Abiola Aborishade continues to hope for a tryout with the Patriots

Abiola Aborishade continues to hope for a tryout with the Patriots

LOWELL, Mass. -- Abiola Aborishade was mostly silent as he stood in front of a group of Sports International Football Camp attendees at UMass Lowell on Tuesday.

He was a guest counselor for the day, but so were Patriots running back Tyler Gaffney and Patriots corner Justin Coleman, and most of the attention was focused on them. Gaffney spoke about being drafted and his experience going through the NFL Scouting Combine. Coleman recalled what he considered his best game as a rookie, a Divisional Round win over the Chiefs in January.

Though neither player has been a pro for long, in campers' eyes they had the cachet that came along with occupying coveted spots on the Patriots roster. 

Aborishade was known simply for wanting one. 

His journey -- detailed here by MassLive's Kevin Duffy -- went viral in May after he spent the previous month standing outside Gillette Stadium looking for a tryout. He dutifully made is way to Route 1 in Foxboro nearly every day, early enough to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick drive into work, and he waited there, his cleats at the ready.

Newsrooms across the country quickly picked up on the story of the former Division 3 receiver out of UMass-Dartmouth who was spending time in between shifts at Enterprise on the side of a road, holding a sign that read, "talented hardworking athlete hoping for a chance to prove myself."

Aborishade's name found its way into publications as far away as the San Jose Mercury News and onto websites of national outlets like and Local television stations, including CSN, caught up with him as well. 

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown tweeted his support for Aborishade to his more than half-a-million followers, and Patriots corner Malcolm Butler posted to Instagram a picture of Aborishade with a caption that read in part, "this is the attitude you must have if you really want something."

Since then, nearly three months after he began his waiting game, Aborishade is still making his way to Foxboro almost every day. He's still waiting. 

"I'm still there," he said. "I was there [Monday]. It was actually one of the nicer days because the weather wasn't too bad. I saw a couple players. I saw [Julian] Edelman, and I saw Josh McDaniels. It's pretty cool. It's nice to see that some of the guys are still in there even during their break. It shows that they're still working hard and trying to be the best that they can be even in the offseason."

Many players and coaches have spent the last few weeks away, making the most of their time off before training camp begins later this month. But Aborishade continued to show up despite the dwindling number of team personnel that drove by him on a daily basis. 

"I don't really get a vacation," he said, "because I'm not where I want to be yet. I gotta keep working."

There is a small measure of celebrity that has come along with being the subject of a story that burned as brightly and quickly as Aborishade's did this spring. He says he's been noticed at Texas Roadhouse in Norwood. He says he's been recognized by kids he's never met. And Patriots players now know his face. A few have even stopped to chat with him before they continue on their drives away from the stadium.

"If I could just put it in one word, it'd just be dedication," Coleman said of Aborishade. "Every morning, I drive to Gillette and I see him on the corner. First I was like, 'Who's this guy just standing on the corner, holding a sign every day?' 

"I finally realized, he really wants an opportunity he really wants to get that chance. Not many people get that opportunity. For him to just stay out there and show that he really wants it that bad, it shows you great determination. He has a drive in him that a lot of other people don't have."

Aborishade appreciates it when players stop to talk, or when he's recognized around town, or when reporters ask him about what he's doing. But it's all still a little odd to him. 

"I feel like I haven't accomplished anything yet," he said. "But at the same time, I know I need this media coverage to get noticed. Coming from a small school, UMass-Dartmouth, a D-III program, not many scouts or media are coming to look at athletes over there. And I feel like this is an opportunity for me to actually branch out and show the world what my goals are, you know?"

The goal right now is to keep at it. Though a tryout is highly unlikely, he plans to stick with his approach. 

He's tried to use social media. He says he's tried an agent. Those avenues haven't worked so he'll continue to wait.

"Honestly, since I was a kid, this is what I've wanted to do," Aborishade said. "That's motivation in and of itself. Not quitting. I don't like to quit anything I do. I want to finish it to the end, I want to work as hard as I possibly can to actually achieve that goal. This is one of those things. A lot of people have said they want to play in the NFL, a lot of them have already quit, they've already given up.

"I want to show that I'm willing to work hard in whatever it is, if it's special teams, if it's standing there and watching, whatever it is. I'm willing to do any of it. Football is my passion. It's what I've wanted to do my whole life."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."