Amendola talks Pats, new Tech staff
The New England Patriots needed someone to replace the versatile Wes Welker. Signing the comparable Danny Amendola was a no-brainer.
Amendola already did it once at Texas Tech.
"I've been there before," Amendola told RedRaiderSports.com's Chris Level and co-host Brian Hanni on their Lubbock radio show "Tech Talk" on Double T 104.3 FM.
"I've done it before when I came into Lubbock. He left and I kind of came in and so I guess I have a little bit of experience doing it so far."
The comparisons between Amendola and Welker go way beyond their alma mater.
Both players were very lightly recruited in high school. They both became elite versatile college receivers and kick returners despite being regarded as undersized. The most inspiring thing though, they both clawed their way into NFL stardom while fighting the 'system' label the whole way.
Welker exhausted eligibility in 2003 and was signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent. He was released after one regular season game and the Miami Dolphins claimed him off waivers. The 5-foot-9 athlete climbed to the third receiver on the depth chart, but the Dolphins were a struggling team.
A clueless neighbor in Miami had no idea Welker played for the Dolphins based on his size and joked that must be why the Dolphins were so bad.
That all changed in 2007 when Welker was signed by the New England Patriots and plugged into an offense quarterbacked by Tom Brady that achieved an amazing 16-0 regular season and finished the year with a shocking 17-14 loss in Super Bowl XLII.
Things only got better for Welker from there as he became a staple of a spread offense and was supplemented by a strong offensive line, decent running backs corps, the NFL's best tight end depth, quality receivers, and an elite quarterback.
Like you see with many other good players on successful teams, however, Welker became too expensive for the Patriots this offseason after being franchised last year and was signed away by the Denver Broncos where he'll be paired up with another elite quarterback in Peyton Manning.
So the Patriots have turned to Amendola to fill the void after a very similar career path in the NFL to this point.
Amendola was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008 by the Dallas Cowboys where he spent the year on the taxi squad. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Amendola away in 2009 but then waived him and re-signed him to their practice squad.
Like Welker in Miami, the St. Louis Rams gave Amendola a shot to play with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford, but the Rams are in serious rebuilding mode.
The knock on Amendola is that he has been injury prone. But his injuries have been freak accidents and not of the chronic variety.
So the 5-foot-11 Amendola was offered a $31 million contract by the Patriots with $10 million guaranteed and is now getting his shot with an aging, yet still robust, New England squad in the midst of fans' disgruntlement with losing Welker.
Amendola said he can see why fans make the comparisons between Welker and himself, but he is on his own journey through the NFL.
"I've been watching Wes for 10 or 12 years," Amendola told Level and Hanni. "I'm blessed with the opportunity. I'm excited for it. I know Wes is excited to be a Bronco now and kind of move on with things. We're all trying to look for the best opportunity we can and run with it."
What has people back in Lubbock fired up is one Red Raider is replacing another Red Raider.
Welker visited Lubbock last summer and Amendola is in town right now to check out what his college program has been up to since 2007.
The new Bronco has talked a little about his former college teammate and new Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury on his Twitter account and, likewise, Amendola lined up alongside new inside receivers coach Eric Morris at Tech.
"I had been back one time, but I hadn't really been back to see the guys," Amendola said. "I walked in to see the guys yesterday and the vibe is different. You feel like it's kind of that swagger. That old Mike Leach mentality, but kind of younger and youthful and improved. Everybody is from Tech or from Lubbock and the pride runs deep.
"Everyone's pissed off and wants to win games. It's really, really exciting. It's one thing to go back and to see coaches, but to actually have the guys with you played in the house and running the show -- Like Coach Kingsbury said when he got hired, this is personal. When you walk in the building you really sense that."