Among the kids coming in for tryouts during rookie minicamp stands a man that would naturally be near and dear to Tom Coughlin's heart.
The head coach is a big military guy. It's no secret that he enjoys the company of soldiers of any rank, as he's had a range from commanding generals to injured privates view his practices. So it's no surprise that Ball State defensive end Brandon Crawford should have been invited for a tryout.
Crawford, at 6-3, 272 pounds, is obviously there because of his on-field accomplishments. He finished second on his team with three sacks and 11 1/2 tackles for losses, earning All-MAC second-team honors. But it wasn't long ago that Crawford wore another uniform.
You see, he's 33 years old. He went into the Marine Corps in 1999, after a few years working in an automotive factory after a run-in with the law ruined his college chances after high school graduation in 1996. Crawford served until 2003, attending the Military Occupational Specialties School and posting at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, N.C. while there.
He walked on at Ball State in 2006, and went on to start 39 consecutive games. And now, at 33, he has an oh-so-slim shot at earning a trip to Giants training camp.
"I can contribute leadership, character, maturity," he told the Kansas City Star before the draft. "A lot of those guys they bring in are younger guys, they’ve never been in this position before. I’ve spent four years in the Marine Corps. I know what it takes to be accountable.
"You have to have toughness, you have to have effort, you’ve got to be someone they can trust and can communicate with. You have to have loyalty to your team and your teammates, even when you’re off the field, by doing the right things the right way for the right reasons."
Pretty cool stuff.