Sid Saraf of FoxSports.com has a feature story on Victor Cruz and how he was able to be successful in reaching the NFL despite not being invited to the NFL Combine. The story also touches on his work with a company called GamePlan4Me.com which helps young people attain career and health-care goals.
UMass alum and current New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz added yet another milestone to his NFL resume. In the annual NFL Pro Bowl, his first selection as an NFL player, Cruz set a new game record with 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Cruz and quarterback Eli Manning were instrumental in the 62-35 win for the NFC.
Several news items on Victor Cruz today as ESPN says "Cruz can't wait to see Jets again". Bleacher Repot also has a story on "3 candidates to be this year's Victor Cruz". SB Nation gives their Fantasy Football Rankings for 2012 Wide Receivers and says Cruz is a must have.
Jorge Castillo of The New Jersey Star-Ledger has a Q&A with former Minuteman Julian Talley who is an undrafted free agent for the New York Giants. The piece outlines some of the similarities between Talley and Victor Cruz.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on the success of Jonathan Quick and Victor Cruz and their meteoric rise to sports fame this year.
On Friday, Victor Cruz wore a maroon tie on his trip to the White House, a silent nod to the prominent color of his college (University of Massachusetts) and high school (Paterson Catholic) alma maters. Three days later, shortly after hoisting the Conn Smythe Trophy, Jonathan Quick thanked UMass coach Toot Cahoon and the Minuteman program during a televised interview.
It's continued to be a good year for the UMass athletic department. Even after the Minuteman baseball team was eliminated from the Atlantic 10 tournament, ending the 2011-12 athletic season, its prominent former players are keeping the school's name in the news in good ways.
UMass has had alumni shine in the ranks of the four major professional sports before. Mike Flanagan won a Cy Young Award. Jeff Reardon was, at one point, baseball's all-time leader in saves. Marcus Camby was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
But none of them captured the attention of their fan bases like Quick and Cruz. In the nation's two largest media markets, the two former Minutemen not only found the spotlight, but have shined in its glare.
Lenn Robbins of the New York Post has a story on Victor Cruz who was on hand for the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.
"Cruz is the man,'' said Jose Vargas, 37 of Puerto Rico, who said he's flown to New York for this parade each of the last six years. "He's fearless and fast. He makes catches across the middle and he can beat you deep. And he can dance, man, he can dance.'' Cruz, who was in attendance at the parade, made his touchdown celebration salsa dance a favorite among fans.
As Vargas was lauding his favorite player a group of his friends and family, as young as his two month niece, Danica, and his 84-year great grandmother, Rosa, broke into their renditions of Cruz's dance.
Victor Cruz and the New York Giants will visit the White House today in honor of the Super Bowl XLVI victory. The big question posed by Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com: Will POTUS bust a move out of respect for the "Silk City Salsa" made famous by Paterson native Victor Cruz?
Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger has a story on Victor Cruz who was a member of the NFL's unveiling of Nike's new uniforms for the league.
"I'm not frustrated at all. I'm just trying to go in there and play football," he said of his current contract. "When I was young it wasn't about money, it wasn't about fame and fortune. It was just about playing football. So regardless of how short-term this career can be, I just want to go out there and play. All of that stuff will take care of itself."
Earlier, he said, "You just gotta remain humble and remain yourself and understand that all the good things are going to come to you in time. So you just have to keep doing what you're doing, remain positive at all times and the good things will come."
Kevin Goheen contributes this story to the Daily Hampshire Gazette on how Victor Cruz is savoring the Super Bowl experience. He will face fellow alum James Ihedigbo of the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe has a feature today on how the success of James Ihedigbo and Victor Cruz has helped recruiting for Charley Molnar and the UMass football program.
Charley Molnar hasn't spent much time in the football offices at the University of Massachusetts since he became head coach in December.
With the program moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision next season and joining the Mid-American Conference, Molnar has been on the road recruiting. But he did find time to do a little interior decorating.
Hang a left when you walk through the doors, and there on the wall are super-sized photographs of Patriots defensive back James Ihedigbo and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
The display is a reminder to the current players and recruits visiting campus that the Minutemen have two players in the Super Bowl.
