MIKE O'HARA

Waddle’s offseason comprised of schoolwork, knee rehab

Posted Jan 30, 2015

LaAdrian Waddle is spending this offseason rehabilitating his left knee that required surgery after the season and completing work on his degree.

LaAdrian Waddle’s size has helped make him one of the young anchors on the Lions’ offensive line in two seasons as the primary starter at right tackle. At 6-6 and 330 pounds, Waddle isn’t an easy guy to move around.

Away from the playing field, it can be another story, depending on who’s providing the force.

His mother’s voice was enough to push Waddle into finishing what he started when he enrolled at Texas Tech in 2009.

Waddle is spending this offseason rehabilitating his left knee that required surgery after the season and completing work on his degree. After two years away from school, Waddle is taking two online courses to complete the requirements to get his degree in Tech’s University Studies program.

LaAdrian WaddleLaAdrian Waddle (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“My parents kind of pushed it on me to get that done,” Waddle said in a telephone interview from his offseason home in the Dallas suburb of Denton. “I finally made up my mind – really before last season – that in the offseason I’d go back and finish it up. Now I’m taking the courses, online stuff.”

Waddle’s University Studies program includes what amounts to three minors – called “concentrations” at Texas Tech -- in sociology, organizational leadership and exercise and sports sciences.

“I started off in marketing and changed it,” Waddle said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I felt like having those concentrations would give me more options. It would give my degree a little more flexibility.”

Waddle was a four-year player at Texas Tech and a full-time starter his last three seasons. As he prepared for the 2013 draft, he was reminded by his mother, Christine Coleman, that no matter what happened in his pursuit of a pro career, he had some work to finish in college.

She wanted him to get his degree.

“My mom’s been getting on me since before the 2013 draft,” Waddle said. “I put it off to the side.  This is a good time to get it done.”

Waddle will take part in Texas Tech’s commencement exercises in mid-May if everything goes according to plans and he can fit it into the Lions’ offseason workout schedule.

Like many young athletes, getting a college degree and the ceremony that goes with it is a precious commodity.

“Not many people in my family have degrees,” Waddle said. “It would be special for my family – and for me, too. Definitely, I’ll try to get there at all costs. Getting a degree, a lot of people on this earth don’t have one.

“Football is not for always. People say that, and it’s the truth. It’s not. That (a degree) is something you need to have in your back pocket.

“You don’t want to be 35 and have no job and no degree – and no backup play for what you want to do in your life.”

Waddle, who turns 24 in July, made the Lions’ roster as an undrafted rookie in 2013. He was one of the first undrafted players the Lions contacted after the draft. He has been an important part of a unit that has undergone a massive rebuild since the end of the 2012 season.

Going into this offseason, the Lions do not have an offensive lineman under contract who was a full-time starter at the end of 2012.

Waddle has shown promise at right tackle. In two seasons he has played 23 of 32 games, with 19 starts. After establishing himself as a starter as a rookie, injuries cut into his playing time in 2014. The most serious one was the one to his left knee sustained in Game 14 against Minnesota.

It ended his season, costing him a chance to play in the playoff game against Dallas where he grew up, and required surgery.

A Vikings defender rolled up against the back of his knee, causing the injury. Before that, a calf muscle injury sustained early in the opening game against the Giants forced him to miss the next three games. He also missed the Atlanta game in London because of a concussion.

Waddle is combining schoolwork and his rehabilitation program from surgery at his offseason home. After surgery, Waddle posted a picture of himself on Twitter doing a workout.

“The surgery went well,” he said. “The doctor got in and took care of business. I’m on the road to recovery with lots of rehab. I’m trying to get it back to where it was.”

It’s too early to make a prognosis on when he’ll be able to participate in full workouts.

“It kind of depends on how I progress,” he said. “The first couple of months are kind of slow. I have to get some strength back. I have to make sure the mobility is good and all the swelling is gone.

“It depends on how I respond to everything.”

When he goes to the commencement ceremony, he doesn’t plan to limp.

“No limp,” Waddle said. “It’s a big accomplishment walking across that stage.”