Print
RSS

NY/NJ prospects make their case at the Combine

Posted Feb 28, 2016

Local prospects look to make an impact at the NFL combine

The odds of making it to the NFL are slim. The odds of playing for your hometown team are practically nonexistent.

But it’s not impossible.

Players like Victor Cruz have lived that ultimate dream, graduating from Paterson Catholic in New Jersey to one day winning the Super Bowl with the Giants. And while the prospects participating in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week will eagerly accept any one of the 32 possible jerseys, there are plenty who could join the list.

Massachusetts wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is one of them looking to follow in Cruz’s footsteps.

A native of Piscataway, N.J, Sharpe measured 6-foot-2 and 189 pounds at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds with a vertical jump of 33.5 inches. He is coming off a final season in which he earned second team All-American honors by leading the nation with 9.3 receptions per game and ranking sixth in yards per game (109.9). Sharpe also caught a pass in every game he played at UMass, the alma mater of Cruz.

“I got a chance to sit down and meet with him before one of the games last year,” Sharpe said. “He gave me a lot of great advice and a lot of encouragement.”

Sharpe isn’t the only one with Giants ties at Lucas Oil Stadium this week.

Stony Brook defensive end Victor Ochi, from Valley Stream, N.Y, follows the wake of Giants tight end Will Tye, who became the first player from the school to play in an NFL game. Tye made the team as an undrafted rookie last season, meaning Ochi could become the first player drafted in program history.

“It would mean a lot,” Ochi said. “That’s history. It would be very humbling for me. I want to give something back to the school because that was the one school that took the chance on me coming out of high school and gave me a full scholarship. To be the first player drafted out of there would be an honor.”

Like Tye, Ochi has to deal with people who have never heard of Stony Brook.  

“You get used to it,” Ochi said. “But at the same time it feels good for me because I get a chance to put my school on the map. I’m not the first and I’m not going to be the last for sure. We have Will Tye on the Giants out there being on the All-Rookie team from Stony Brook. Stony Brook has a lot of talent and it’s coming along.

“I’ve always respected Will Tye as an athlete and as a player. So what he did came as no surprise to me. As a former teammate, I expected nothing less from him and I’m going to do the same myself.”

Here is a look at the rest of this year’s combine participants from the New York/New Jersey area:

CB ELI APPLE

Hometown: Voorhees, N.J.
High School: Eastern
College: Ohio State

DT AUSTIN JOHNSON

Hometown: Galloway, N.J.
High School: St. Augustine Prep
College: Penn State

DE SHILIQUE CALHOUN

Hometown: Middletown, N.J.
High School: Middletown North
College: Michigan State

WR LEONTE CARROO

Hometown: Edison, N.J.
High School: Don Bosco Prep
College: Rutgers

After already playing high school and college football in the same state, Carroo was asked what it would mean to complete the trifecta with the Giants or Jets.

“I guess that would be cool,” he said. “But I’ve been there for a while. I wouldn’t mind staying or going. It really doesn’t matter to me. Whatever team that gives me the opportunity for me to best show my playmaking ability is where I’m going to compete the best at and go to.”

FB GLENN GRONKOWSKI

Hometown: Amherst, N.Y.
High School: Williamsville North
College: Kansas State

Glenn is the younger brother of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. “He’s crazy, obviously, he likes to have fun,” Glenn said of Rob. “I’m probably not as much fun as him. That’s kind of hard to beat.”

DT MATT IOANNIDIS

Hometown: Ringoes, N.J.
High School: Hunterdon Central Regional
College: Temple

S ELIJAH SHUMATE

Hometown: East Orange, NJ
High School: Don Bosco Prep
College: Notre Dame

S JORDAN LUCAS

Hometown: New Rochelle, N.Y.
High School: New Rochelle
College: Penn State

DT CONNOR WUJCIAK

Hometown: West Caldwell, N.J.
High School: Seton Hall Prep
College: Boston College

TE RYAN MALLECK

Hometown: Point Pleasant, N.J.
High School: Point Pleasant Borough
College: Virginia Tech

P RILEY DIXON

Hometown: Blossvale, N.Y.
High School: Christian Brothers Academy
College: Syracuse

LB STEVE LONGA

Hometown: Saddle Brook, N.J.
High School: Saddle Brook
College: Rutgers

WR DEVON CAJUSTE

Hometown: Seaford, N.Y.
High School: Holy Cross
College: Stanford