At the very mention of the other's name, both Jason Pierre-Paul and Jacquian Williams' knee-jerk responses began with two words: Oh, man.
"Oh man, me and Jacquian go way back," the defensive end said in an interview on Friday.
"Oh man, JPP," the rookie linebacker began saying as the pitch in his voice gradually went higher and higher with each initial.
Not exactly coincidence per se, but the two sons of The Sunshine State somewhat defied the odds on their path to landing on the same pro team. Not only did they play Division I football together at South Florida, they also transferred there from Fort Scott Community College the same season.
It was there, playing in Kansas, that the two met each other.
"I didn't know him from a can of paint," said Pierre-Paul, a native of Deerfield Beach, Fla. "I wound up getting close to him, we wound up being cool. All Florida cats have something in common - where they come from, their backgrounds, something in common."
Williams, born in Apopka just outside of Orlando, said he bonded with Pierre-Paul during down time at Fort Scott.
"We couldn't get back home one time," Williams said. "We were on a weeklong break and we had to kind of stay together. So that's how we really kind of met. (Another teammate) had a car so we would go out and hang together. That's kind of how we hooked up."
Nine months younger, Williams played another year at South Florida while watching his friend make his rookie debut for the Giants last season. When his time came, the probability that the two would reunite once again wasn't really much of a coincidence at all.
It was Giants general manager Jerry Reese who set the wheels in motion and approached Williams with a question during his pro day.
Do you get along with JPP?
"I started laughing," Williams said. "I said, 'Yeah, that'd be great.' It was in the back of my mind."
Williams said Reese told him he would see what he could do to get them playing together again. Now in Pierre-Paul's shoes a year later, Williams has his confidant back"When I first got here, it made me feel at ease having somebody I knew that's been here for a year," Williams said. "He's somebody that helps. He's a smiling person. He always puts a smile on my face. I know I can always go talk to him. It's easy to talk to him."
Pierre-Paul can relate to the way Williams is being brought along at the professional level and knows why the Giants signed him to the team.
"Maybe they looked at me last year, and they said 'I've got to go back and get some more South Florida cats.' But it's a good thing. I'm happy for him. I love having him on my team, I do."
In his first three games, Williams has 19 tackles, including a team-high 10 at Philadelphia on Sunday. And just like with Pierre-Paul, the Giants brass are immediately seeing their investment in pure athleticism pay off.
"Now they're asking me, 'Are there more people like (you) at South Florida?'" Williams said.
"I said, 'They're out there.' I know a couple of them. Some guys at USF, they should have a chance. I just asked Jerry in the weight room, I asked him, 'Are all Florida kids just built like that?' He was like, 'No, not all them - (you) and JPP are genetically gifted.'"
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