After going undrafted in May and multiple failed attempts to catch on with a professional football team, hybrid player Cole Stanford found himself packing up his NFL dreams and getting ready to take up a job offer in Southern California — then the phone rang.
“I was just sitting at my house in San Luis Obispo Friday, preparing to move to Los Angeles for a job when I got a call from the New England Patriots player personnel department and they asked if I could be on a plane in 45 minutes,” said Stanford. “I said, ‘ya, I’d love to.”
When Stanford, who played multiple positions while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, arrived in Foxborough, Mass., he found himself in a competition with 10 other players, all vying for two roster spots.
“They put us through a workout that lasted about an hour and a half, then in the locker room they pulled me and another guy aside and told us they were going to keep us,” Stanford said.
And just like that, Stanford, a 2009 Nevada Union graduate, had earned a three-year contract with a Super Bowl contending professional football team, where he will play slot wide receiver.
“It’s been amazing,” Stanford said. “Working with the coaches, the training staff, the players and all the Patriots staff has been awesome. They hold themselves to a higher standard that is unparalleled by any other team in the league. They just have so much class and know how to get down to business.”
The blue collar approach to work is right up Stanford’s alley as he prides himself in being a hard worker and someone who will do anything to help the team win.
While at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Stanford played multiple roles. In his redshirt freshman year, Stanford played linebacker, then as a sophomore he became a special teams dynamo, then he evolved into a dual threat for the offense in his junior and senior seasons. With the Mustangs, Stanford rushed 54 times for 314 yards and one touchdown and caught 43 passes for 891 yards and eight touchdowns in his college career.
The slot receiver position is one that is featured in New England’s high-powered offense. For years, Wes Welker dismantled offenses from that spot before heading to Denver last season.
Julian Edelman picked up where Welker left off in 2013, with 105 receptions, 1,056 receiving yards and six touchdowns (all career highs).
Stanford said New England has tossed around other possibilities for him, including some time on the defensive side of the ball, but for now he will work hard to make the final roster as a slot receiver.
In Stanford’s senior year at Nevada Union, he stood out as a safety with 84 tackles and four interceptions. Stanford earned Delta League defensive MVP honors as a safety, was named to the All-Sac-Joaquin Section first team as a safety, and helped the Miners to a 10-2 season.
He also caught 29 passes for 474 yards and three touchdowns, and returned three punts for touchdowns in a single game against Franklin.
Stanford said he knows his Nevada County fans wish him the best and said he hopes to make them proud.
“I’m doing my best out here for everybody at home,” he said.
Stanford had previously had tryouts with the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.