This past week, former Lehigh star WR Ryan Spadola, who is currently looking to be one of those guys that play on Sundays, looked to make every moment of his appearance in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game matter.
That didn't just mean the game itself, where Ryan's stat line read 1 catch for 8 yards, a pass from Tulane QB Ryan Griffin, or the outcome, which was a 24-13 win for the (appropriately named) Nation team over Texas.
(In a strange twist of fate, Ryan didn't wear the gold helmet of Lehigh at the game, but more on that later.)
It also meant the positive press in the run-up to the game, and the large number of scouts available to see their progress.
In my exclusive Q&A with Ryan about his experience, I talk to him about his experience with the game, what he's been doing, and what's next for the Lehigh star.
Ryan: Although Texas vs. The Nation is an all-star game, the mentality I took going in was a business mindset. You're being analyzed not only on the practice field but how you hold/represent yourself off the field. Upon my arrival in Allen early Monday afternoon I was greeted and interviewed by many scouts. We were told there were 240 there. This went on until the evening hours. Tuesday through Thursday was when evaluating was really done. These days we had very intense practices followed by testing (HRT, Troutwine) and meetings. Friday we had a walk through and the rest of the day off them Saturday was the game. I was extremely fortunate and blessed to be part of this game and experience everything I did.
LFN: During the game, were you wearing an Arizona helmet or an Allen helmet? What happened to the gold helmet?
Ryan: Unfortunately I was shipped the wrong size helmet from Lehigh so I had to borrow an Allen High School helmet for the week. Although I would have liked to represent by wearing the gold helmet, I was thankful of the Allen staff to provide me with the equipment so I could participate in the practices.
LFN: How has your training in Florida helped you for the all-star game and your path to the NFL combine?
Ryan: Training in Florida has helped me immensely. I have been learning from two of the NFL greats at the receiver position in Brandon Marshall and Chris Chambers. They have helped provide me tips on how to gain separation and fine tuning routes. Along with their coaching I have been able to get great speed and strength training from talented trainers, specifically Matt Gates of Fit Speed Athletic Performance @FitSpeedAP. From ther training I have become more explosive which has helped improve my game.
LFN: Did you spend time with any specific players during the four days? Anyone you're friends with, or people you've gotten to know in this whole draft process?
Ryan: Throughout the week in Allen I spent most of my free time hanging out with my roommate Minnesota QB Marquise Gray (who played TE in all star game) and another one of my agents clients, Richmond FB/RB Kendall Gaskins. Down here in Florida I train and spend most of my time with a close group of six guys: Rutgers WR Mark Harrison, South Carolina CB Akeem Augustine, West Virginia DT Jorge Wright, Tennessee State RB Trabis Carter, Fort Valley State WR Eric McCree, and Eastern Washington WR Nick Edwards.
LFN: What was the best part of the whole experience?
Ryan: The best part of the experience was Thursday when we had a meet and great with the public. There were large numbers of kids who came walking around the tables asking for autographs and pictures with the players. It was humbling to see how those kids looked up to us players.
LFN: What's next on your agenda in the run-up to the NFL combine?
Ryan: I am now back in Florida and I will be here training at Fit Speed until the day I depart for the combine on February 21.