QB Kyle Lauletta takes the lead and Richmond couldn't be happier
It seems the most appropriate academic career path given how the quarterback emerged to lead a Richmond team that went to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs a year ago combined with how he has taken it upon himself to mentor and help others.
The football part of the equation and his ability to lead a team has long been a part of his makeup. Lauletta’s father, Joe, was a quarterback at Navy in 1980s and his older brother, Trey, was also under center at Bucknell. His grandfather took to the gridiron at Delaware and an uncle played at Annapolis about a decade before his father.
Not surprisingly it is his father and brother that Lauletta leans on. Though Joe played in an option offense that would be foreign to Kyle, he instills the intangibles required of a team leader. Trey, only a couple of years older, serves as a sort of quarterback coach watching film with Kyle and pointing out things that can improve his play.
“In seventh or eighth grade I was unsure what position I wanted to play going into high school and my father said, ‘Hey, why don’t you try quarterback?’” recalled Lauletta, who attended Downingtown East, outside of Philadelphia. “In college I am getting coached on the technical aspects and he kind of teaches me on the personal side with leadership. As a captain on the team we have to handle a lot of different issues with players and whenever there is an issue I always lean on him for advice and he has been very helpful on how to deal with certain situations.”
Kyle will help with situations that pertain to coverage and other areas a quarterback must master. The brothers are often breaking down film looking for the edge that could make Kyle an even better QB than he already is.
“He is hard on me,” Kyle said of Trey. “He will quiz me on protections and other things we are looking at. He instills those things in me, about being confident and every aspect about what I need to know.”
Those sessions must be going pretty well. Lauletta heads into this season as the CAA’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. That honor is the result of leading the Spiders to a 10-4 mark a year ago while throwing for 3,598 yards and totaling 26 touchdowns, 19 through the air.
“Last year we were a pretty young team that showed incredible improvement,” he said. “This year we have a lot of returning starters so we kind of want to cut out mistakes and growing pains in the first part of the season. We want to build on the success we had last season and feed off the experienced players we have and perform at an elite level right from the start.”
Last season marked the first in which the 6-3, 215-pound Lauletta saw extensive playing time. He played sparingly as a freshman in 2013 before redshirting in 2014 when fifth-year seniors Michael Rocca and Michael Strauss handled the quarterback chores. The year of prepping helped immensely as Lauletta ultimately proved he was ready to assume the keys to the offense.
“I think I grew as last season went along,” he said. “I started out a little bit shaky, kind of not sure about certain plays and other things we were doing. As the season went on I felt more comfortable as a player and I really embraced the people around me.
“I think I was just scratching the surface. I need to prove I can be even better, take the next step and elevate my game.”
Lauletta has embraced the need to help others, something that goes back at least to high school when he donated sports equipment once used by his brothers and sister to the Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia.
“I have grown so much as a football player and off the field as a person,” he said of his time at Richmond. “Being able to help others, even if it is just signing autographs for little kids, makes me feel so happy. Anything that I can do that has an effect on other people is something that I want to continue to do.”
That includes mentoring middle school and high school kids close to the family’s Exton, Pa. home. Through FAME — Future American Men of Excellence — Lauletta is among those who have lent their wisdom, including promoting athletics as a means of personal development.
“For some of these kids sports are a way to remove themselves from a situation, whether it is getting away from parents who are not getting along at home or maybe school did not go well that day,” he said. “Through sports they can put it all aside and let loose. I encourage them and tell them they should dream big and if they put in the work they can get to where they want to be.”
It is through such hard work and dedication that Lauletta finds himself in a good place heading into his redshirt junior season.
“He’s very committed, focused and he holds himself to a really high standard,” said Richmond head coach Danny Rocco. “He’s continually improving and took a real strong leadership role for us.”
Omar Howard, a preseason All-CAA selection at linebacker, has witnessed Lauletta’s growth first-hand the past three years.
“He has taken the bull by the horns,” said the senior. “He has matured a great amount. I remember his first two years he would get flustered when things got disjointed. He has calmed down and matured to where he brings everybody together and moves us forward as a team. The team has a lot of confidence in him because we know that he is a good quarterback.”
Such commentary would undoubtedly delight Joe and Trey.
Photo courtesy Richmond Athletics