Fleming Island, FL

Former Fleming Island High football player signs with NFL team

Tony Salazar

Former Fleming Island Golden Eagle and Wake Forest Demon Deacon linebacker Ryan Smenda Jr signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Rams following the 2023 NFL Draft Saturday night.

Of the 259 draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, Smenda was not selected by any team through seven rounds. However, Wake Forest’s Twitter account announced that Smenda signed with the Rams hours after the final round of the draft ended.

In 56 total games played, Smenda has a career total of 355 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception for the Demon Deacons. Smenda was on the 2021 Preseason Second Team All-ACC by Pro Football Focus and the 2020 Preseason Phil Steele Preseason All-ACC Second Team.

Smenda is one of 21 undrafted free agent signees with the Rams and one of three undrafted inside linebacker signees. Smenda and the other two undrafted linebackers will have a higher chance to make the team than other undrafted players due to the lack of depth on the current Rams roster at inside linebacker. Not including the undrafted free agent, PFF currently has only three linebackers on the Rams roster when teams normally carry five to six during the season.

Smenda will get an opportunity to flash his talents in front of the Rams’ coaches at Rookie Minicamp, which normally happens around the middle of May.

Smenda graduated from Fleming Island in 2018 and was a three-star recruit on multiple recruiting websites coming out of high school. Smenda was a three-year varsity starter and a two-year team captain for the Golden Eagles. Smenda finished his career with Fleming Island with 175 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss, three blocked punts, four blocked field goals and one interception as a senior, according to the Wake Forest website.

Smenda was also a three-time state district champion and two-time region champion in high school wrestling. Smenda signed with Wake Forest out of high school over offers from Akron, Alcorn State, Appalachian State and Charleston Southern.

Photo byRyan Smenda's Instagram

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I am a graduate of the University of North Florida with a major in communication with a focus in journalism and a minor in sports management.

Green Cove Springs, FL

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