NFL is next stop for Big Green QB Jay Fiedler
The awards and records Dartmouth quarterback Jay Fiedler '94 owns are impressive, but beyond those numbers and awards are a passion and commitment -- a trait Fiedler hopes will bring him success after graduation, as an NFL quarterback.
Fiedler appears to have been blessed with exceptional talent and an athletic gift, but it is his work ethic, determination and dedication which have been the keys to his success on and off the field.
"What people can't understand about Jay is how hard-working he is. He has a commitment to being good that sets him apart from other quarterbacks," Head Football Coach John Lyons said.
"Not only does he work hard to physically prepare and strengthen his body, but he spends a lot of time becoming mentally prepared. He watches films, studies the plays and constantly looks for better ways to attack the defense."
In case you haven't heard of Fiedler, he is the first solo captain of the two-time Ivy League champion Big Green football team since 1968.
As starting quarterback for the past three seasons, Fiedler has redefined the Dartmouth football offense and rewritten the record books.
"He's the best I've seen in my 20 years of coaching," Lyons said. "He has a lot of qualities that make him really unique as a quarterback. He's one of the best competitors I've ever seen."
Fiedler's accolades certainly back that up -- two Ivy League titles, Ivy League player of the year, first team All Ivy League, third Team Associated Press All American, Dartmouth MVP for two straight years, Dartmouth's top graduating all-around athlete and the list goes on.
Throughout his career, Fiedler has been the picture of poise and performance, Lyons said. "He has tremendous confidence in his ability, which you need as a quarterback, without ever being arrogant. He doesn't get rattled."
In his years at Dartmouth, Fiedler gave Dartmouth fans incredible memories. Few will forget the 1994 season, with three come-from-behind victories in the final moments of the game.
For all the memories Fiedler has given Dartmouth fans over the years, he will take away a few of his own.
"My best memory is winning two Ivy League championships," Fiedler said. "Both Princeton games are great memories too. They were two of the best games that I've played in."
He added, "I will miss all my teammates. I've had a great time with them over the past four years."
While most seniors are worried about getting the perfect job or continuing their studies, Fiedler gets to play some more.
He has taken advantage of his opportunities throughout his career: he knows when to take the chance and run, when to hit the open man, when to go out on a limb at the line of scrimmage and change the play. He plans to seize his opportunity to play professional football.
There was a little disappointment when Fiedler was not selected in the draft, but he has learned to deal with disappointments.
"This past year was tough, especially starting off the season with a 1-4 record and losing that key game to Penn. We lost three games we should have won."
"I was supposed to be the leader and the captain and I was supposed to win those games for Dartmouth. It got very frustrating," he said.
Shortly after the draft, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Chicago and Philadelphia called Fiedler at his home and expressed interest in signing him as a free agent.
Fiedler picked Philadelphia. He said, "It was the best situation for me to break in and make the team."
The most influential factor in signing with the Eagles was the opportunity to move up in the ranks in the future as a replacement for their veteran quarterbacks.
On the Dartmouth field, Fiedler rarely felt insecure. But at the Eagle's minicamp he attended after signing, he felt far from Hanover.
"In three days they threw a lot on me. We were expected to mentally keep up with veterans, some of whom had practiced these plays for 10 years," he said. "After adjusting mentally following the first day of practice, it became much easier. I relaxed a lot more and just went out and played football."
What are his chances of making the Eagles?
"The Eagles are high on Jay. He impressed them with his athletic ability, his smarts and his punting ability at minicamp. He has a very good shot at being the third quarterback this year," Lyons added. "He will get a legitimate shot in the exhibition games. All he needs is a fair chance."
Fiedler thinks he has a good shot. "I'm going in expecting to make the team." he said. "If I don't, I'll probably just keep trying -- it's something that I really want to do."