Jason Vander Laan to Jets
Jason Vander Laan produced a record-setting career as quarterback at Ferris State.
However, if the Chicago Christian graduate is going to make the New York Jets roster as an undrafted free agent, it will be as a tight end — a position he has never played.
The 6-foot-4, 244-pound Vander Laan is undaunted by the challenge. In fact, he said, "bring it on."
"I'm confident I can make the transition," said Vander Laan, who signed Saturday with the Jets. "I feel comfortable. I know where I'm at physically and athletically. I can't wait to get started."
Vander Laan had a good idea NFL teams preferred him as a tight end and has been honing his skills since January.
"At my pro day, 85 percent of the teams were interested in me as a tight end," said Vander Laan, a Frankfort resident. "I've been working on my blocking, route running and footwork. At tight end, you're always going to be undersized going up against a defensive end. It all comes down to technique. I'm just going to keep working."
The Washington Redskins also were in hot pursuit of Vander Laan. With the Jets currently having only two tight ends on their roster with Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland, Vander Laan believed they were a better fit than the Redskins.
"The Jets have a better situation for me to make the roster and made me a better offer," Vander Laan said.
Vander Laan is the all-time leading rushing quarterback in NCAA history with 5,953 yards. He's also the first player to run and pass for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
A two-time defending Harlon Hill Trophy winner as the top player in Division II, Vander Laan totaled 14,193 yards and scored 166 touchdowns for Ferris State.
NFL scouts, however, compared his quarterback skills to NFL bust Tim Tebow. The difference between the two is that Tebow resisted overtures to switch positions in the NFL, while Vander Laan was open to the change.
Vander Laan acknowledged it will take a little while getting used to not playing quarterback.
"I've been playing quarterback since fourth grade," said Vander Laan, who earned a degree in December in actuarial science. "I've been in control of the ball every play. At tight end, you get the ball maybe six or seven times a game. But it's going to be fun to play a different position."
At Chicago Christian, Vander Laan played quarterback and strong safety. As a senior, he was named the Suburban Christian Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He also played basketball, baseball and track and field.