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Redskins Trade Down, Select LG Josh LeRibeus With Third-Round Pick

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 4/27/12, 9:57 p.m.; updated 4/27/12, 11:14 p.m.)

ASHBURN – When Josh LeRibeus returned to spring practice at SMU just over a year ago, his Mutangs teammates looked at the once-beefy offensive lineman and couldn’t believe themselves.

“Everybody was like, ‘What the [heck] did you do?’” LeRibeus said Friday, moments after the Washington Redskins made him a third-round draft pick. “I lost a toddler off the side of my belly.”

LeRibeus, a 6-foot-3 left guard, weighed over 380 pounds during what was supposed to be his junior year – one he missed due to academic ineligibility. He returned in 2011 to start all 13 games for SMU, helping the team to an 8-5 finish and a victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Losing that much weight may seem a difficult task, but LeRibeus found a simple solution.

“I ended up moving away from home, so I got away from mom’s cooking, and that helped a lot,” he said. “I had a bit of a tight budget, so I ended up buying chicken or whatever at [the grocery store] and I kept a light diet.”

LeRibeus entered the 2010 season weighing 363 pounds, according to the school, but a switch from economics – “I wasn’t a big fan” – to sociology cost him credit hours and the year. He spent the year on the practice squad, then returned in 2011 to his starting role.

The selection, at No. 71 overall, made him the highest selection out of SMU since 1987 and the fourth in the last four years. Former teammate Aldrick Robinson was taken by the Redskins in the sixth round last year.

LeRibeus weighed in at 312 pounds at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February, where he first met with Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. The two met for 15 minutes and introduced themselves, but rarely talked over the last two months.

Though LeRibeus expected to be selected in the third or fourth round, he said getting a phone call was a bit unexpected.

“But hey, it’s a welcome surprise,” LeRibeus said, laughing.

Washington originally held the No. 69 pick, the sixth of the third round, before orchestrating a swap with Buffalo. To move up two spots, the Bills gave the Redskins the No. 217 pick, a seventh-rounder, continuing the pattern he established last year when the team added five draft picks.

The Redskins didn’t have a second-round pick because of their trade with St. Louis, which sent the No. 6 and No. 39 picks, as well as first-round choices in each of the next two years, to the Rams. They took Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III with that choice Thursday; St. Louis selected Janoris Jenkins, a cornerback from Florida via North Alabama, with the Redskins’ second-round pick.

LaRibeus should have an easy opportunity to establish himself with the Redskins, who have Kory Lichtensteiger, who tore ligaments in his right knee early in the season, and Maurice Hurt, a seventh-round pick from a year ago, currently at the position.

He also said several of the teams he worked out for expressed an interest in having him play at center, and he’s open to a potential move for the Redskins, who recently signed starter Will Montgomery to a new deal and also have Erik Cook under contract.

At SMU, LeRibeus worked out of a two-point man-blocking scheme, but he liked his first experience zone blocking when his team did so at the East-West Shrine Game in January.

“We did a lot of it at the Shrine Game, and I felt more at home,” LeRibeus said. “Just getting in a three-point stance, exploding off the ball is something that I feel more comfortable with.”

LeRibeus has lived his entire life in Texas, moving to Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, in 2000. That doesn’t mean he has an affinity for the Cowboys, however.

“Definitely not,” LeRibeus said. “I’m one of those – you either hate ‘em or you love ‘em, and I definitely hate ‘em. No worries.”

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