By Lethbridge Herald on January 18, 2024.
By Justin Seward
Local football player, Tanner McLachlan, just closed the book on a successful university career and is currently in the midst of a new possible path to the professional ranks.
McLachlan played the last three years with the University of Arizona and recently accepted an invite to the 2024 Senior Bowl, which is a postseason all-star game in Alabama between the best NFL (National Football League)draft prospects who have completed their college eligibility.
“To have all 32 teams there, the opportunity means the world to me (and) get to go compete against the best competition and really make a name for myself,” said McLachlan.
“Just a small town kid from southern Alberta but I’m going against some of the best players in college ball that just happen to graduate.”
The tight end declared for the NFL Draft and will go through the NFL combine process over the next couple of months prior to April’s draft.
The combine gages a player’s abilities in different drills, allows for interviews will NFL teams and in the following months, players are flown down to team facilities for interviews.
McLachlan joined some elite company while at the University of Arizona as he became the most successful tight end since former University of Arizona player and familiar retired NFL star Rob Gronkowski.
He hauled in 79 passes for 984 yards and six touchdowns to become the school’s all-time receiving leader at the tight end position.
“The biggest thing for me was just trusting the process, trusting the guidance of the people around me,” said McLachlan.
“The people that have been there and done that. That comes down to my coaching staff, the strength staff and then obviously my teammates were there every step of the way. So really it was all laid out for me. I just had to go in and put in the work each day and then it kind of came naturally.”
McLachlan knew he would have to put on weight if he wanted to be a tight end, which was a task considering he was a 185-pound wide receiver during his time locally playing at LCI.
“So for me I had to put on 60,70 pounds to be where I wanted to be and then obviously being able to play on the field and run around with the big guys,” he explained.
“That was huge for me being able to put on that weight and really just understanding football and trying to continue to develop my craft.”
Between playing in Utah and Arizona, he said a lot of growth took place over those five years.
“I really developed into the person I want to be and I still feel like I’m developing,” he said.
He received an ALL-PAC 12 honourable mention for his 2023 efforts and won the Valero Alamo Bowl with University of Arizona Wildcats over the University of Oklahoma Sooners in December.
McLachlan was a walk-on transfer to Arizona in 2022 from Southern Utah University where he suited up in 11 games and had 15 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns
He graduated with degrees in interdisciplinary studies and criminal justice.
McLachlan graduated from LCI in 2017.