Each year at training camp, there always seems to be that one player you want to make the 53-man roster out of the 90 men that show up on Day 1. Well, for many, that players just might have to be offensive lineman Austin Droogsma.
Droogsma certainly has the height and weight of an offensive lineman (6-foot-4, 345 pounds), but that isn't what he played at Florida State. Instead, Droogsma was focused on his track and field career as a shot-putter. He was one of the best in the NCAA, finishing fourth at the indoor championships in 2018.
But he figured his sports days were over, as he looked for a real world job following graduation. That is until the Giants came calling.
ESPN's Jordan Raanan spoke to Droogsma about his journey with the Giants thus far, and he had to admit he thought the New Jersey number that called him was a scammer when it came through in April.
"I kind of thought it was some weird scam," he said. "That they were going to ask me for my credit card to pay for a $150 camp fee and ask for my credit card over the phone. In that case, it would have been no shot. And then, it didn't really set in until they sent the flight information and hotel confirmation. Then it was legit. This is actually happening."
After agreeing to the tryout, Droogsma had just eight days to prepare, so he needed to get down to business to re-learn football. He recruited another former Seminole, offensive lineman Landon Dickerson, to be his O-line guide. Dickerson, who transferred to Alabama in the spring, began working with Droogsma to get his form and technique down. More FSU linemen would come to work with Droogsma, too, as he started to find what worked for him.
Well, it all worked out as the Giants liked what they saw. Droogsma signed a three-year, $1.7555 million standard rookie deal, and the Giants know they were signing an outside-the-box project to work with.
"I thought I did a lot of things right. I thought I did a lot of things wrong," Droogsma said about his tryout. "I obviously showed them enough to give me a call back and give me a longer look. It was really surreal to get out there."
Droogsma has been in New Jersey at the team's facility throughout the offseason learning his new offense under head coach Pat Shurmur. Knowing the X's and O's and who to block on certain plays is the another important part of learning the game over again, which Droogsma says is "coming along."
Shumur, though, has seen his hustle on and off the field, and believes he's been doing a stand-up job thus far.
"He's coming along quickly," he said. "He's a big guy. He's a good athlete. He learns pretty well, he's a guy that hasn't done it for a long time. He's doing a good job."
Offensive line coach Hal Hunter added: "You can look at it as he has no bad habits. He has no good habits, but he has no bad habits. So you're starting with a blank tape, which is sometimes easier than a teape you have to erase."
The Giants figure to put Droogsma at left guard at the moment, but that could obviously change as he tries to find the right fit in the line. At the moment, Droogsma is probably willing to work anywhere, but guard makes the most sense given his size and brute strength.
With camp beginning in a couple weeks, the real battle for Droogsma begins. It will certainly be an uphill one, as the added intensity will find its way to all 90 players yearning for the same goal. But he has the perfect mentality after realizing how crazy this journey has been already.
"Hey man, I haven't done that in three years," Droogsma said. "'I don't think that's a great idea.' Then three years later it's like, 'Hmmm, let's try the NFL!' I didn't want to do it in college but let's try the NFL.