Quigley’s long journey from Little River to the NY Jets

North Myrtle Beach’s Ryan Quigley recently became the first player in the history of North Myrtle Beach football to sign and play with an NFL team. Quigley, who graduated in 2008 from NMBHS played college ball at Boston College before signing with the Chicago Bears for the 2012 season. Although listed on the roster for the opening game of the season, he never made it on the field and was released the following week. It’s been a journey of perseverance, faith, and community support for Quigley, who is now the starting punter for the NY Jets.

At North Myrtle Beach High school, Quigley was a first team All-State kicker and South Carolina Special Teams player of the year. He continued that success at Boston College, breaking numerous school records and becoming the school’s all-time leader in career punts with 283 punts for 11,418 yards.  When the NFL draft rolled around, many thought he might get selected. While his name wasn’t called, his phone rang the following day and the Chicago Bears were interested. Quigley was brought in for a tryout and kept on through mini-camp and into the preseason. Chicago’s returning punter had been injured during the pre-season and Quigley was expected to start for the season opener, but it wasn’t to be. Adam Podlesh returned, and Quigley was released.

Quigley left the Bears wondering if he’d ever see the NFL again. “When I left the Bears, I came back home and ended up going to Charlotte. I wanted to get away and keep training,” said Quigley.  “I did some substitute teaching in Charlotte, but I was sitting and watching games each week and waiting for a call. It was a long season, because there weren’t any calls. It got a little frustrating, but I had a lot of support from my friends and my family.”

He returned to Boston College in the spring of 2013 to finish his degree. “It was great to be around friends, and be around coaches and around football. That really motivated me to keep going,” said Quigley.

While still attending BC, Quigley signed up for a showcase that would put him in front of coaches around the league. A week later, the call came from the Jets.  They invited several punters to come in for a workout. “I ended up getting signed the day after the workout. I needed to leave school with one more month left, but I spoke with my instructors and they allowed me to attend the off season workouts and go to school. I ended up having to drive back and forth to Boston, but I was able to finish up getting that degree. With BC you have to take the courses on campus, you can’t do it online. I got a degree in Marketing and a Degree in Management, a double major.”

Getting that degree certainly made his parents happy, both are lifelong educators. “After getting that degree, that was a big relief,” Quigley remembers. “When I got cut from the Bears, I was unemployed and didn’t have my degree. You kind of get that feeling of what am I doing?”

Quigley kept working out during the summer with a date to return to the Jets for pre-season training. He remembers a great camp, but he knew that returning punter Robert Malone might be the Jets first choice. “I was hitting the ball well, but I kind of knew. After the third game, I struggled a little bit and it was well deserved for Malone,” said Quigley. Before the 2013 season began, the Jets released Quigley in favor of Malone.

Quigley kept working toward his goal as Malone struggled for the Jets. “I knew I had to stay ready. Family, friends, and coaches all told me to stay ready and keep pursuing it. I ended up going out to California to stay with some buddies and I was going to train out there. We were going to the USC/BC game and I got the call that Friday (September 13th) from the Jets to work out that Monday.”

Quigley dropped everything and headed to New Jersey in order to get his mind right for the tryout.  “I knew that I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to be with the Jets,” he said.

“I had a good workout and they told me they wanted to move forward and we had practice that afternoon. Now, I’m here,” said Quigley.

Quigley has performed well with the Jets in his first few games in the NFL. He’s their starting punter and is also responsible for holds on point-after attempts, and field goals. He’s averaging 44 yards per punt and has been the holder on two game-winning field goals including the overtime win against the New England Patriots.

He is currently signed on a game to game basis and receives $25,312.50 per game, the league minimum. He’s focused on saving money, and football. According to the NFL Players Association, the average career of an NFL punter is 4.87 years, the longest of any position on the field.

At 23 years old, the 2008 NMBHS graduate works 6 days a week, with Tuesdays off, and is sharply focused on his game. “Sometimes when I’m here I get so caught up in the weekly routine, you forget how lucky you are and how much work it took to get here,” said Quigley.

Quigley hasn’t forgotten the people that got him to his current position. “I always said that if I was ever fortunate enough to get in this position, with the way I was raised, I was taught that it was important to give back to those that helped you along the way. There are so many people that helped me get to this spot. I plan on working my way around to thank all those people, but first and foremost I have to stay focused on this team and this season so that I can stick around.”

His faith and belief in God are credited by Quigley as important factors in achieving his dreams. He credits his church family at King of Glory Lutheran Church, along with the community support.  Quigley was quick to add, “My church family has really been very supportive of me, as have my friends and family and coaches. Make sure you say that I’m very thankful to everyone for believing in me and encouraging me.”

“I also think back to our community. It’s such a close knit community. I never forget about that part of it. Our area has such a love for sports, high school and college,” said Quigley.

North Myrtle Beach High School athletic director Joe Quigley, father of Ryan, continues to reiterate to Ryan that there is a purpose to everything he does. “God has a plan for everyone, and if it’s His plan, then things will work out.  This road he’s traveling has a purpose,” Joe added. “My wife and I encourage our kids to do the right things, treat people honestly, and work hard. I can’t tell you how many times he’s been out on the field in the summer. Because of his work ethic, it’s paying dividends.”

Ryan Quigley may be in front of millions every Sunday afternoon in the green jersey of the NY Jets, but he most certainly hasn’t forgotten the people and beliefs that got him there. The 6’3 punter is as humble as they come, adding, “Anytime someone makes it from our area, wow, to be one of those people to get to do it. It’s a dream come true.”

Photos courtesy of the NY Jets

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One response to “Quigley’s long journey from Little River to the NY Jets”

  1. […] Bears punter Adam Podlesh. Once Podlesh came back from his injury, however, Quigley was waived, and nearly gave up on the NFL entirely. He finished his degree at BC and waited for the phone to ring. In April of 2013, he tried out for […]

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