Victor Cruz: A Life Transformed
By Adam Lockley:
He had the most unlikely path to the NFL; he nearly threw his life away until he received a second chance in college, and ran with it.
Meet Victor Cruz, a man who came out of nowhere on August 16, 2010 against the Jets in a preseason game. A game in which he had six receptions for 145 yards and three touchdowns, but before I go deeper into his NFL career let’s discuss all it took to get there.
Victor Cruz attended Paterson Catholic High School in Paterson, New Jersey where he was a standout on the football team at wide receiver. In spite of his talent he was overlooked by many colleges because they thought he was too short and too slow. However there was one school that took interest in him, the University of Massachusetts.
Victor Cruz was headed in the right direction in the fall of 2004 until bad decisions caused his life to go south. He had the perception that since he was an athlete he did not have to go to class. So he decided to sleep in his dormitory, and expected the instructors to push him through. It turned out that he was wrong; he ended up losing his scholarship and was sent back to New Jersey. He ended up working at a few small stores for the next couple of years.
Victor Cruz would end up going back to the University of Massachusetts in 2007, which was his only year of eligibility. He would rejoin the football team, but did not start until his junior season. When he was given the chance to start he ran with it. In the two years he played he had 149 receptions, 2,000 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns. The 149 receptions is the fourth most in school history.
Victor Cruz would now look forward to the NFL, where he would be overlooked by all 32 teams. The team that gave him a chance was the New York Giants; they saw that he possessed raw athletic ability. He displayed that in a 2010 preseason game against the Jets, a game in which he had six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Everyone knew his name now. In spite of this great evening he would suffer another disappointing setback.
He would miss the entire 2010 season due to a hamstring injury, however he would return for the 2011 season, which would be a season for the ages. In 2011 he was second in receiving yards with 1.536, behind Calvin Johnson who had 1,681 receiving yards. It was definitely a breakout season for him, and he capped it off with a super bowl championship. He was definitely the guy the Giants needed to replace slot receiver Steve Smith, who went to the Rival Philadelphia Eagles. He is best known for the 99 yard touch down reception that changed the entire game against the Jets on 12/24/11. He is also known for setting the tone in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys with a 74 yards touch down reception. He really made a name for himself.