Temple LB Yvandy Rigby talks meeting with NY Jets and his unique football journey

Yvandy Rigby details his unique football journey and the upcoming NFL Draft
Yvandy Rigby
Yvandy Rigby / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

NY Jets head coach Robert Saleh has long had a lot of say in his team's draft decisions over the years, specifically when it comes to defensive players on Day 3. One player who likely caught his eye is Temple linebacker Yvandy Rigby.

Born in Turks and Caicos, Rigby didn't start playing football until he moved to the United States for high school. The South Jersey native spent five years at Temple, establishing himself as a team leader and key defensive contributor by the end of his tenure.

Rigby is a prototypical Robert Saleh linebacker, and he recently met with the Jets during the lead-up to the 2024 NFL Draft. He's a potential target for the Jets on Day 3 of the draft this weekend.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the former Temple standout about his football journey and the NFL Draft process.

Below is only a partial transcription of our interview. To watch the interview in its entirety, be sure to click here and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don't miss out on any additional content.

Yvandy Rigby on growing up in Turks and Caicos

Justin Fried; "You were born in Turks and Caicos. What are some of your favorite memories growing up there?"

Yvandy Rigby: "Every beautiful place has its rough and rugged areas. It's a third-world country, so you basically have to get everything on your own. Seeing my mom work relentlessly as a maid for several years, just trying to put food on the table, taught me how to work extremely hard. My favorite memory in Turks and Caicos is going to the beach. Literally every beach on that island is amazing Crystal blue water. It was a pleasure growing up there. I look back and I'm like, I really used to live in paradise. It was gorgeous."

JF: "You ended up moving to the Atlantic City area just before the start of high school. How difficult was it to just adjust to a completely new environment like that?"

YR: "Oh my gosh. I mean, it was very hard. Just the cultural difference in itself is a dramatic change. My accent was different from how you guys speak. So thank God I didn't get made fun of for my accent a lot. I had several friends tell me I had a staring problem. I would just stare at people. So yeah, it was it was pretty difficult adjusting to the culture in this country."

Yvandy Rigby's introduction to American football

JF: "Obviously there’s not really an American Football scene in Turks and Caicos. What was your first introduction to American Football in the States?"

YR: "The first time I actually held an American football in my life was when I came to this country in my freshman year in high school. I had never held a football in my life. So just learning how to do all of that was hard. But it was worth it, and I'm happy I did it, and now look where I'm at. I didn't know how to catch a football to save my life. They threw the ball at me, and I just flashed my arms in front of me. It hit me in the face, and then everybody started laughing. But I needed that. I needed that moment of embarrassment because made me take the game extremely seriously. That gave me a chip on my shoulder. I knew I needed to get better if this was something I wanted to do. I remember literally sitting in my living room watching Peyton Manning demonstrate how to throw a perfect spiral. I wanted to learn every aspect of the game."

Yvandy Rigby on earning a single-digit number at Temple

JF: "There’s a longstanding tradition at Temple where you have to earn a single-digit jersey number. And you did, you wore No. 0 this past year. How much did wearing that single-digit number mean to you?"

YR: "Oh my gosh, it meant so much. I believe I'm the first defensive player to wear that number [in program history]. It's a certain standard, and you have to be a certain guy to actually wear a single digit. It was it was an honor. Coach [Sean] Drayton would do a really good job of emphasizing the honor of being a single digit."

Yvandy Rigby on entering the NFL

JF: "When did the NFL start to feel like a realistic goal for you?"

YR: "I've had changing aspirations for it, but I really didn't I didn't think of it in totality. I just kept the main thing the main thing. Whatever task I had at hand, I did it to the best of my ability, which set up the opportunity for me to even be going to the NFL. If I did everything I needed to do, the NFL was going to happen. I have the strength. I have the speed. I have the smarts. I just need to do everything I need to do and execute everything I need to execute, and the sky's going to be the limit."

JF: "Are there any NFL players who you admire and kind of model your game after?"

YR: "Definitely. I think Luke Kuechly is the best linebacker of his generation. Unfortunately, he retired early. The best linebacker in the league right now is Roquan Smith. He's who I model my game after. Safety-wise, Kam Chancellor. The Seattle Seahawks have been my team ever since I came to this country, they won the Super Bowl in 2015. The Legion of Boom. Kam Chancellor, he did a number on me, man. Just watching him play with the aggression that he played with and the passion he played with made me fall in love with the team and the game even more."

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Yvandy Rigby on interest from the NY Jets

JF: "Are there any NFL teams you’ve met with or spoken to a good amount during the pre-draft process? Anything with the Jets?"

YR: "I met with a good amount of teams. I've definitely met with the Jets. I've met with the coaching staff. Coach [Mike Rutenberg], I love him to death. He's a really good linebacker coach. Amazing facility. Really good atmosphere. [They have a] really good defense. The facility was just so cool."

JF: "It would be cool because you're a local guy too. Obviously you grew up in Turks and Caicos, but you lived in South Jersey for a while."

YR: "Yeah, that would be really cool. I wouldn't have to go very far. I wouldn't have to move."