"I want every player who comes through our program to know they can do great things, just like Victor and James did,'' Molnar said. "They were on the same practice fields and in the same weight room and look where they are now.''
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on how the success James Ihedigbo and Victor Cruz are having in the NFL has served as an inspiration and a blueprint to pro-football hopefuls Julian Talley and Tyler Holmes. Talley and Holmes are currently in Florida working out to prepare for various NFL scouting combines.
Zach Schonbrun of Newsday has a story on Victor Cruz's appearance at a Modell's store in Times Square where he gave out salsa-dancing lessons, signed autographs and promoted a new t-shirt with "Cruuuuuuuuuuuuz!" on the front and salsa steps on the back - his trademark touchdown celebration.
No matter if you are a Giants fan or a Patriot fan, if you are a UMass fan, then this year's Super Bowl will be a win for you. Congratulations to Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo who will both be playing in the title game.
UMass' Victor Cruz once again put on a show for New York Giants fans - this time adding an on-side kick recovery to his resume - in Sunday's win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg.com has an extensive piece on the meteoric rise of Victor Cruz with the New York Giants. As he closes in on a new contract negotiation, Matuszewski points out:
Cruz has emerged as one of the Giants' most valuable and popular players. His No. 80 jersey is the team's second-best seller for the season behind Manning and the 13th-best seller in the league last month, according to NFLShop.com. Cruz is ninth on the ranking of rising sports stars issued today by Irvine, California-based Brand Affinity Technologies, which calculates consumer appeal based on performance, media exposure, popularity and other indicators among more than 45,000 athletes and celebrities.
Steve Serby of the New York Post has a story on the amazing season that Victor Cruz has put together this year for the Giants.
"It's amazing, man," Cruz said. "It's something you dream of when you grow up and you hear all the chants that different stadiums have for different people. For me to have one in New York, it's just a surreal feeling. I get goose bumps every time I hear it."
New York gets goose bumps every time he takes a short pass from Manning and takes it to the house.
An amazing game by Victor Cruz against the Jets over the week where he had a 99-yard pass reception-and-run to help him set a new Giants single season receiving record. Along with his season total, the 99-yard play also ties a franchise record putting the UMass standout's name in the Giants record book twice.
Victor Cruz of the New York Giants was a guest on Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio yesterday. The former UMass standout talked about the win over the Cowboys, his season so far, and playing with Eli Manning.
With 7 catches for 83 yards in last night's win over Dallas, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants continues to show why he is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL.
*Cruz had seven receptions for 83 yards in Dallas. His 1,159 yards is the seventh-highest single-season total in Giants history. Cruz needs 185 yards in the final three games to top Amani Toomer's franchise record of 1,343 yards, set in 2002.
Former UMass Minutemen, Casey Wellman currently of the Minnesota Wild, Johnathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and Jeremy Horn of the Kansas City Chiefs continue to excel as their professional athletic careers continue to take form in the 2011/12 hockey and football seasons.
Dan Salomone of Giants.com has a feature on Victor Cruz who was just shy of his career-best performance in last night's loss to the Saints. On a 72-yard touchdown catch, Cruz refrained from his now-famous Salsa dance in the endzone - a sign of his maturity as a professional football player.
Victor Cruz was center stage again for the New York Giants in their 36-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The former UMass wide receiver led the Giants with eight receptions for 161 yards, including a juggling one-handed 68-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Cruz was also involved in a pair of late turnovers by the Giants. All of that leads to lots of Cruz headlines today:
James Ighedibo made the first start of his career at safety for the New England Patriots, helping lead them to victory over his former team, the New York Jets, 30-20. The Amherst Regional High and UMass alum played the first four seasons of his career with the Jets, so Sunday's first start took on extra meaning. Ighedibo finished with six tackles on four solos and two assists.
UMass football alum and current New York Giant Victor Cruz (80) performed on the big stage last night - Monday Night Football. The wide receiver caught the first two passes of his career for a total of 17 yards to help the Giants to their first victory of the season, 28-16 over the St. Louis Rams at the Meadowlands, not far from his hometown of Paterson, N.J.
