Former Shippensburg University quarterback Ryan Zapoticky took the next step toward a career in the NFL last Tuesday by participating at Penn State University’s Pro Day.
Zapoticky threw 100 passes to Penn State NFL hopefuls DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki, since Penn State did not have a quarterback on hand to throw passes.
After hearing the news that the Nittany Lions were in search of a quarterback, Zapoticky made a few phone calls, sent over some film and was given the opportunity, according to Derek Levarse of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.
“I knew Penn State didn’t have a quarterback for today, so I reached out and just asked if they had anybody,” Zapoticky said to Levarse. “Sent a nice email with my highlight film and everything, and the coaches got back to me.” Zapoticky found out he received the chance to throw passes at the Pro Day when Penn State strength coach Dwight Galt gave him the job, according to Levarse.
To prepare, Zapoticky spent a week throwing passes to Hamilton and Gesicki, and was grateful for the opportunity.
“It was crazy,” Zapoticky said to Levarse. “More than I expected coming in. I had about 12 minutes of work, but it felt like an hour. Lot of footballs, a lot of work and it was good work today. Just happy to be here.”
Zapoticky left SU second on the all-time passing list behind only Zach Zulli, who had a short stint with the Seattle Seahawks after graduation. Zapoticky finished his career with 7,102 yards and 62 touchdowns, to just 15 interceptions.
He also became the first quarterback in school history and ninth in conference history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a career. Zapoticky finished his career with 1,259 rushing yards.
Zapoticky was able to throw in front of representatives from each of the 32 NFL teams, which is something he told Levarse he will not forget anytime soon.
“It was huge,” Zapoticky said to Levarse. “Penn State, growing up, that’s the school you want to go to as a Pennsylvania kid. It didn’t work out that way, but to be able to come here and help their guys out on Pro Day and them help me out, it was great.”
Zapoticky also expressed his appreciation for Hamilton and Gesicki, who have had their draft stocks rise considerably from the start of the 2017 season.
“They were a huge help,” Zapoticky said to Levarse. “Down-to-earth guys, they’re not egotistical or anything. They were here to work all week long, and I respect that. That’s going to get them big places, too.”
Zapoticky has spent the last few months preparing for the NFL Draft with quarterback coach Tony Racioppi, who has worked with multiple quarterbacks from lower divisions to prepare them for the NFL.
Racioppi has called Zapoticky one of “The Top 10 arms in the draft.”
Zapoticky has showcased a strong form of preparation and put together an incredible college career at SU, and is looking to break new ground in the NFL.
According to NCAA.com, just 90 players from the Division II level were on NFL rosters at the beginning of the 2017 season.
Of those 90, not a single one was a quarterback.