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Mark Herzlich Rookie Blog


During the first week after the lockout was lifted, the NFL office processed 1,230 player contracts.

Perhaps one of the more notable signatures to toe the dotted line came not from a first round draft choice or even a Pro Bowl veteran, but rather from a rookie free agent out of Boston College.

Mark Herzlich, who publicly fought through bone cancer in the prime of his lauded college career, signed with the Giants during the first wave of transactions following the new labor agreement, instantly pleasing fans and organization members alike.

"Suggested" by president and chief executive officer John Mara, the cancer-free Herzlich was one of the first players that the Giants reached out to on the first night of free agency.

After a few more conversations, general manager Jerry Reese got on the line, followed by a few words with Tom Coughlin that clinched it for the linebacker.

"Really after I talked to coach Coughlin, that was when I really decided that I wanted to be here," Herzlich said. "This was kind of the right place for me both football-wise and personality-wise. So that's when I decided."

Everyone has wanted a piece of the 6-foot-4, 246-pound Herzlich since then. From "60 Minutes" to NFL Network, Herzlich has been swept up in a media whirlwind while competing for a roster spot.

However, while not wanting to put the cancer survival story to bed, Herzlich at the same time is focused on his next hurdle.

"I think it has put a little bit of closure to the whole campus story and everything," said Herzlich, who was defending his ACC Defensive Player of the Year award before the diagnosis.

"Obviously I don't want that to go away. I'm very proud of what I went through and want to help as many people as possible. But for the next 28-30 days, it's all about learning the plays, executing on the field, and making plays."

Now 10 days into camp and on the verge of the first preseason game this weekend, it's all football for Herzlich.

"A lot of learning," Herzlich said. "Just got to keep executing, make some plays. Obviously you make some mistakes, but you got to put those in the past and keep moving on."

With the Boston College presence permeating the halls at the Timex Performance Center, "irony" might not be the right word, but there's definitely a coincidence when it comes to one of his new teammates.

Herzlich, who wore No. 94 in college in honor of BC alum Mathias Kiwanuka, now plays on defense with his predecessor.

It goes one step further. Now that it has been announced that Kiwanuka will be playing linebacker instead of defensive end, the two share a position room.

"He's a great hard-worker," Herzlich said of Kiwanuka, who was also a conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. "That's what I'm learning from him now. He's getting familiar with his position and so we can learn from each other."

The two never overlapped during their careers at Boston College, so this time around Herzlich had to find a new number. He now wears No. 58, which was formerly worn by linebacker Antonio Pierce. Pierce was also an undrafted rookie free agent coming out of college.

With competition heating up between a handful of rookie linebackers – including Greg Jones and Spencer Paysinger – linebackers coach Jim Herrmann assessed Herzlich's progress during a press conference on Monday. Herrmann said he sees him playing a couple positions, but probably on the strongside.

"He's a highly intelligent kid, so the concern is just trying to find his niche right now," Hermann said. "Herzlich, I love, because he's one of those kids who--something in his life, obviously his sickness--has really driven his focus to succeed and he's going to succeed. That's just the way he is. Pretty much he was on his death bed and now he's playing in the NFL camp with the New York Giants. That's a great story."

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