Cruz could be seeing even more action to come as two Giants receivers, Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon left Monday's game with injuries, and another starter, Hakeem Nicks, played but is still recovering from an injury suffered in Week 1.
Former University of Massachusetts and Amherst Regional standout James Ihedigbo made the New England Patriots final roster as the Patriots cut two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather to trim their roster to the limit of 53 on Saturday.
Ihedigbo was one of five Minutemen to survive cutdown day. Victor Cruz, who is expected to see regular playing time in the New York Giants wide receiver rotation after missing most of last year with an injury, made the roster out of camp for the second straight season. Jeromy Miles, who started last year on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad before being elevated during the season, made the 53-man roster out of camp this year.
Jeremy Cain starts his sixth NFL season and his third with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's primarily a long snapper.
Vlad Ducasse begins his second season as a reserve guard for the Jets.
Former UMass wide receiver Victor Cruz continues to get a lot of attention at New York Giants training camp. Cruz is competing for the No. 3 wideout spot in addition to a place on the active roster, but as you can read in the links below, he continues to impress his coaches.
Despite a crowded wide receiver situation at New York Giants training camp, former Minuteman Victor Cruz continues to impress coaches and teammates as the No. 3 receiver position, or slot receiver, job is up for grabs. ESPN New York writes that Cruz is in the mix for the job.
"He's a baller," Mario Manningham said. "He fits right in with our receiver group. He's not tall, but he's big and strong, he's got good hands, he's quick and he's fast."
"I think I'm understanding coverages better and reads as far as route running," Cruz said. "I think it's coming together for me a little better this year, and hopefully I can get that third spot."
Former UMass wide receiver and current New York Giant Victor Cruz has been in the news lately as the Giants' wide receiver situation begins to work itself out. After a breakout preseason last year, Cruz missed most of the season on injured reserve. This year, he is competing for a spot in a crowded corps. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham appear to be the starters, but with Steve Smith still unsigned and recovering from an injury, the No.3/slot position is up for grabs as well as the remaining wideout roster spots. Those competing with Cruz are Dominek Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Devin Thomas, Ramses Barden, and the newly signed Michael Clayton. Check out the stories below.
Christopher Spina of Giants101.com has a story on UMass alum Victor Cruz. The story focuses how the wide receiver overcame adversity to be successful at UMass, made the Giants as an undrafted rookie, dealt with injury in his rookie season, and now has the challenge of not only the NFL lockout, but once again proving himself to a team that drafted a wideout and has two others returning from injuries.
"With the Giants drafting speedy Jerrel Jernigan in the third round of this year's draft, the returns of Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon from injury, as well as the potential re-signing of possession receiver Steve Smith, Cruz will once again have to prove that he belongs on this team. After looking at all that he has overcome, though, I wouldn't bet against him."
Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireVictor Cruz played in just three games last season for the Giants.
The undrafted free agent out of UMass finished the preseason with 15 catches for 297 yards and four touchdowns and made the final roster. However, his rookie season consisted of just three regular-season games of special-teams duty because of a hamstring injury that landed him on injured reserve prior to the sixth game of the season.
Eli Manning simulated taking a snap, backpedaled in the pocket and then rolled to his left and hit receiver Hakeem Nicks on a pass to the sideline.
It's what one would expect in a New York Giants' minicamp at this time of year.
The only problem was this pass took place on a high school field in the shadow of New York City and not under the watchful eyes of coach Tom Coughlin and his staff at the Giants' practice facility.
Welcome to lockout football, where one gets to watch eight players try to stay in shape under the supervision of Manning and his trainer.
Manning and Nicks were joined on the field by quarterback Sage Rosenfels, tight end Kevin Boss and receivers Michael Clayton, Duke Calhoun, former University of Massachusetts standout Victor Cruz and Samuel Giguere.
UMass alums and football stars Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo will be guest stars on the Rachael Ray Show on Wednesday morning. The duo are part of a segment on the show called, "Human Lab." Here's the promo from the show's website: Rachael Ray Show, May 4, 2011.
