Item: Organized Team Activities (OTAs) got underway for the New York Giants Monday at their New Jersey practice facility. While all eyes are on the beginning of the quarterback cross-over era involving Eli Manning and Daniel Jones (Syracuse misses Jones by a season at Duke when the Orange play in Durham Nov. 16), a couple of ex-Syracuse standouts will be looking to turn heads during the 10 scheduled sessions, the latest ex-Orange players looking to make an NFL mark with Big Blue.
Did you know that the first player ever drafted out of Syracuse into the NFL went to the New York Giants?
In the 1936 draft held in Philadelphia, or technically the Player Selection Meeting as it was known in its origin, offensive guard Ed Jontos was chosen in the fifth round by the Giants. Jontos never played in the NFL, spending the ‘36 season as a first-year assistant coach to former Orangemen player and double Hall of Famer Vic Hanson, who concluded his seventh and final season as a head coach that year.
After Jontos, the Giants drafted nine other Syracuse players up to the Dome era, highlighted by selecting four members of the 1959 national championship team over three drafts between 1960-62.
Since Joe Morris electrified the still-Dome record crowd of 50, 564 in the building’s first football game in 1980 with a 94 yard kickoff return for a touchdown among four total TDs in the 36-24 win over Miami-Ohio, and was subsequently drafted by the Giants in the second round in 1982, there has been a noteworthy SU connection to the NYG, including Super Bowl Championships.
Both Morris in Super Bowl XXI and David Tyree (2003 sixth round) and his famous helmet catch against New England’s Rodney Harrison in Super Bowl XLII tasted titles, while recently Justin Pugh (first round) and record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib (fourth round) were 2013 Giants draftees, followed by Jay Bromley (third round) in 2014, and Chris Slayton (seventh round) this April.
Joining Slayton as a rookie looking to make the Giants is another record-setting ex-SU quarterback, but unlike Nassib, Eric Dungey has to change positions and contribute on special teams to have a shot at playing on Sundays (or Mondays and Thursdays).
Dungey’s status as an undrafted free agent on a team that spent the sixth overall pick on Jones as the heir to Manning means his athleticism will be tested as a tight end or in other formations to get his hands on the ball, and big frame and constantly moving feet scurrying around the turf.
During Monday’s opening day, Dungey, a late attendee due to apparent travel issues, participated in special teams drills, while Slayton, hoping to provide some depth on the D-Line got time on the first team with other players also missing due to travel delays or injury.
The two rookies are the latest in an 83 year connection between upstate Syracuse football and the metropolitan area’s New York Football Giants.