• Chiefs' Studebaker trying to make jump from Div. III to NFL

  • People who like to cheer for the underdog will love Andy Studebaker.

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  • People who like to cheer for the underdog will love Andy Studebaker.
    Studebaker is the first player from tiny Wheaton College to be drafted into the NFL, but now he is struggling to win a starting job in the NFL.
    Like many defensive players in Kansas City’s camp, the second-year pro is switching from defensive end to linebacker in the Chiefs’ new 3-4 alignment.
    The competition is heated and as a Division III player, Studebaker didn’t benefit from the topflight coaching and instruction that players from BCS schools enjoy. But Chiefs coach Todd Haley is happy with Studebaker’s progress, and very happy with the way he played in last weekend’s 16-10 loss to Houston in the preseason opener.
    Studebaker has also benefited from the clean-slate policy the first-year head coach has installed for a team that is getting a major overhaul after winning only six games the past two seasons.
    “I’ve been taught, and I feel like that’s what I love about this situation is that the best guys are going to play,” Haley said. “That was one of the most attractive things about this situation. I know that’s the way we’re going to play football. We’re going to play with the guys who give us the best chance to win.”
    Against Houston, Studebaker had two quarterbacks pressures and shared a sack with first-round pick Tyson Jackson. But there is a huge difference between Division III and the NFL. He relishes the challenge of doing something no one from his school had done before.
    “Kind of showing the little guy can make it sometimes too, you know what I’m saying?” Studebaker explained “With the right work ethic, it doesn’t matter where you are from as long as you do what is necessary to succeed.”
    A descendant of the family that developed the famed Studebaker automobile, the 6-foot-3, 248-pounder started only five games his senior season because of a foot injury. But he was still taken in the sixth round by Philadelphia in 2008. Released by the Eagles, he hooked up with the Chiefs after midseason and played the final six games on special teams, totaling six tackles.
    That was a huge break, landing on a team that was about to undergo a front office housecleaning and head in an entirely new direction. Plus, he figures he also got a break playing behind veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel, who was a mainstay on New England’s Super Bowl teams.
    “Just learning from a guy like Mike Vrabel right now, he’s played in the league for 12, 13 years at a high level,” he said. “I’m getting a lot of opportunity to take reps in practice, but also watch him.”

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