August 17, 2010
Before Monday night, Victor Cruz(notes) was an NFL unknown improbably trying to secure a roster spot with the New York Giants. He starred as a wide receiver at Massachusetts, a school with little football pedigree, went unpicked in the 2010 draft and joined a roster featuring seven veteran receivers. He was a 23-year-old bound to get lost in the shuffle.
And then he made his preseason debut.
In a nationally televised performance, Cruz caught three touchdowns in the New York Giants' preseason game against the New York Jets, including a stunning one-handed grab down the sidelines that led to a 64-yard touchdown (watch it below). Cruz finished with six catches for 145 yards and became the star of the evening, even drawing the attention of LeBron James, who Tweeted:
"Victor Cruz going nuts on the Jets tonight on #MNF," he wrote. "Undrafted rookie from UMass. He's gonna have a job this year for sure."
Cruz ended his UMass career fourth on the all-time receptions list, despite the fact that he didn't see action until his junior season. He had hoped to be drafted, but when he wasn't one of the 255 names called in April's draft, he signed as a free agent with the Giants. At the time, Cruz told The Record:
"This opportunity means a lot to me, coming from a relatively small school. I'm going in there to work hard. I'm going in there with an open mind, making sure I do the right things. It's a great opportunity. I'm ecstatic about it and I'm grateful that the Giants' organization gave me a shot."
By all accounts, Cruz kept to his goals. He's been one of the stars of Giants camp, said coach Tom Coughlin, after the game:
"Justice has been served. Young man Victor Cruz really has had an outstanding camp. He works his tail off every day. He's made a lot of plays this past week. [...]
"He was truly outstanding tonight."
If Cruz keeps up his hard work and productivity, it won't have been his last outstanding night in a Giants uniform. He's positioned for a roster spot, a thought which would have been improbable one month ago.
Victor Cruz is anonymous no more.
[Photos: More images from Giants vs. Jets]
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