It’s no secret that the New York Jets aren’t particularly deep at wide receiver this year. With Santonio Holmes‘ health in serious question, Braylon Edwards may be the only proven veteran left on the receiving corps. The Jets are hoping that both Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates can build upon exceptional training camps, but their production is far from guaranteed.
With such uncertainty among the cast of receivers, a few roster spots remain up for grabs.
Ryan Spadola is a 6-foot-3 undrafted rookie out of Lehigh. He had a stand-out junior year in which he caught 96 passes for 1,614 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he was slowed down in his senior year after contracting mononucleosis. Growing up in Howell, N.J, his father took him to several Jets games as a kid. He dreamed of the chance to play in the NFL.
When the Jets gave Spadola a look earlier this year, it was a long shot that he’d even come close to making their final roster. Now, it could become a reality.
He’s been one of the most impressive players throughout training camp so far, most notably after making an incredible diving catch on a 50-yard bomb from Geno Smith in practice. Spadola also caught a long jump-ball touchdown in the Green and White scrimmage.
He’s proven himself as a consistent hard worker and he’s flashed the ability to make big plays down the field. Rich Cimini calls Spadola this year’s “Cinderella story” of training camp, and that’s exactly what he is.
If you’re having trouble believing the idea that an undrafted and unheard-of receiver from a small school could make a real splash in the NFL, look no further than the Jets’ own Wayne Chrebet. Chrebet, also a New Jersey native, came to the Jets undrafted out of Hofstra in 1995 and just barely made the roster. He finished his career with 580 receptions, the second-most in Jets history.
Spadola might never pan out to be anything close to Chrebet, but he’s certainly a guy to keep an eye on for the rest of training camp. Based on how thin the Jets are at wide receiver, he actually has a pretty good chance of making the team. And if he does, it will literally be a dream come true.