapper. There was a stretch of four or five games in 2007 in which he was the primary snapper, and he found himself in the role again in this year's East-West Shrine Game.

"I think that was huge," he said of playing in the game. "I think coaches were impressed with how I did and how I was able to cover the punt and actually make plays as a long-snapper. It's something I think I can do in this league and hopefully be pretty good at it."

It's not that McLaughlin isn't interested in a long career at linebacker -- he was terrific at Boston College at the position -- but he realizes that any foot in the NFL door is an advantage in an ultra-competitive environment.

"Right now, I consider myself a special-teams guy first and then a linebacker," he said. "Of course, I play linebacker and I have the LB on my shirt, but I think I can come and make an impact on any special teams."

McLaughlin wouldn't be the first player with New England roots to carve out such a role in recent years. Brown University's Zak DeOssie, who enters his fourth season as the New York Giants' long-snapper, has already played in the Pro Bowl.

McLaughlin is scheduled to snap for coaches at the combine Monday, and also plans to do so at BC's pro day March 11.

In addition to long-snapping, officials from NFL teams at the combine had questions for the 242-pound McLaughlin about his injury history, specifically his recovery from an Achilles' tendon he ruptured at this time last year. He missed the first three games of BC's 2009 season.

"It progressively got better as the year went on," he said. "For the first few games I came back, I certainly didn't look like the player I was on tape in '08. So I think if I can move around well [at the combine] and show them I'm as explosive as I've ever been, I think that will answer some questions about me physically and with the injury.

"I didn't feel like I was fully playing to where I was athletically capable until probably the last few games of the year. Now I feel like I'm back to 100 percent. With these workouts, preparing for the combine the last two months, I've felt really good, really explosive cutting in and out."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.