Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Victor Cruz Making Minutemen Everywhere Proud

Courtesy of Getty Images

If you’re anything like me, you’re a New England native, an avid football fan, and you hate the Giants. The culmination of this hate has everything to do with Super Bowl XLII and the shattered dream of a perfect season, and yet so much to do with Eli Manning being the awkward, little brother of arch-nemesis Peyton. You’ve continued to carry this hatred until now in 2011, and Super Bowl XLVI seemed like our chance to take back what is rightfully ours. I’ll try to refrain from pouring salt in a very open wound, because we all still know what took place last Sunday night.

With that being said, the only silver lining I can manage to find in this heartbreaking loss is the continued success story of former Minuteman Victor Cruz. As I stated in my article after Week 3 of the season, Cruz showed great promise and potential to become a frequent target of the younger Manning. And boy did he make me look smart. After setting a Giants franchise-record for receiving yards in a season (1,536), tying an NFL record for the longest TD catch (99 yards), and setting the NFL world ablaze with his signature endzone salsa moves, Cruz has blossomed into an absolute stud for the hated G-Men.

Cruz played an integral role in the Giants season turnaround, catching 9 balls for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns in the final two regular season games to help the Giants reach the playoffs in two must-win games. He then was practically blanketed in the first two games of the postseason, as opponents keyed in on him knowing he was perhaps their biggest threat for a game-breaking play. Cruz followed that up by catching 10 passes for 142 yards, and playing through pain with shoulder and leg injuries in the NFC Championship game versus the 49ers to lead the Giants back to the Super Bowl in a rematch of SBXLII against our beloved Patriots and QB Tom Brady.

Cruz quickly added to his résumé by hauling in a quick two-yard pass from Manning and dancing his Giants to an early 9-0 lead. Other than that, he was double-teamed and jammed to the outside all night long. But that alone might be as big of a testament to his colossal growth to superstardom to know that Bill Belichick felt that Cruz was the player he most wanted to remove from the game. By the time the final whistle had blown, Cruz had 4 catches for 25 yards and a score, and was now walking around as a Super Bowl champion. As I sat sullen and distraught in my seat in front of the television, the image came up of Manning passing the Lombardi trophy over to Cruz. The feeling that followed temporarily washed away my sorrows, and I was injected with a strong sense of UMass pride. Cruz held the trophy, closed his eyes, shook his head, and simply smiled. It was almost a surreal moment where you knew he quickly thought to himself, “I can’t believe I’m here right now.” And neither could I, as it was only three years ago that I was sitting in the stands at McGuirk Stadium watching him haul in passes on a mediocre FCS team.

You have to remember that UMass isn’t like LSU or Alabama, and we don’t pump out NFL stars like it’s going out of style. To see someone from our school have the 13th most popular jersey in the NFL is a testament to Cruz, and he deserves all the credit he can get.

His hard work, dedication to his profession, and humbleness are something we all can admire as we all one day hope to join him as UMass alumni. Things we won’t be able to mimic are his ability to catch a football, his elusiveness and speed, and his slick dancing moves. Despite this, we can all learn from and admire someone like Victor Cruz. He may have beaten our Patriots, but he makes us all proud to be Minutemen and say, “He went to my school.”

Tyler Galicia can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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    JPFeb 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Wow very well written and very true great job…