Former Jets RB Stacy runs for the Express

If you were watching Monday Night Football on Oct. 28, 2013, you probably had Zac Stacy pegged for stardom and might even have celebrated his status on your fantasy team. On that night, he was a Rams rookie running wild against a stingy Seattle defense, finishing with 26 carries for 134 yards, on his way to back-to-back 100-plus performances.

Stacy’s professional path did not turn out to be nearly as easy as it was through the Seahawks defense that night, but five years later he has a new lease on football life. He will try to reinvent himself and realize that demonstrated potential as a running back just signed by the new Memphis team in The Alliance of American Football.

Stacy was drafted out of Vanderbilt by the Rams in the fifth round (160th overall) in 2013, and he made an immediate impact as a rookie. That season, he rushed 250 times for 973 yards and seven touchdowns and another 141 yards receiving. His NFL peak came in that MNF game, and the next week, he ran for 127 yards on 27 rushes and two TDs.

His rushes declined from 250 to 76 in 2014, though, and the Rams caused a stir by selecting running back Todd Gurley in the 2015 NFL Draft. Stacy tweeted the simple word “yikes” upon seeing that first-round selection as his obvious replacement . . . and promptly requested a trade. The Rams accommodated him, sending Stacy to the Jets in exchange for New York’s 2015 seventh-round pick. Stacy appeared in eight games for the Jets, carrying 31 times for 89 yards, but broke an ankle against the Bills on that Nov. 12. He went on injured reserve a day later, and the Jets released him the next summer after he failed a physical.

Stacy announced his retirement from the NFL on Instagram, and came out of retirement this past May to sign with Saskatchewan of the Canadian Football League. That figured to be his comeback. He led the team in rushing in both preseason games, with 51 yards on 11 carries, yet lost out to Tre Mason in the battle for that job, despite more usage.

“He’s tough. He’s gritty. And he’s got unbelievable hands. He can get out of the backfield and do some things,” Saskatchewan running backs coach Kent Maugeri said. “The way he carries himself, he’s a pro. You don’t have to worry about him.”

Now The Alliance offers Stacy a new chance to earn back that spotlight and possibly reach the potential he showed everyone with 3,143 rushing yards at Vandy and then with his initial NFL splash. He might look a little different, though, because he tweeted on Sept. 19: “I’ve been locked in for so long I done got dreads ….”

One thing hasn’t changed about Stacy, and that is his positive perspective. He has a lot of it, thanks largely to growing up with a younger brother, Justin, who has Down Syndrome.

“Absolutely, my brother Justin just teaches me that it’s bigger than football sometimes,” Stacy said. “You’ve got to get outside that bubble a little bit, spend time with your family and enjoy the time you have living on this Earth. Football is a passionate game. I love the game of football, but, at the end, I’m reminded that I’m blessed to have the support of Justin, my mom and my family back home.”