Like Kyler Murray, Cardinals’ Andy Isabella is an undersized underdog
Andy Isabella is shorter than Kyler Murray. He’s faster than Kyler Murray. What other NFL rookies can make such a claim?
Isabella is one of seven children. He has been described a ball of muscle. He played at UMass and would’ve been the perfect pick for the Patriots, just like N’Keal Harry would’ve been perfect for Arizona.
Isabella has a hardcore mentality. He has relentless ambition. He has great boyhood anecdotes, from falling asleep with a football to building NFL stadiums out of Lego pieces.
He’s fought bias, just like Murray. His high school coach described him as “cartoon fast.” According to NFL.com, Isabella once encountered a “40-yard dash timer at a 2014 SPARQ combine, who so refused to believe Isabella’s 4.39 clocking time that he made him run it three more times.”
Or the Oklahoma State recruiter “who withdrew a late scholarship opportunity less than 24 hours after extending it.”
That’ll change your perspective.
Like Murray, Isabella comes with elite production and tantalizing speed. Like Murray, the only drawback is height and physical stature. Isabella has a golden opportunity because of smaller, smarter slot receivers who’ve blazed a trail before him, guys like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
Murray owes the same debt of gratitude to pioneers like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.
“I’m excited to prove people wrong,” Isabella said. “To prove people I can play in this league.”
Isabella is cast from a great mold, a self-driven player with sure hands and iron will. To prepare for the NFL Draft, he purchased a Jugs machine. He paid his 10-year old sister $1 a day to feed footballs into the machine, and you can watch video of Isabella catching those balls while standing on one leg.
But, seriously. One dollar a day? For his kid sister?
“That was before the draft, so I was a little broke,” he said.
Isabella has since hooked his sister up with merchandise and apparel, the stuff that begins to populate the closet of a professional athlete.
But Isabella is more than just a draft pick, representing more than a new crop of wide receivers attending rookie camp. He is the pick the Cardinals received from the Dolphins in exchange for Josh Rosen.
That makes him a trivia question, a footnote to history and the player who will always be compared to the former Cardinals quarterback. And maybe this will end up as a winning proposition, especially if a speedy, intelligent, highly-competitive wide receiver flourishes in Kingsbury’s offense.
“I would always look up stats after my games to see what other teams are doing, and Texas Tech would always have 800 yards and guys would have 300 yards of receiving,” Isabella said. “And I was like, ‘What’s going on? Why am I not there?’
Isabella now finds himself in Arizona, for the first time in his life. Like Murray, he is an underdog and undersized. Superfast and tailor-made for Kingsbury’s Pro Raid attack.
Or so we hope.
Reach Bickley at email@example.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.