Imagine sitting together with your buddy on his massive evening, ready with him and understanding that someday quickly, one in every of 32 NFL groups will give him a name with the alert that he’s their latest draft choose.
You marvel together with him the place he could be headed. A reunion within the NFL, after taking part in collectively in faculty, is only a fleeting afterthought.
“We talked about it,” Andrew Thomas, an offensive deal with from Georgia who was chosen by the Giants with the No. 4-overall choose within the 2020 draft, mentioned from fellow Bulldog Azeez Ojulari’s draft get together in Smyrna, Ga. “But when it really comes true, it’s always a different feeling.”
After Olujari, an out of doors linebacker, slid out of the primary spherical, informal conversion became actuality. The Giants, after buying and selling down from No. 42 to No. 50 within the second spherical, gleefully scooped up Ojulari, thought of to be probably the greatest go rushers — if not the most effective — in your entire draft.
“When he got drafted, we thought about it,” Ojulari mentioned. “It could happen one day. So, we were like, ‘It would be cool for us to be teammates coming from Georgia. That would be nice.’ And look at us now: teammates.”
Look at them now.
Ojulari and Thomas have been greater than faculty teammates. They have been roommates.
“I’m excited for him,” Thomas mentioned. “We got a great player, he works hard. I’m excited. He’s definitely going to help our team.”
The two knocked heads in apply. Ojulari mentioned Thomas is the hardest offensive deal with he has ever confronted, however smiled and added “undoubtedly’’ when requested if he bought the higher of him.
“Every single day, good on good, every single day,’’ Ojulari mentioned.
Ojulari had 8.5 sacks this previous season for the Bulldogs. The Giants scouted him extensively. Thomas is aware of him higher than virtually anybody, so far as what he can do on the sphere for a protection.
“I think he has all the intangibles, like he’s fast, he’s strong, has good weight,” mentioned Thomas, who struggled within the first half of his rookie season earlier than displaying appreciable enchancment. “But personally, the factor that I really feel makes him completely different from different guys is his coronary heart and the way he performs the sport. Azeez, he’ll run by means of a brick wall for his teammates. That’s how he performs the sport.’’
The Giants have a factor about gamers from Georgia. They have taken one from that college within the first three rounds in 4 consecutive drafts — linebacker Lorenzo Carter, cornerback DeAndre Baker, Thomas and now Ojulari. They additionally chosen Tae Crowder, a Georgia linebacker, with the ultimate choose of the 2020 draft. Baker was a bust and is not with the Giants.
Head coach Joe Judge, for 3 years, labored with Georgia coach Kirby Smart when the 2 have been collectively on Nick Saban’s workers at Alabama. There is one thing to the Giants-Georgia connection. But, Judge mentioned to not learn an excessive amount of into it.
“Well, I feel the coincidence can be that he simply coaches actually good gamers,’’ Judge mentioned. “They do an excellent job of recruiting prime expertise and [developing] them over the course of [the] time they’re there. Those gamers work arduous and play arduous and perceive the worth of taking part in old style, elementary, bodily soccer. That’s actually what attracts to us.
“Me and Kirby, we labored three years at Alabama. I’ve a whole lot of respect for him as an individual, and I’ve a whole lot of respect for him as a coach. When you realize the place somebody is coming from, you might have a bit of little bit of perception in how one can coach them; OK, what actually makes them tick and the way they reply in hostile conditions.’’
Thomas, a 12 months forward of Ojulari at Georgia, known as his new Giants teammate “not tremendous outgoing, however in the event you get to know him, he’s an actual chill dude. He’s humorous.’’
Ojulari is aware of he’ll see acquainted faces when he arrives for work with the Giants.
“It’s just great just having my brothers up there already,’’ he said. “They’ve been there, so they can teach me and tell me things. So, I just can’t wait to get up there with those guys and be ready to work.”