Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Victor Cruz embracing Super Bowl spotlight

MCT

MCT

Flashing grins and sporting his No. 80 New York Giants jersey, Victor Cruz was a popular attraction and the talk of the town in Indianapolis as part of Super Bowl XVLI Media Day, Tuesday.

Cruz, as well as several of his Giants teammates and members of the opposing New England Patriots, gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium – the site of this Sunday’s Super Bowl – where they were greeted by hundreds of reporters as part of arguably the biggest media frenzy in sports.

While the media expectedly hounded players like Tom Brady and Eli Manning, two men who are used to this kind of attention, the day meant something else for Cruz, who has overcome several challenges to be where he is today.
The former University of Massachusetts wide receiver, twice kicked off the team for poor academic standing, has made the most of his last opportunity to shape up and get his life back on track.

After going undrafted in 2010, Cruz signed with the Giants and started seeing regular playing time this season.
He caught 82 passes for a Giants record 1,536 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season, and he was Manning’s go-to man in the NFC Championship game, where he had 10 receptions and racked up 142 yards to help the Giants reach the Super Bowl.

His play has helped put his hometown of Paterson, N.J. on the map and his signature salsa number on the end zone touchdown dance menu, and he explained on Tuesday how it’s all been possible.

“A lot of hard work, a lot of determination, man,” said Cruz. “Just understanding that whatever options or opportunities come my way, I have to break through and make sure I do what I can to go through those doors that weren’t open for me before.”

While much of the talk at his podium centered on his rags-to-riches story, Cruz was also all business as he prepares for Sunday’s big game against the Patriots.

Cruz was all smiles after Deion Sanders, a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer and current analyst for the NFL Network, asked him if he smiles when he looks at tape of the Patriots’ secondary, one that  ranked 31st in the league in passing defense this season.

“A little bit. Just naturally when you see one of their defensive backs is a wide receiver and he’s going to be potentially covering you, you automatically just get excited,” Cruz said in reference to Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who has seen regular playing time in the secondary this season.

“You want to do your best to kind of exploit that, so obviously as a receiver and as a competitor in general, when you see a matchup you can exploit, you want to take advantage of it.”

Another matchup Cruz will try and come out on top of will be one with one of his former teammates.

James Ihedigbo, another UMass alum, will start this Sunday at safety for the Patriots. Cruz talked last week about how special it is for them to be going up against one another given where they came from.

“It was a tremendous ride,” Cruz said of his time at UMass. “We understand how much of a small school it is and how little guys get an opportunity to come out of that school.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at shewitt@student.umass and followed on Twitter @MDC_Hewitt.

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