Posted: 02/01/2013 | Last updated: February 1, 2013 at 09:05 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Later this month, Lehigh All-American wide receiver Ryan Spadola will look to impress National Football League scouts when he participates in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Spadola will have another opportunity to showcase his talents on Saturday when he will participate in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game in Allen, Texas.
Spadola will be the second Lehigh football player in the last three years to participate in a major college All-Star game. Will Rackley, who prior to Spadola was the last Mountain Hawk to be invited to the combine, played in the 2011 East-West Shrine Game, before the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him in the third round (76th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game features 108 players and matches the top collegiate players originally from Texas or who play college football in Texas against top players from around the nation. Spadola is one of six wide receivers on The Nation squad. He will be working with quarterbacks Matt McGloin (Penn State), Ryan Griffin (Tulane) and Matt Brown (Illinois State).
“It is humbling to be invited to this game with many of the top players in the country at their respective positions,” Spadola said. “It’s a great opportunity for me personally. I’m going to try to give it my all and show the scouts that even though I come from a smaller school, I can compete against the top defensive backs and make plays for the offense. It has been an awesome experience so far, and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it.”
Spadola led the Mountain Hawks in receiving in each of the last three seasons, finishing with 232 catches for 3,611 yards to rank second in school annals in both categories. A three-time first team All-Patriot League selection, Spadola led Lehigh with 57 receptions for 851 yards in 2012, despite missing two games with mononucleosis. As a junior he set school single-season records for receptions (96) and yards (1,614) while adding 11 touchdowns. Spadola was the leading receiver on Lehigh’s Patriot League championship teams in 2010 and 2011.
For the last month, Spadola has been preparing for the combine and the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game by training at Fit Speed Athletic Performance in Weston, Fla., a facility run by Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
A supply chain management major with a 3.34 cumulative grade point average, Spadola was recently named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll after posting a 3.54 GPA in the fall semester. He is a two-time member of the Academic All-Patriot League team and was twice named to the Capital One Academic All-District II Team.
Spadola finished the fall semester 15 credits short of earning his degree. After consulting with Lehigh head coach Andy Coen and members of the Lehigh faculty, Spadola decided to take a leave of absence from the university while he pursues his dream of playing professionally.
“Once the combine invitation came out I wanted to focus on football because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something that has always been a dream of mine,” Spadola said. I felt that the best way to do that was to take a leave of absence from school and handle business in the front end with football first.
Spadola continued, “I talked to coach Coen and the faculty to go over the process if I were to take a semester off and what it would mean going forward. They were all supportive. Earning my degree is something that is also very important to me, and I plan on finishing up when time opens up, whether it’s in the fall or next spring.”
The fifth Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game is set for Saturday at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. (CST), and the game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Southwest.