NEW YORK GIANTS' VICTOR CRUZ: LOCALLY GROWN AND REPPIN'
Excerpt: "The New York
Giants are more well-known for drafting defense. No doubt. Once in a while,
though, an offensive gem falls their way: Phil Simms, Joe Morris, Mark Bavaro,
Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, Eli Manning…and most recently, Hakeem Nicks.
Then, there’s times when an undrafted free agent from the “mean streets” of
Paterson, NJ ends up being an all-out Big Blue phenom.
Cruz went to Paterson Catholic High School where he played for the Cougars
-as WR and DB- and recorded 19 touchdowns in his senior year there (they went
undefeated). Since last year, I’ve spoken to local kids that went to rival
schools in Lodi (Rams) and Saddle Brook (Falcons). All comments and memories
seem to be similar: “that kid was fast,” “man, he burned our DB’s,” “he was hard
to cover,” “we all knew he would go on to be something, but wow”… Some even said
he was a quiet, but really, super nice guy. For those of you that aren’t
familiar with the local area of Paterson, in Passaic County, NJ—do some research
on it. This last tidbit is a compliment to Cruz’ character.
From Paterson, Cruz went up to Brighton Academy in Maine for a post-graduate
semester, then to U Mass where he didn’t start until his Junior year, but
amassed 131 catches (4th all-time in team history), had 1,958 yards (5th in team
history behind former NY Giant, Brandon London) and 11 touchdowns.
Fast forward to 2010’s NFL Draft. No draft day story to tell for Victor
Cruz. The now 25 year-old went undrafted. Not much was heard about him,
except in local Jersey papers when the Giants signed him. Until August 16, 2010
and a pre-season game vs. New York Jets. Three insanely convincing touchdowns, 145
yards and burning speed. All of a sudden, Cruz was the topic around the water
cooler. For weeks.
Needless to say, he made the 53-man roster, but in very Giants-like luck, was
placed on IR after only three weeks into the season with a hamstring injury.
2011: Fast forward again, but this time through the fun that was the NFL Lockout,
“training camp” and pre-season. Cruz begins the season listed on the depth chart
as the #4 wideout behind Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon.
However, through injuries (shocker), #80 quietly stepped up and confidently grew
with his quarterback. He remains focused and poised, yet hungry for more. Victor
Cruz (through NFL Week 13) is
#4 again—in receiving yards in the league. 62 receptions for 1,076 yards and
seven TDs with four more games to be played.
So much for the folks who claimed the pre-season Jets game was a one-time
thing and “just meaningless pre-season highlights.” Hope they’re all watching
his route-running, his sideline footwork, and his concentration in the huddle.
There’s probably one more source for intangible information on Victor
Cruz, but he may not want to tell you.