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Lehigh makes case for NFL for Spadola
Lehigh football coach Andy Coen said that having a pro day that brings NFL scouts on to his campus is a positive for numerous reasons.
It obviously is good for the prospects the scouts are coming to see. And it’s good for the program because it obviously means the team has been doing something right.
But Coen also believes that it’s good for the Patriot League overall and shows what kind of talent the often under-appreciated, disrespected league truly has.
“I like to get this information [out] to let everyone know that there are a lot of good football players in this league,” Coen said. “Obviously, considering the way the season ended for us last year, our league is under-valued at the national level.
“So, if these kids can get themselves in an NFL camp, it’s great for them, it’s great for Lehigh, but it’s also great for the Patriot League. So, I’d like to take that angle.”
Scouts representing 15 NFL teams came to Lehigh on Tuesday afternoon, primarily to see All-American wide receiver Ryan Spadola, but they also got an up-close look at a couple other key members of a team that has gone 31-6 over the last three seasons.
In addition to Spadola, linebacker Billy Boyko, a Northampton High graduate, and defensive backs Gabe Johnson and Bryan Andrews tried to catch the eye of teams like the Eagles, Jets, Giants, Bucs, Raiders, Falcons and Steelers.
Because of the rainy weather, the testing was taken inside Rauch Field House.
Coming off an impressive showing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Spadola was already on the radar of teams and concentrated on improving his vertical leap and showing off his route-running and pass-catching skills.
His vertical leap improved by 31/2 inches from the combine to 37 inches.
“I wanted to perform the running events and do some other things, but when I woke up this morning and saw the weather, I talked it over with some of the scouts and my agent and we essentially decided that it wasn’t worth it.” Spadola said. “I put up some good numbers at the combine, and scouts were impressed with that.
“Today they pretty much wanted to see me run around and catch the football. All of the scouts gave me pretty good feedback and said that given the surface, they said I was coming out of breaks well, caught everything, exploded up field. Overall, considering the circumstances, it was a pretty good day.”
Spadola, who has been training in Florida for most of the past two months, said it was good be back on campus and playing pitch-and-catch with his quarterback, Mike Colvin.
“I was glad he was on spring break and able to be here,” Spadola said. “He’s a great guy with a great arm and it didn’t take us that long to get back in sync and reconnect. It helps to be familiar with the quarterback and Mike always puts the ball in a good position where I can make a play on it.”
With still more than a month to go before the NFL Draft, Spadola feels he is in a good position to have his named called from the podium at Radio City Music Hall.
But the work only intensifies from here.
“I’ll take a day off to get my legs back underneath, but I will pick it back up and continue working out and will see if I get called for any individual workouts,” Spadola said. “Teams have from now until April 9 to get that done and then I hope to work out at the Giants regional day on April 11. I just take it day-by-day and see what happens.”
That’s also the approach of Boyko, who had a sterling senior year in 2012 and earned all-league honors after an injury-plagued junior year.
“A lot of people like Ryan, obviously, coming out of the combine where he tested pretty well, but today gave Billy an opportunity to run around and show some things,” Coen said. “Billy can play. He kind of flew under the radar completely this year because he was banged up a lot as a junior and he started slowly out of the gate last year because he had some injuries in camp.
“Once he settled in, I thought he had a super year. He has good tape. People like what they see, but today he gave them some times and other things.”
Boyko wanted to thank everyone — God, his coaches, his family, his friends, his trainer Eric Markovcy — just for the opportunity to perform in front of NFL scouts.
“I was prepared and I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be,” Boyko said. “I thought I did well on the vertical [371/2] and I heard I did a 4.4 or a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. I thought I could have done more reps on the bench press.”
Boyko impressed enough to get asked to do additional testing for the Raiders and the Falcons.
“I thought I did well and I am just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where it takes me,” Boyko said. “At this point, whatever happens, happens. I am going to give it my best shot.”
By Keith Groller, The Morning Call