Can what you cook up help you hook up? It's a new twist on TV dating when sexy star Taye Diggs plays matchmaker to two bachelors who are trying to win a woman's heart with their food! Then, sparks will fly in your house with Rach's date-night dinner, and it's a beefed up "Human Lab" with NFL stars testing grilling gadgets.
There were two hundred and twenty-five players named called during the 2010 NFL draft. Not one of those names was Victor Cruz. He'd have to try and make it as an UDFA. Cruz received calls from many teams, but the UMass standout opted to sign with the Giants. He'd try and make the roster as a player not drafted something very difficult to do.
Here's a look at UMass' alums in action in the NFL over the holiday weekend.
With the New York Jets, James Ihedigbo suffered an ankle injury in a 38-34 loss to the Chicago Bears and is expected to miss next week's game vs. the Buffalo Bills. Ihedigbo did not make a tackle in his limited action before the injury. Vladimir Ducasse dressed as a back-up lineman, but didn't play. The Jets clinched a playoff berth despite the loss as the Jaguars lost putting Gang Green into the postseason.
In the Bengals' 34-20 win over the Chargers, to end their playoff hopes, Jeromy Miles played on special teams for the Bengals, and downed a punt.
UMass' other NFL products didn't play: Victor Cruz on injured reserve with the Giants, Matt Lawrence on physically unable to perform list with the Ravens and Jeremy Horne on the practice squad with the Chiefs.
Check out UMass' alums in action in the NFL on Sunday.
• James Ihedigbo returned to action in the Jets' 22-17 huge win at the Steelers, after missing a game with a leg injury. Ihedigbo had a tackle on defense and played his usual impact role on special teams. Vladimir Ducasse dressed for the game for the Jets, but didn't play.
• In the Bengals' 19-17 win over the Browns, Jeromy Miles was in on a tackle that resulted in a forced fumble on kickoff.
• With Jaguars, in a 34-24 loss to the Colts, Jeremy Cain snapped seven times for the Jags on punts and kicks.
• UMass' other alums are not active at this time, with Matt Lawrence on the PUP list with the Ravens, Victor Cruz on the Giants' Injured Reserve. Jeremy Horne is on the Chiefs practice squad.
Former UMass star receiver Victor Cruz, the NFL preseason darling, wishes he could help the New York Giants in their postseason push, but he is on injured reserve despite being nearly recovered from a hamstring injury. Read stories on Cruz from the last few days, as he spoke at Giants practice.
Here's your weekly look at UMass' pros in football:
In the NFL
• The Jets won their third game in a row in dramatic last-second fashion, beating the Texans 30-27. James Ihedigbo had four tackles for the Jets on defense and special teams. Vladimir Ducasse was inactive again.
With the Jaguars, Jeremy Cain snapped six times in a 24-20 win over Cleveland.
Matt Lawrence continues to be on the physically unable to perform list with the Ravens. Victor Cruz is on injured reserve with the Giants. Jeremy Horne is on the practice squad with the Chiefs as is Jeromy Miles with the Bengals.
In the CFL
Brandon London will have a chance to win the Grey Cup next weekend with the Montreal Alouettes, as they beat the Toronto Argos 48-17 in the Eastern Final on Sunday. London didn't play in the win, as he's injured.
In The UFL
Marcel Shipp will have a chance to win the UFL title next weekend, on Saturday at 11 a.m. He played close to his college home in Hartford with the Las Vegas Locos, in a 27-14.
Shipp had just 12 yards on 11 carries for the Locos.
Matt Lawrence remains on PUP with the Ravens, who lost to the Falcons, 26-21. Victor Cruz' Giants lost to Cowboys, 33-20 in Jason Garrett's debut as Cowboys head coach.
Jeremy Horne remains on the practice squad with the Kansas City Chiefs and Jeromy Miles on the PS with the Cincinnati Bengals.
IN THE CFL:
In the CFL Western Semifinals, the BC Lions dropped a 41-38 OT game to Saskatchewan. UMass' Keron Williams had a huge game with three sacks and four tackles for BC and Anton McKenzie also made four tackles but BC's season ended.
