Green athlete is gunning for the NFL

Andrew Molitoris competes in Indoor Gridiron league

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He may be smaller than the average football player, but a Green Township resident is not letting anything stand in his way.

Andrew Molitoris has been hitting the gym extremely hard for the last six years in the hopes of playing professional football and finally, the 23-year-old Fairleigh Dickinson University grad is well on his way to making all of his wildest dreams a reality.

Molitoris was a first round draft pick to play for the New Jersey Bulldawgs in the Indoor Gridiron League. In his first game against the Frankford Chiefs, the wiry wide receiver helped his team to a 36 to 20 win, as he made two touchdowns and four catches at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on April 27.

And his team keeps winning — they are 4-0 so far with the last victory coming over the Del Val Eagles Saturday, May 18. Andrew had four catches that game to support a 40-18 blowout.

The grandson of a Marine Corps Colonel and former head football coach for Boonton High school, Joseph Molitoris (who coached NFL running back great Jim Kiick), Molitoris played football for Newton High School and then for FDU Madison, graduating in 2012 with a hospitality major.

A lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, Molitoris has wanted to be a pro football player since he was a child.

"My goal is playing in the NFL," Molitoris said. "I hope we have a great season and win a lot of games.”

His hope for the future is to get called up to another team and he is counting on his speed, great hands and attitude to take him to the next level. He explains that players who do well in the arena league do move up whether it’s to play for the NFL or an NFL practice squad. Molitoris is waiting for that call and he says that he is one of the two players on his team currently being scouted.

Molitoris credits his longtime trainer Terrence Sabor at the Parisi Speed School for helping him take his skills to the next level.

“Without Terrence, I definitely would not have made it to this level and I owe a lot of credit to the past seven or eight years of working hard with him to get here,” Molitoris said.

Sabor has been working with Molitoris since he was 16 and has watched him grow from a scrawny kid weighing around 115 pounds to the brawny five-foot-nine, 180-pound man that he is today.

“His progress has been remarkable,” Sabor said, adding that Andrew’s strength and mentality have improved over the years. “He has gotten more serious."

Right now, Sabor and Molitoris are working to address the biggest challenge that Molitoris faces as he strives to take his game to the next level — his size. To help Molitoris compete on the same level as players three times his size, flexibility and speed are key. But what Molitoris lacks in stature, he makes up for in heart and his love of the competition, Sabor said.

“He can pretty much bench press over 315-pounds and he squats over 400,” Sabor said.

Molitoris puts in at least four hours a day, five times a week of hard training under Sabor’s direction whether it’s lifting, running routes or catching passes and he says the hard work is the key to his success.

His former position coach, Kieran Brennan, at Newton High School agrees. Brennan recalls Molitoris as a very talented young man with a great work ethic. “He just outworks everybody," Brennan said. “He was always a gym rat.”

Brennan says Molitoris is probably the most talented kid he has worked with and he’s gotten the furthest of any player that either he or his father has coached at Newton.

Molitoris caught Brennan's eye in his junior year of high school when he played for the JV team and by senior year he was starting. Brennan says a lot of people doubted that Molitoris would make it this far, but hard work is addictive and when you find a little bit of success it keeps you going.

Molitoris began to live in the weight room as he got closer to graduation and that time he put in to develop his strength is paying off now.

“He has that dream and he’s following it,” Brennan said.

The indoor competition is fiercely competitive and Molitoris says he is still progressing as a player and getting used to the challenges of a new game. The most obvious differences between regular football and the arena game are the ball and the smaller field — from 100-yards down to 50.

Molitoris says it’s a pretty rigorous game with nothing out of bounds except the walls.

The owner of the New Jersey Bulldawgs, Anthony Jones, has a lot of good things to say about him and his work ethic.

“He is one of the stronger more talented and coachable athletes on the team," Jones said. "What we really like about Andrew is the strong family base he brings to the team. He is definitely going to get some votes to play in the all-star game after the season, and he is also going to play in the Army/Navy arena game in the next 3-5 weeks (when it is scheduled).”

Halfway through the season, Andrew’s team is still undefeated and gunning for the championship game at Orlando at the end of the year.

His plans for the future? He hopes to get picked up by an Arena 1 or NFL team.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing for the NFL," Molitoris said, "And if the indoor league comes knocking, I’m happy to play for them.”

— Warren Westura contributed to this story

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