EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Seventy-six players participated in the first day of the Giants’ rookie minicamp today, but coach Pat Shurmur couldn’t help but think of the one player who wasn’t on the field.
Cornerback Corey Ballentine, a sixth-round selection from Washburn University, did not travel here for the camp, with the team’s blessing.
Last Saturday, just hours after the Giants drafted him, Ballentine was a victim in a tragic shooting in Topeka, Kan., where Washburn is located. His college teammate and close friend Dwane Simmons was killed. Ballentine was hit in his glute, hospitalized and later released.
“I am really disappointed that he was the victim of a crime,” Shurmur said. “He is a great young man. We got to know him really well through the draft process. My son trained with him at EXOS, so I had some intimate knowledge of what a great young man he is. It is very unfortunate that he was a victim of a crime. That could happen to any of us. We are here for him. He is going through the vigils and the funeral, the things that he has to go through. We are here to support him as he comes back to us. We are just here for him. Thoughts and prayers go his way.”
Shurmur did not have an update on Ballentine’s physical condition. Asked if the young player was expected to fully heal, Shurmur said, “that is what they are saying, but it might take a little bit of time.”
Shurmur is “hopeful” Ballentine will join the Giants when the rookies return here on Monday, May 13.
“This is a unique situation,” Shurmur said. “We want him to get full closure on his end. We are sensitive to that. This is a real-life situation. We want to make sure he gets full closure. It is May. We play in September. We want to make sure he gets done on that end what he needs to and gets the help that he needs.”
That has been the organization’s position since they learned of the shooting. On Wednesday, the Giants issued a statement that said, “We have been in communication with Corey since Sunday. We have encouraged Corey to stay in Kansas this week to be with his family and friends as they mourn the loss and celebrate the life of his good friend and teammate Dwane Simmons.
“Corey will be with us when it’s appropriate.”
*During the two on-field sessions, all eyes were on the quarterback Daniel Jones, the sixth overall draft choice from Duke. Shurmur delivered a favorable review.
“I thought he did a good job,” Shurmur said. “It is a lot for a quarterback coming into an NFL system. I thought he did a good job today.
“This is a very accomplished, talented and smart young man that gets it. He worked extremely hard yesterday and today.”
In what will surely not be the last time, Shurmur referenced Eli Manning when speaking about Jones.
“He is a guy that can execute well from the pocket but he also has a good set of legs, so we can move around - boots, nakeds, things we did with Eli,” Shurmur said. “Mobility is important in today’s game. Whether you use him as a runner or, typically if you are going to have a long drive and you are going to score a touchdown, the quarterback needs to do something with his legs in that drive. Moving the pocket, scrambling. Sometimes moving in the pocket and throwing it away or scrambling and making a play. Scramble and slide. A quarterback and his ability to move his legs is very important.”
*The Giants announced the signing of three of their 10 draft choices, as well as 13 rookie free agents.
The draft choices under contract are cornerback Julian Love, the fourth-round selection from Notre Dame, and the team’s two seventh-round picks, tackle George Asafo-Adjei from Kentucky and defensive tackle Chris Slayton of Syracuse.
The free agents include quarterback Eric Dungey of Syracuse, tackle Paul Adams of Missouri, defensive backs Jake Carlock of LIU Post, Mark McLaurin of Mississippi State, and Jacob Thieneman of Purdue, tight end C.J. Conrad of Kentucky, defensive ends Jeremiah Harris of Eastern Michigan and Nate Harvey of East Carolina, running back Jon Hilliman of Rutgers, center James O’Hagan of Buffalo, linebacker Josiah Tauaefa of Texas- San Antonio, and wide receivers Alex Wesley of Northern Colorado and Reggie White of Monmouth (N.J.).
The Giants also waived wide receiver Jawill Davis and tackle Jylan Ware. Davis played in seven games last season when he was a rookie free agent from Bethune-Cookman. He caught four passes for 40 yards. Ware, who played one game for the 2017 Oakland Raiders, was signed by the Giants on Dec. 31.