FOOTBALL: Quigley's NFL Dream Takes Flight With Jets
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 01:04
Punters are used to waiting. They spend most football games on the sideline, waiting for their turn. Four or five times a game, they will be called out onto the field where they get to wait for a snap. Then they take the ball and they let it fly, and now it’s time to wait and see if the ball will go where it’s supposed to. They trot back to the sidelines, and begin waiting again.
Ryan Quigley has spent the last year waiting. The former Boston College punter was added to the Chicago Bears roster last May after the NFL draft, and stepped in for then starter Adam Podlesh in the second preseason game when Podlesh sustained a hip flexor injury. Podlesh, however, returned for the Bears’ season opener, and Quigley was waived in early September.
“After sitting out a year, it really hits you,” Quigley said. “You’re away and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re sitting there waiting for a phone call. You kind of think you’re out of it a little bit.”
That call finally came for Quigley two weeks ago. The New York Jets had seen him punt in late March at the free agent combine in Arizona, and they wanted to bring him in for a workout. After watching other guys get an opportunity, Quigley now had his.
“Just like anybody, doubt creeps in,” Quigley said. “You see other another guy get a workout or get a tryout and you’re not getting that call.”
When Quigley got to the Jets workout facility, there were five other punters there. All of the coaches, including head coach Rex Ryan, showed up to watch the group of six.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Quigley said of the workout.
Each player would have just 16 punts to impress the room, with every punter kicking four and then rotating. Yet again, Quigley had to wait.
The Jets had him do different directional drills, pooch punts, and then they had Quigley try kicking off since he has experience there as well. When the drills were over, Quigley underwent a physical and was ready to get to the airport for his 4 p.m. flight.
While all of the other punters left, Quigley kept getting his flight pushed back. He thought it might be a good sign.
“I knew that something was good but I was waiting on them to pull the trigger,” Quigley said. “I didn’t know what was going on between the GM and my agent and stuff like that.”
Later that night, while he was sitting with the coaches, his agent told him that he had officially been signed by the Jets.
“I’m just blessed to have another opportunity,” Quigley said. “God really got me to this point. I’m just very lucky.”
Quigley feels optimistic about his opportunity to compete for the job with returning punter Robert Malone during camp.
“It’s a good opportunity for me,” Quigley said. “They want me to come in and compete. I’d say it’s a better situation than last year when I was coming into–Podlesh pretty much had that job locked up. Not to say that Malone isn’t a great punter. He was there last season. I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
Last season was Malone’s first with the Jets, his third in the NFL, and the first time he punted in all 16 games. Quigley will have to beat him out for the spot if he’s going to stay on the Jets roster during the regular season.
After a trying year spent waiting and hoping, Quigley is relieved he has another chance at the NFL and is thankful for the support he found at home and back at BC. He has spent the spring on campus finishing his degree in the Carroll School of Management.
“It’s been a long year, but what’s gotten me through it, like I said, is my relationship with God, but also the support I’ve had,” Quigley said. “Being home for the last season, I had great support from home and my community. Then coming to BC was probably the best thing. Being around BC again and being in classes, being with my friends, past coaches, they were always encouraging. Saying you’re fine, hang in there, you’re going to do it. It was really nice to hear that stuff.”
Although Quigley played for former head coach Frank Spaziani, he was embraced by Steve Addazio’s new staff when he got back to campus.
“It’s a new coaching staff so I didn’t know what to expect coming back, but they were very helpful,” Quigley said. “I love the new coaching staff. Coach Addazio is great. And, of course, [Director of Football Operations Barry] Gallup, he’s the rock of this place. He was there with anything I needed, helping me work out and stay in shape.”
Quigley is heading down to join the Jets as soon as he can, but first he still has two presentations, a few papers, and one more final to finish. His teachers are helping working around his new schedule, and he’ll be able to make the drive back on the weekends when he needs to.
“I’ve gotten this close, I want to make sure I finish school.” Quigley said.