Freeny Signs with Hometown Team

After four years with the Rutgers football team, Florida native Jonathan Freeny returns to the Sunshine State to continue his football career. The defensive end signed a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins hours after the end of an excruciating 134-day NFL lockout.

For a rookie that is passed up in the NFL Draft, the waiting is tough enough without a lockout. But with the NFL lockout in effect for four months, the waiting game was excruciating for former Rutgers defensive end Jonathan Freeny.

Freeny realized his dream Monday when the 134-day lockout ended and he signed with the Miami Dolphins.

"This summer was crazy and not in a good way," Freeny said after joining the Miami Dolphins. "It was just waiting and waiting. Every time I'd turn on the TV, it was about these two sides can't agree and the lockout would continue. Thankfully, the progress came very quickly and God made a way to make it happen."

A knee injury hampered Freeny's speed and quickness on the field his senior season, where he made just 38 tackles and half a sack. But fighting fit after the season, Freeny performed well on the workout circuit and at Rutgers Pro Day and appeared in good shape to find a home at the end of the lockout.

Minutes after the end of the lockout, Freeny knew his dream would come true.

"It feels great," Freeny said. "It was killing day-by-day just waiting and then when it happened, it was a great feeling. The wait was worth it and I'll be playing at home.

"I was born in Tampa, but played my high school ball in Broward County. It's awesome having the chance to make a team that I grew up watching and having the chance to have family come to see me."

Freeny said he knew pretty quickly that he would end up in Miami.

"After the lockout came to a close and it was official on ESPN and everything, the Dolphins reached out to me and starting talking with me," he said. "We went over everything. We looked at the roster and talked about how this was my best chance to make it in the NFL and it was a mutual interest. It was a good fit for me and it was the best decision."

The New York Jets, who always keep an eye on Rutgers prospects and struck gold with Jamaal Westerman, were also in the mix, Freeny said.

"The Jets were involved pretty early, but the Dolphins showed the most interest," he said. "I'll have to tell Jamaal how close it came."

Now that he is a graduate, Freeny said he is very thankful for his time at Rutgers University as a student athlete. After seeing what former teammates like Westerman, Eric Foster and Tiquan Undewood did, Freeny feels he is prepared for the task ahead of him.

"I'm very confident, but not overconfident," Freeny said. "With Rutgers and Coach Schiano, they teach you from the first day the right way to go about things. You see how other Rutgers guys did in the past in the NFL and it's because of what they learned at Rutgers. When I worked out at the Dolphins and looked around the team, I saw a lot of what I saw at Rutgers where they teach you to be a football player and an adult."

With the Dolphins, Freeny said he is excited to play alongside former Penn State defensive end Cameron Wake. Freeny will also be a teammate of Jared Odrick, brother of Rutgers commit Julian Pinnix-Odrick.

"When looking at the roster, the one name that popped was Cameron Wake," Freeny said. "He's just a beast and it's crazy to think I'll be playing the same position on the same team as him."

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