In the CFL Eastern Semifinals, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with Shannon James lost to the Toronto Argos 16-13. James didn't make a play and finishes with the season with 11 solo tackles.
UMass' other CFL player Brandon London, plays for Montreal, which had a bye into the Eastern Final as the Alouettes will play Toronto next weekend.
Here's an update on UMass alums in the pro football ranks.
In The NFL:
With the Mew York Jets, James Ihedigbo played a bunch on defense and special teams with one tackle and called a key timeout for the Jets in their comeback 23-20 OT win over the Detroit Lions. Vladimir Ducasse was inactive.
New York Giants WR Victor Cruz took time out while on injured reserve to come to UMass' win over Maine on Saturday at McGuirk Stadium.
Brandon London made his CFL debut with the Montreal Alouettes as his team suffered a 30-4 loss to the Toronto Argos. London didn't have a catch but made a tackle on special teams.
In The UFL:
UMass' all-time rushing leaders matched up as the Sacramento Mountain Lions beat the Las Vegas Locos, 27-24. Las Vegas clinched a berth in the UFL Championship in last week's win at Omaha, but Sacramento dominated play throughout the opening half. Marcel Shipp had four carries for 10 yards and a catch for nine yards. Steve Baylark had a carry for Sacramento.
Here's our weekly look at UMass products in pro football.
In the Jaguars' 35-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Jeremy Cain snapped 10 times on kicks and punts.
In the New York Jets 9-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers, James Ihedigbo made the game's opening tackle on a the Jets kickoff. He also played in some secondary packages. Vladimir Ducasse was inactive, but was visible on the sidelines.
UMass also has alums on practice squads: WR Jeremy Horne with the Kansas City Chiefs and DB Jeromy Miles with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Additionally WR Victor Cruz is on the injured reserve list with the New York Giants while RB Matt Lawrence is on the physically unable to perform list with the Baltimore Ravens.
The BC Lions picked up a 23-17 win over Saskatchewan as both UMass alums Anton McKenzie and Keron Williams each had three tackles. The Lions are making a push for the postseason.
The Newark Star-Ledger has a nice feature story on UMass alum Victor Cruz and how he is dealing with being out for the remainder of the season on the New York Giants injured reserve.
"This is not even close," said Cruz, who became the first person on his mother's side of the family to earn a degree. "With school, it felt like I hit a brick wall. As much as I wanted to say, 'Screw this,' and go home, I couldn't do it. I just had to keep pushing. So this is something I can manage. I can rehab and get better."
Here's a recap of UMass products in action in pro football this past weekend:
In the NFL:
In the New York Jets huge comeback win over the Denver Broncos, 24-20, James Ihedigbo played defense and on special teams. Vladimir Ducasse was not active, but got plenty of TV on the sidelines.
In the Kansas City Chiefs' 35-31 loss to the Houston Texans in a thriller, Jeremy Horne played on special teams and made the first tackle of the second half on the opening kickoff. He also had one pass thrown his way, that was incomplete.
On Monday night football, Jeremy Cain snapped on all punts and kicks for the Jaguars in their loss to the Tenneesse Titans.
If you missed it Victor Cruz was played on injured reserve by the Giants and Matt Lawrence remains on physically unable to perform for the Ravens.
UMass' top career rushers faced off and Marcel Shipp's Las Vegas Locos got the best of Steve Baylark's Sacramento Mountain Cats, 26-3. Shipp scored the game's only offensive touchdown on a five-yard run up the middle in the fourth quarter. He finished with 15 carries for 69 yards. Baylark has his best game to date with 46 yards on four carries including a long of 29 yards.
After kicker Lawrence Tynes struggled to make it through Saturday morning's walk-through, the Giants signed veteran kicker Shayne Graham and placed rookie wide receiver Victor Cruz on injured reserve.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger.
Cruz, who was a preseason sensation with the Giants, strained his hamstring Monday while running sprints. He said Friday he'll "definitely be back in there with the guys" next week, but that won't be the case now that he's on injured reserve.
