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Joe’s Journey: From Mobile to New Jersey in hopes of landing in the NFL

Back home and on the grind

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts long snapper Luke Rhodes (46) snaps the ball to punter Rigoberto Sanchez (2)/
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

[EDITOR’S NOTE: BBV contributor Joe DeLeone was a long-snapper for the University of Rhode Island. He is hoping for a pro football career, and we are detailing that journey as he goes through the process to try and make that happen.]

The overall goal for me throughout my path to continuing my football career is to gain attention. Being a lesser known prospect means fewer teams know about you. To accomplish this as a specialist from a small school I have to attend various scouting events leading up to my Pro Day. Participating in the College Gridiron Showcase was the first step.

Since then, I traveled to Mobile, Ala., for the Husted free agent and draft-eligible kicking camp. This camp is intentionally scheduled the week before the Senior Bowl so scouts can see the available free agents perform on the final day. Draft-eligible players, like me, are not allowed to participate in this final portion of the camp because of NFL rules.

My performance at CGS was admittedly not as good as I would have hoped, but I was very happy with the big step forward I took during the Husted camp. Overall I felt I showed a lot of consistency, but I do know there is a lot I need to improve on.

In my four years at Rhode Island, I played in a spread punt scheme that only required me to snap and cover. To make the jump to the NFL, snappers need to know how to block on punts. Because of this, I’m behind other snappers in my draft class who blocked during college.

Each week I’m focusing on not only refining my snapping but also transitioning to block and my blocking steps. It is a lot of daily reps and drills to clean these things up and maximize efficiency.

The final aspect that I’m focusing on in this process is my athleticism and my size. Over the final six weeks of training at TEST, a lot of time is spent improving my athletic ability. Thanks to great coaching I know the various cues in my athletic movements that need improving.

The clearest pressing issue right now though is my weight. I cannot do anything about the fact I’m only 5-foot-11. I’m currently at the absolute floor for height for long snappers considering Texans snapper Jon Weeks is listed at 5-10. However, the biggest difference is I started this process at about 200 pounds and I need to get up to more than 230. Right now I’m at 208 pounds.

Thankfully, as a part of my training program I meet weekly with a nutritionist who gives me specific calorie goals. That number fluctuates but is current at 4,500 calories per day. It’s been a lot of PB&J’s, Kaged Muscle supplements, and pre-made meals from Icon Meals.

In my first meeting with the nutritionist at Absolute Nutrition, I was recorded as having 16 percent body fat. The other complicated part is lowering that percentage to less than 12 percent. One of the hardest things to do when changing your physique is losing fat and gaining weight.

The largest difficulty of having to eat a lot of food is finding the right food. It sounds wonderful that I’m encouraged to eat that much, but if I eat junk I’m just going to get fat. To put on muscle mass I have to consume mostly natural foods and lean protein.

It certainly doesn’t help that everyone who I’ve explained my diet situation to tries to hand me whatever food is near them. If only it were that simple.

The final six weeks is one long grind. Every day is completing work for my online classes, doing work for BBV, and training for five hours. I’m locked in on reaching my goals in preparation for my Pro Day at the end of March.