The defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants had a dazzling dream like season in 2011 that astoundingly ended with another surprising defeat over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. A team built upon pure talent and unpredictability set the standard for the year, as the Giants became the most unlikely playoff contenders amongst a solid core of NFL dynamos such as the Packers, Steelers, and Patriots. Part of their huge success is credited to several key players who emerged as rising superstars in the NFL such as Victor Cruz, who is seemingly becoming one of the hottest wide receivers currently playing the game. He’s the talk of the town in New York and one of their most beloved, even with Tim Tebow hogging some of the Broadway glitz and glam. But nonetheless, this unlikely hero has risen to a new level in the NFL ranks and the burning question most of us want answered is how high is this man’s star going to rise?
Victor Cruz grew up in the rough city of Patterson, New Jersey. Going into college Cruz was recruited by several 1-AA schools to play football, but none who weren’t nationally recognized for the sport. With so very few options, Cruz settled on the University of Massachusetts and was delighted by the fact that he just got the opportunity to continue to play football, even if that meant studying more to earn higher grades. He red-shirted his freshman year and practiced with the team until he was able to start during his junior season. Overall Cruz finished with 11 touchdowns, 131 catches and just under 2,000 yards receiving for his final two years in college. Not bad for a guy of his stature now.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, Cruz went undrafted as he watched teams draft player after player that he matched up well against. No teams made any commitments to him therefore leaving Cruz little, if any hope of the NFL dream. It wasn’t until the Giants picked him up that Cruz was finally going to get his prime opportunity to shine.
Cruz exploded in his rookie year during the pre-season helping him gain significant recognition. He finished first in receiving yards amongst all wide-outs with 297 yards during the pre-season, having a huge game against the New York Jets with six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-16 rout. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit hard and Cruz only appeared in three regular season games without a catch before going on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
It was in 2011 that Cruz became the team’s fourth receiver due to the loss of receiver Steve Smith. His role was expanded when Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon were hindered due to injury giving Cruz a chance to prove his worth to a Giants team desperate to make a Super Bowl run. Cruz had a standout season ending with a franchise record 1,536 receiving yards on 82 receptions, while snagging 9 touchdowns for the year. His agility, quickness, and ability to read the play have stunned many teams alike and he is now one of the most nationally recognized players in the NFL.
So what is it about this guy that has Giant’s fans bellowing out his name every time the ball is tossed his way? Your guess is as good as mine but Victor Cruz does indeed have the dynamic speed, agility, ferocity, talent, and mentality of a great football player. Time after time Cruz has proved himself on the gridiron with aw aspiring catches, juke moves, and salsa touchdown celebration dances. It’s his character on and off the field that have Giants fans going crazy for the guy.
So what’s next in this Cinderella story come to life? The Giants are coming off a remarkable season (due in big part to Victor Cruz) and now look to repeat in the 2012 season. One thing is for sure though; Cruz is going to be a vital part of the Giants future success.
UPDATED: Nicks Hurt 4 to 6
The defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants dynamic wide-receiving core seems to be dwindling by the minute. This once phenomenal group of receivers is shrinking and becoming less of a threat, as the 2012 season looms closer. Crunch time wide-out Mario Manningham was lost due to free agency, injury riddled Domenik Hixon is finally returning to the field after spending last year on IR, and now superstar wide-receiver Hakeem Nicks is said to be missing at least 12 weeks after suffering a broken bone in his right foot. This news couldn’t come at a worse time for Giants fans that are itching for a championship repeat. Yet, there is hope on the horizon, and it’s non other than Nicks’ partner in crime, Victor Cruz. With Nicks’ injury hindering his playing time, Victor Cruz’s fantasy stock just blew threw the roof. For the most part, there’s always at least one Giants receiver to crack the list of top 10 fantasy receivers (usually Nicks) but now, Cruz has a prime opportunity to shine in the Meadowlands and prove his prowess.
It was last year that Victor Cruz exploded onto the scene in New York as one of the hottest targets for Eli Manning. Cruz’s 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns blew away fantasy owners looking for a wide receiver who could help them earn more points than they’d bargained for. Nicks’ has always been a sought-after receiver, but injuries don’t sit too well with fantasy owners hungrily looking for a league championship. No need to look further than the Giants receiving depth chart, as Victor Cruz can be a solid replacement for owners’ dead set on drafting Nicks.
However, Nicks did indeed undergo foot surgery on Friday with results still pending. If the operation is a success, Nicks could be back in time for the NFL opening clash against Dallas. Until then, we can only speculate on Nicks’ healing time, which some rumored it would only take 4 to 6 weeks to heal, but in the long run, only time will tell as to what will happen over the summer with the Giants’ number one wide-out. If things go according to plan, Nicks’ should be back to his prime time self, with Victor Cruz as his golden receiving wingman.
Chris Strong is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan living in the heart of Chicago and though he gets many strange looks wearing his green and gold, he represents his team proudly in the windy city. By day, Chris is a supervisor at a Chicago Cubs merchandise store located across the way from Wrigley Field, not to mention an avid film and media writer. By night, Chris continues to pursue a sports writing career as he loves all things football, especially the NFL.