The Giants did not give Cruz a "minor" designation, which would have indicated he'd be waived when healthy. That means the team plans on keeping Cruz on IR all season.
Cruz was active for three games this season, although he did not catch a pass.
2003 UMass football All-American Jeremy Cain and his Jacksonville Jaguars picked up a 36-26 winover the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The NFL long snapper, snapped eight times on five Josh Scobee field goals and three extra points. The Jags are now 3-2 overall.
In other NFL action, UMass' Victor Cruz and Jeremy Horne were both in active for the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.
On Monday night, UMass grads James Ihedigbo and Vladimir Ducasse will be in the action with the New York Jets against the Minnesota Vikings on ESPN.
Week 5 of the NFL season is sure to be an exciting one. Most fans in New England will have a chance to watch a pair of 2009 UMass wide receivers in the 1 p.m., games on Sunday. On CBS, the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (with Jeremy Horne) take on the Indianapolis Colts. On FOX, the New York Giants (with Victor Cruz) battle the Houston Texans.
Other UMass alums will be in action as the Jacksonville Jaguars with long snapper Jeremy Cain play the Buffalo Bills at 1 p.m.
On Monday night, the Jets duo of UMass alums James Ihedigbo and Vladimir Ducasse, will be in action against the Minnesota Vikings on ESPN.
The Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. Matt Lawrence continues to be on the PUP list for the Ravens. Alum and Sunday's feature item in the Springfield Republican Clarence Brooks coaches for Baltimore as well.
In the Chiefs' 16-14 win over the Browns, WR Jeremy Horne made hi on-field NFL debut in No. 11 and made a tackle on special teams in the fourth quarter.
DB James Ihedigbo played great on special teams in the New York Jets' 28-14 win over the Patriots. OL Vladimir Ducasse was inactive for the second week in a row.
LS Jeremy Cain snapped three times all on kicks in the Jaguars' 38-13 loss to the Chargers. Interestingly, the Jaguars never punted in the game as they scored, fumbled, were intercepted or failed on a fourth down conversion.
With the Giants, in their game against the Colts, WR Victor Cruz is active in place of WR Ramses Barden, who wasn't much of a factor in Week 1 and had a ball bounce off his hands for an interception.
In the CFL, the BC Lions beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 35-31 as a trio of UMass alums saw action. For BC, LB Anton McKenzie racked up five tackles and DE Keron Williams made three tackles. LB Shannon James didn't have a tackle for Hamilton.
In the UFL, the Sacramento Mountain Lions lost to the Hartford Colonials 27-10. TB Steve Baylark didn't have a carry for the Mountain Lions.
The Las Vegas Locos lost to the Florida Tuskers 27-20. RB Marcel Shipp had 13 carries for 48 yards for the Locos.
After his surprising training camp while wearing No. 3, Paterson's Victor Cruz will change to No. 80 when the Giants' regular season opens Sunday against Carolina. "That's the way it went down, 80 is my number," he said after Monday's light practice. in the Bergen Record.
Here's a comparison that Cruz can be hopeful of duplicating. Wayne Chrebet was a New Jersey native that played in the Atlantic 10/CAA Football League (at Hofstra), went to training camp with a New York York football team (Jets) wearing No. 3 as a longshot and then switched to No. 80 and had a star-studded career. Can Cruz be like Chrebet? We shall see.
Another story from New York, comes from the Daily News as Victor Cruz garners tons of attention. The story mentions how Cruz benefitted from his time at UMass and having Vladimir Ducasse getting lots of looks from scouts in 2009.
He grew up just 15 minutes from Giants Stadium in Paterson, N.J., and starred at Paterson Catholic HS, scoring 19 touchdowns in an undefeated senior season in 2003. But hardly anyone noticed, the first slight in a career full of them. Even after a year of prep school, the wideout had few college suitors, and wound up at Division I-AA UMass. He thrived, becoming the sixth receiver in school history to top 1,000 receiving yards (in his junior year), and teaming with offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse to fuel an offense that averaged 26.8 points per game last year.
