Randy Moss is helping UMass WR Andy Isabella transition into the slot
Written by Eric Yunker, in Section Articles
Under the tutelage and guidance of one of the greatest football players to play his position, University of Massachusetts dynamic deep threat, Randy Isabella, might be switching things up a bit - including switching from wideout, where his blazing 4.29 speed was able to make up for his lack of size (at 5’9 and weighing only 188 pounds the WR collected an impressive 102 rec, 1,698 yards and 13 td’s) to the slot receiver position.
The Following Article was Originally Found at Patriots Wire
Under the tutelage and guidance of one of the greatest football players to play the position, University of Massachusetts dynamic deep threat, Randy Isabella, might be switching things up a bit - including switching from a wideout, where his blazing 4.29 speed was able to make up for his lack of size (at 5’9 and weighing only 188 pounds the WR collected an impressive 102 rec, 1,698 yards and 13 td’s) to the slot receiver position.
There’s a level of oddity with Randy Moss serving as Andy Isabella’s coach during the pre-draft process. Of course, it makes a lot of sense — Isabella was a burner in college, who toasted his opponents as a deep threat. That was Moss’ M.O.
At the same time, Moss told Isabella he can make his most immediate impact in the pros by transitioning to the slot. Moss, a historically good burner that lined up outside, is the one teaching Isabella to make that move inside. But it’s Moss — you’d be foolish to doubt he’s capable of coaching the University of Massachusetts product.
“He’s really tough on us, but I like that style of coaching,” Isabella said at the 2019 NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Friday. “He would have us out there running like eight 40 [yard dashes] and then get on the line and run five routes and then get back on the line and run eight more 40’s full speed. After my first day working out with him, I sat there on the field for like 30 minutes trying to drag myself to my car. The next day we were out there doing the same thing.”
Moss’ tough-love approach reminded Isabella of his college receivers coach, Leonard Hankerson. While Isabella repeatedly called Moss “intimidating,” that approach suited Isabella, whether he was getting it from Hankerson or Moss. Dropping a pass, for example, is sure to result in a loud scolding.
Conditioning has been a major emphasis as Isabella works with Moss. They’ve also worked hard on releases in the slot, one of the more challenging elements of the position. Playing inside, receivers can get mauled by physical cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage. Isabella was working on avoiding that contact while getting back to his “landmark” to make sure he ran each route properly despite the disruption.
“Randy’s definitely focusing on the inside because that’s where he thinks I’m going to start off at. And he says, based on my performances and my reputation in the league, hopefully my role is going to increase,” Isabella said.
At the combine, he measured in at almost 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds. He’d be a smaller receiver in the NFL, but he didn’t play like one in college. He had 102 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 16.6 yards per catch. He may have been terrorizing a lower level, but he was one of the most productive deep threats in the NFL. What likely interested scouts most was Isabella’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs when he had 15 receptions for 219 yards and two touchdowns. That secondary included likely first-round cornerback Deandre Baker.
When searching for an NFL comparison, Isabella provided a mishmash.
“I like Golden Tate’s toughness and his grittiness after the catch and I like Brandin Cooks’ speed to get open downfield,” Isabella said.
Cooks played with the Patriots. Tate has said he wants to. If Isabella figures playing in the slot will help him transition to the NFL, then New England might just be a great place to begin that process. Would he like to play for the Patriots?
“I think my girlfriend would like that,” Isabella said.
She’s not the only New Englander. It’s easy to imagine Isabella could quickly become a cult figure in the Patriots’ long line of undersized and overachieving receivers.
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