Almost two full years out of pro football, the dream of resurrecting his career and playing the game again for a living in the CFL appeared to be fading.
But a phone call from the Saskatchewan Roughriders last Sunday changed all that. Lauther, a 26-year-old kicker from Truro, joined the Roughriders this week after being signed to the club’s practice roster.
“It’s been a long road to get back here, but I’m pretty excited for the opportunity,” Lauther said Thursday, a few days after getting settled into Riderville.
Lauther, a CEC graduate who played university football at Saint Mary’s in Halifax, was selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the seventh round (53rd overall) in the 2013 CFL draft.
That season, he connected on six of 10 field goal attempts and all 10 converts attempted in four regular season games.
He re-signed with the Ti-Cats in 2014 and spent time on the Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts practice rosters in 2015.
After brief tryouts with the Montreal Alouettes and the Argonauts last year, Lauther returned to the Maritimes, where he continued to hone his skills in the hope he would get another shot.
But as time went on and no teams expressed interest, Lauther had thoughts of moving on and pursuing a different career.
“I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t at that point a few different times,” he said.
Over the past two seasons, Lauther sent videotape and updates to CFL teams on his progress and to let them know he was ready if an opportunity came up.
He had a connection in Saskatchewan – Truro’s Scott Annand, the Roughriders’ football operations co-ordinator. Annand is familiar with Lauther, having coached him at both CEC and at Saint Mary’s. He shared video of Lauther with Roughriders special teams coach Craig Dickenson, and the decision was made to sign him.
“We happen to have an opening on our practice roster and we feel he would fit that slot nicely,” Annand said. “We wanted to get him out here and with coach Dickenson and see what he can develop into, and they are very optimistic and very impressed with the strength of his leg.
“It’s a crazy business, but a door opens and you want to walk through it, you take advantage of your opportunity.”
And Lauther intends to do just that.
“After playing for a couple of years and getting let go and not getting another shot again, you just work your butt off to get back and now that I’m here again I never want to let it go, so I’m doing everything I can to show them what I can do and just be a good teammate and put the work in in the gym and everything else.”
Lauther credits family and friends for picking him up during low times over the past two years and encouraging him to continue to chase the dream.
“I really have a lot of people to thank because a lot of my friends and family have just kept me going and have pushed me through a lot, so I owe a lot to other people.”
As a member of the practice roster, Lauther said it’s important to stay ready, both physically and mentally, should he get an opportunity to see game action.
“I’m just taking it week to week and trying to show them what I can do, not only for this season but for the future too, to hopefully get back on a roster and hopefully stick with it again.”
The Roughriders (4-4) host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-2) on Sunday in the Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium.