This week, the Jets cut a longtime Jets fan favorite receiver Braylon Edwards. While Edwards has been battling injury, he had been playing with, ahead of and behind one of the team’s free agent receivers, Ryan Spadola. Nate Taylor writes in the New York Times today about Ryan Spadola’s story. Unlike many who make it even into NFL training camps, Spadola didn’t receive a scholarship like almost every other player around him, and his inconsistent play in college flipped the switch for him.
Spadola, 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds, described himself as a small kid when he was looking to play college football. A university’s academics were as important to him as its football program, he said, since he did not know if he would develop into an N.F.L. prospect.
Spadola, from Howell, N.J., never had a scholarship at Lehigh. He received some financial aid, but his parents paid most of his tuition.
Jason Miran, Lehigh’s wide receivers coach, said that three years ago the coaching staff was losing confidence in Spadola. Although he was athletic, he was inconsistent, often dropping passes in the first five games of the 2010 season. Against Harvard, he struggled in the first half and had two receptions.
“You’re one mistake away from sitting out of this game,” Miran told Spadola in the locker room.
Miran said that sparked Spadola’s transformation. In the second half, he had 12 catches, tying the program’s single-game record. He finished with 206 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the go-ahead score.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comGreat article, definitely worth the read.
When the Jets picked him up, I liked Spadola and noted he was rated as one of the very best UDFAs in the class, but I confess that I guessed that it would be Zach Rogers who would do more to challenge for one of the spots. At this point, if given the choice, I have to imagine that Jets would likely choose Spadola to keep safe through the cutdown process. I like both players quite a bit, but protecting Spadola while on the practice squad might be harder to do at this point.
Spadola has helped provide a spark to the WR unit, as has Clyde Gates and a few others.