Cruz figured that would draw NFL eyes, especially since scouts were flooding UMass games to evaluate Ducasse, who was picked by the Jets in the second round this April. Cruz thought he'd get a few workouts, eventually hear his name called in the draft.
The New York Post has a great story on UMass alum and New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz.
"It's definitely a surreal feeling to come from where I came from and to go through the ups and downs and to come out the other end and have this brilliant opportunity to succeed," Cruz said, "and be on the team, close to home, that has a winning tradition is truly a blessing and I'm just thankful for everyone in the Giants organization who gave me a chance and believed in me."
Great story from New Jersey's Bergen Record as writer Keith Idec looks at a pair of UMass alums who made the NFL as undrafted free agents: Marcel Shipp and Victor Cruz.
"I take my hat off to him, because when you go in as a free agent, as an underdog, you're really not supposed to make the team," said Shipp, who's finishing up his second training camp with the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives, led by former Giants coach Jim Fassel. "He had to put the hard work in and I saw that first game where he blew up, and he made them into believers."
Victor Cruz said he would probably cry if he made the Giants' active roster. Like the preseason opener against the Jets, he delivered.
"Yeah, I cried. I definitely cried," the Paterson native and undrafted free agent from UMass said by phone Saturday after learning he was one of the 53 players who made the Giants' final cuts. "I tried to fight it back, but it didn't work."
In the CAA, Maine hosts Albany at 7 p.m.; Delaware hosts West Chester at 7 p.m.; Rhode Island plays at Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. and Towson plays at Indiana at 7:30 p.m.
We will have updates here on JTAM throughout the night.
According to U.S. Presswire, UMass alum and New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz tops the list of Rising Sports Stars to watch in the month of September. The list ranks the top ten U.S. sports professionals from all major sports who experienced the greatest relative growth in popularity during the prior 30 days. Cruz has had a breakout pre-season and currently leads the league with 251 receiving yards and four touchdowns. As an undrafted free-agent wide receiver from UMass, Cruz is competing for a spot on the Giants' roster and has quickly emerged as an athlete-to-watch, with 12 catches in just three exhibition games to date.
"Sports fans love a Cinderella story and found one in Victor Cruz after his amazing one-handed scoring catch against the Jets," said Ryan Steelberg, President & CEO of BAT. "Cruz may be the next Miles Austin - an undrafted, young wide receiver who proves himself invaluable on the field."
Quite frankly it would take a huge upset -- perhaps not the caliber of USA hockey over Russia in 1980 Olympic hockey, but close to it -- for Victor Cruz not to be included on the Giants' final 53-man roster. The free agent rookie wideout leads all NFL receivers with 241 yards and four touchdown catches after three exhibition games. Cruz is second in receptions with 12, one behind Cincinnati rookie Jordan Shipley.
Read this story from the Hackensack Record on Cruz's chances of making the Big Blue roster.
Victor Cruz continues to be the story of the New York Giants preseason. He scored his fourth touchdown of the season, with an 11-yard grab in the fourth quarter of the Giants 24-10 loss to the Ravens. Of the Giants seven TDs in the preseason, Cruz has four, more than half! Cruz had four catches for 86 yards and that TD in the game.
Also on Saturday night, Jeromy Miles had three tackles for the Cincinnati Bengals in a 35-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Miles is working hard to earn a spot with the Bengals.
Yahoo Sports has a story on "10 Under The Radar Rookies." Included is UMass product Victor Cruz. Here's what Yahoo had to say:
We're basing Cruz's presence here on one game, but what a game! Against the Jets and their excellent pass defense, Cruz made a definitive statement in his NFL debut, catching six balls for 145 yards and three (!) touchdowns. Cruz followed up with two catches for 30 against the Steelers, and we'llbe looking for more from this UMass product who signed with the G-men as an undrafted free agent. The next challenge for Cruz will be to get numbers like these against first-team defenses.
Also, the Bleacher Report has a column on the Giants and their game vs. Baltimore this weekend. In the story, it states: "I can't wait to see if Eli Manning can connect with victor Cruz this week,if he can i think the Ravens will be in big trouble."
