SUMMIT, NJ - "Just Make It, Baby".
The Hilltop City's own Ryan O'Malley, Summit High School Class of 2011 and University of Pennsylvania Quaker -- who was signed to a free-agent contract by the Oakland Raiders following the NFL Draft in late April -- is currently at the Silver and Black's training camp pursuing his dream to play in the NFL.
The 6'7", 265-pound O'Malley is one of six tight ends in camp, and speculates that the team may take four tight ends on its 53-man roster, and place another on the team's 10-player practice squad.
O'Malley attended a three-day rookie camp in early May and then participated in a 10-day Organized Team Activity (OTA) program with the full training camp roster. He said that walking into the facility, adorned with images of Pro Football Hall of Fame greats such as longtime owner Al Davis, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Fred Biletnikoff, Howie Long and Marcus Allen, was "surreal."
"One of the first things you do after you arrive is an equipment fitting. I looked at the gear, saw the logo on the helmet and said to myself 'this is actually happening."
As for the football part of the experience so far, O'Malley said, "You just keep your head down and work hard. My head was definitely spinning the first week, but I just kept studying the playbook and it started to click."
He is aware that, in the world of NFL player evaluation, every rep and every drill are being scrutinized. "Someone is always watching. They say 'the eye in the sky doesn't lie'."
After the OTA program, he was told to add five pounds to his frame, but acknowledges that "the mental part is more than half the battle." Before departing the Hilltop City for Alameda, CA, O'Malley admitted to being more anxious than nervous, but said "nerves are a good thing, as long as you control your emotions."
O’Malley earned All-Ivy League honors in both 2014 and 2015, while he and his Penn teammates captured the 2015 Ivy League title, a feat he and the Quakers also accomplished in 2012.
In 2015, the 6'7", 265-pound O'Malley caught 20 passes for 202 yards and scored three touchdowns. His longest catch of the year was a 25-yarder, he averaged 10.1 yards per catch, and scored a 14-yard touchdown against Cornell in the Ivy League clincher. For his Quaker career, O’Malley caught 43 balls for 495 yards and nine touchdowns.
O'Malley was a four-year member of the Summit High School Football Team as a wide receiver and defensive end. He was part of the Hilltopper team that captured the State Championship n 2009.