Sept. 5, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Four former Patriot Leaguers will start the 2013 season on active NFL rosters when their teams kick off on Sunday.
For the fourth straight season, a recent Patriot League graduate made an NFL roster out of training camp as wide receiver Ryan Spadola (Lehigh) earned a spot on the New York Jets after joining the squad as an undrafted free agent. Spadola joins returning veteran offensive lineman Will Rackley (Lehigh/Jacksonville Jaguars), linebacker Blake Costanzo (Lafayette/Chicago Bears) and defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus (Fordham/New Orleans Saints) to comprise the Patriot League contingent in the NFL to open the 2013 season.
Spadola made the Jets roster following an outstanding preseason where he led the team with 13 receptions and 216 receiving yards. He made two huge plays in the team's 24-21 overtime win against the New York Giants on Aug. 24, catching a 22-yard touchdown pass for a 21-18 lead late in regulation and notching a 70-yard reception to set up the winning field goal in overtime.
Spadola is the fifth Patriot Leaguer in the last four seasons to make an active NFL roster out of training camp, following Fordham's John Skelton (2010), Rackley and Abdul-Quddus (2011) and Colgate's Nate Eachus (2012).
Rackley enters his third season in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who selected him in the third round (76th overall) of the 2011 draft to make him the highest-ever pick out of the Patriot League. He is expected to play a key role for the team on the offensive line after missing last year with an injury.
Costanzo is the veteran of the group, entering his second season with the Chicago Bears and seventh as an active NFL player. Abdul-Quddus is in his third year at defensive back with New Orleans. Both players earned their place in the NFL despite going undrafted.
Sunday's openers have all four Patriot League alums playing at home in 1 p.m. kickoffs. Cincinnati at Chicago and Kansas City at Jacksonville will be available on CBS, with Tampa Bay at New York Jets and Atlanta at New Orleans on FOX. There are two matchups between Patriot League alums, both involving Abdul-Quddus and the Saints who visit the Bears on Oct. 6 and the Jets on Nov. 3 with both kickoffs at 1 p.m.
More information for all of the NFL players is included below, along with links to bios and twitter accounts.
Patriot Leaguers in the NFL
Blake Costanzo, Chicago Bears, Linebacker - The former Lafayette linebacker earned All-Patriot League honors in 2004 and 2005, and went to camp with the New York Jets (2006 and 2007) before earning his shot on the field in Buffalo late in the 2007 season. He played with the Bills again in 2008 before heading to Cleveland (2009-10),San Francisco (2011) and now Chicago (2012-13). He has emerged as a special teams standout at each location. In 75 career games, Costanzo has recorded 90 tackles (82 special teams/eight defense) with four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He had both a forced and recovered fumble in the 49ers' 36-32 win over the New Orelans Saints in the 2011 NFL Divisional Round, and was named to SI.com's All-Pro team as a special teamer in 2009.
Will Rackley, Jacksonville Jaguars, Offensive Lineman - Rackley was drafted in the third round (76th overall) in 2011, becoming the highest-ever pick out of the Patriot League. He started 14 games at left guard as a rookie to solidify a place on the line before missing action last season with an injury. Rackley was a four-year starter and three-time All-Patriot League selection at Lehigh, and earned numerous All-America honors as a senior in 2010.
Isa Abdul-Quddus, New Orleans Saints, Defensive Back - Abdul-Quddus signed with New Orleans in 2011, and was the only undrafted free agent to make the roster out of training camp. He appeared in 15 games with three starts at free safety in 2012, recording 36 tackles (24 solo), two interceptions, eight passes defensed and one fumble recovery. His career totals include 45 tackles (29 solo), two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, as well as 20 stops and two forced fumbles on special teams. Abdul-Quddus starred in the defensive backfield for Fordham recording 193 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, and ten passes defended in his career.
Ryan Spadola, New York Jets, Wide Receiver - Spadola is ranked second in Patriot League history in both receptions (232) and receiving yards (3,611). He was a three-time first team All-Patriot League selection and earned All-America honors following his sophomore season and again after his junior year in 2011, when he was a first-team honoree from three different organizations and set a Patriot League record with 1,614 receiving yards.