|On The Move|
By September, the undrafted free agent secured a spot on the Giants roster, having led the preseason in receiving yards with 297 and tied for first in touchdowns with four. While Youtube viewers and the sporting press still admire Cruz’s impressive 64-yard, one-handed TD catch, the rookie’s focus remains on the game. “I go through plays I screwed up on,” the 23-year-old explains. “It’s about [paying] attention to detail. Anyone can do just what’s asked of them, but it’s about going in early and working harder.”
The 6-foot-1, 200 pound Paterson, NJ native grew up a Dallas Cowboys’ fan, but joined the division rival Giants as a walk-on to their practice squad. Although Cruz still has to prove himself in the regular season, the upstart didn’t show any difficulties adjusting to the pros. The standout receiver shined during the preseason, but will have to establish himself on the special teams unit, with a Giants’ squad already stacked with talented wide outs- led by Pro Bowler Steve Smith. The adjustment could pose a problem for any newcomer, but according to Cruz’s high school coach, Benjie Wimberly, he’ll excel in the new role. “Seeing him return punts was like watching a video game,” says Wimberly. “He has unbelievable hips and shifts away from tackles so quick.”
A local hero, the half Puerto-Rican and African-American star, played cornerback/wide receiver at Paterson Catholic High School. Initially recruited by Rutgers University to play cornerback, Cruz instead accepted a full scholarship to Division I-AA UMass, in 2004. However, due to poor grades his freshman year (1.7 GPA), Cruz had to wait three years before he played his first game. By 2007, the embattled receiver earned his way back – he raised his grades at a local college- and went on to play the best game ever, of any UMass receiver, with 13 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns. After several looks from NFL scouts and being named an honorable mention All-American his senior year, Cruz went undrafted last April.