Shippensburg University quarterback Ryan Zapoticky did everything as a member of the Red Raider football team, sitting second all-time in career passing yards, setting a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback and winning 10 games for SU last season.
He now gets to realize his dream of playing in the NFL after being invited to attend Buffalo Bills rookie minicamp on Sunday, according to Steve Bennett of the Citizen’s Voice.
Zapoticky waited patiently as 13 quarterbacks were selected in the NFL Draft that took place from April 26-28. At the conclusion of the draft, with help from his agent and quarterback coach Tony Racioppi over the past few months to prepare, Zapoticky finally got the call from his agent, Cary Fabrikant, on Sunday, who told him Buffalo would be calling, according to the Citizen’s Voice.
“I was watching the draft on Saturday, and there was no news going into Saturday night,” Zapoticky told Bennett. “Sunday morning I got a call from my agent, and I got a call from Buffalo. They told me they were inviting me to rookie mini-camp. They told me what I do from there will indicate whether or not I will make the team, and we will just go from there.”
Zapoticky now hopes to relish the opportunity, after a strong 2017 season in which he threw for a career-high 2,952 yards and 25 TDs, while being named a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, a trophy that is awarded to the best player in Division II football.
Overall, Zapoticky threw for 7,102 yards and 62 TDs, while adding a school-record 1,259 yards on the ground by a quarterback.
Zapoticky rushed for 13 TDs and only threw 15 interceptions in his collegiate career. Zapoticky’s 78 career TDs ranks him first all-time in SU history for total TDs.
“Shippensburg was a great experience, the offense was great and the coaches were great,” Zapoticky told Bennett. “There was a lot of good talent around me. Going down there, I expected to get on the field early from what they told me during the recruiting process. It worked out. I was able to have a solid career. It was more than what I could have asked for.”
Working alongside Racioppi, Zapoticky progressed his footwork, as well as throwing mechanics. There Zapoticky met Giants backup quarterback Davis Webb, who brought in wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Evan Engram for work outs, according to the Citizen’s Voice.
“'I felt a lot better from the time I got out of Shippensburg and working with Tony,” Zapoticky told Bennett. “We went over the kinds of throws you would make in the NFL It is a different language and different steps. The verbiage in the NFL is different from what you would use in college. There were five or six quarterbacks working there. Davis came in and got his work in. Davis was not in the draft prep part, but he would be with us in the meeting rooms talking plays and fronts.”’
Zapoticky had previously worked out at Penn State University’s Pro Day, throwing passes to wide receivers DaeSean Hamilton and tight end Mike Gesicki — both of which got drafted by teams in this year’s draft — but it was at Villanova’s Pro Day that Zapoticky got his personal work in, according to the Citizen’s Voice.
Zapoticky will now look to prepare himself once he reports to camp on May 10. The Bills enter the 2018 season having just drafted quarterback Josh Allen out of Wyoming, while also having acquired former Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron as well as Nathan Peterman on their roster. Zapoticky will be competing with them for a chance to make the Bills roster after camp.
Zapoticky will also look to make a roster as a Division II quarterback, along with Texas A&M Commerce’s Luis Perez who is an NFL hopeful after winning a national title and the 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy. No Division II quarterback was on an NFL roster in 2017.
“This was the goal for me to do this coming into college,” Zapoticky told Bennett. “Going to Shippensburg gave me a chance to play football. I stuck to it and went through the process and good news came. It was really tough, frustrating at times. It was exciting when I got the call. Everything just changes on the switch of a dime. The scout from Buffalo told me I have a decent chance. As long as I do well they will take another look.”