There is also a fun poll: Who is more likely to become successful this year?
Tom Cruise, Victor Cruz, A new religion
More coverage on Victor Cruz with content about his time at UMass in the Berkshire Eagle. Howard Herman writes about Cruz and Holy Cross product Dominic Randolph.
"I was at UMass a long time and their system is pretty similar to the system they use here," Cruz said. "That helped me a lot, being in that slot position and learning how to run routes. UMass helped me a lot."
UMass product Jeremy Horne caught the Kansas City Chiefs' first touchdown of the night in their 20-15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday. He hauled in a 6-yard pass from Matt Cassel in the first quarter.
In the Giants' 24-17 loss to the Steelers, Victor Cruz had two catches for 30 yards including a 20-yard grab. He also returned punts for the Giants. UMass' Brandon London didn't have a catch.
With the Jets, in a 9-3 win, James Ihedigbo had two tackles while Vladimir Ducasse played left guard for much of the second, third and fourth quarters against the Carolina Panthers.
In a game delayed by severe lightning, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Miami Dolphins 27-26. Jeremy Cain snapped seven times on punts and kicks.
Check out Jeff Thomas' story on UMass' connections with the NFL in the Springfield Republican. It includes the eight UMass alums on NFL rosters in preseason along with a mention of some current assistant coaches that played at UMass. Jeremy Cain is joined in Jacksonville by a pair of former UMass captains in Joe Cullen and Ben Albert. Cullen is the defensive line coach and Albert his assistant.
Here is the segment from ESPN's Pardon the Interruption where they talk about Victor Cruz's night, giving him an A+ grad ... Bob Ryan goes out of his way to mention that Cruz is from the "University of Massachusetts!"
Here are a few more stories on Cruz from Tuesday afternoon.
After the Giants win, when greeted by the media corp Victor Cruz said, "You never go into a game thinking you're going to have three touchdowns. But I just want to work hard, and have worked hard all camp. I just wanted to come in and show what I could do on the main stage." He added, "It's definitely a surreal feeling to be on this podium talking to you guys," said Cruz. "Growing up watching the Giants, seeing that blue all my life -- I feel like I'm dreaming right now."
UMass product Victor Cruz had an amazing debut game with the New York Giants. His first catch came on a one-handed 64-yard TD grab from Jim Sorgi late in the third quarter. After a nice 21 yard grab showing his great hands once again, Cruz hauled in a 34-yarder from Sorgi to give the Giants a 24-16 lead in the fourth quarter. Cruz had 145 yards on his six catches for his hometown team in the first-ever game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
Cruz was so popular that LeBron James tweeted @KingJames about Victor Cruz and "Victor Cruz" was listed among the top "trending items" on Twitter.
James wrote: KingJames - Victor Cruz going nuts on the Jets tonight on #MNF. Undrafted rookie from UMass. He's gonna have a job this year for sure
In New York and its surrounding metro area, the game is a preseason
meeting between the region's two National Football League teams in a new
stadium. But in western Massachusetts, tonight's 8 p.m. game between
the Jets and Giants in the Meadowlands has added meaning.
game, which will air on ESPN, will feature three former University of
Massachusetts football players on the field as James Ihedigbo and
Vladimir Ducasse of the Jets will battle Victor Cruz, who is competing
for a spot on the Giants.
NBC22 has a feature on UMass product Victor Cruz, who continues to turn heads at New York Giants Camp. "Victor Cruz! What do we need anybody for? We've got Victor Cruz. How about the plays he made his morning, huh? I'm serious, he's made some outstanding plays. Yesterday, he was going by people out here", says Coach Tom Coughlin.
Former UMass wideout Victor Cruz had what was termed a "breakout performance" in practice on Wednesday morning at New York Giants training camp in Albany. The Paterson, N.J. native is taking advantage of some injuries to other receivers to be noticed. When asked about the injuries, Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin said, "Who needs anybody else? We've got Victor Cruz." The NY Daily News, the Newark Star-Ledger, Newsday, GiantsFootballBlog.com and the Springfield Republican all have stories on Cruz' big day.