From Plumber to Pro, New York Giants’ Rookie Beating is Devastating Odds
The New York Giants already have a number of players on their roster that are considered fan-favorites. Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones are part of the list on the offensive end, with Dexter Lawrence and Xavier McKinney representing on the defensive end.
Earlier this week, a new player reported to the New York Giants' offseason camp for the first time, and when Giants' fans learn his story, he'll become a favorite of theirs in no-time.
Leonard Johnson Perseveres Through Injury to Live NFL Dream in New York
The New York Post's Ryan Dunleavy penned the incredible story of Leonard Johnson, an undrafted cornerback out of Duke University, who reported to camp for the New York Giants in East Rutherford on Monday morning. Johnson recently signed a three-year, $2.69 million contract with the team this offseason.
So, we know he's an undrafted player on whom the Giants are taking a chance this offseason. What's so special about that?
The special part of Johnson's story, is that this opportunity almost never happened for him.
Let's rewind this story a bit. Johnson made his collegiate debut for Duke during the 2018 season. Ironically enough, Johnson's first year with the Blue Devils was also Daniel Jones' last, as the QB would get taken in the 2019 NFL Draft months later.
In his four seasons with Duke, he started 39 games and missed one of a possible 48 total. He made 165 total tackles, forced three fumbles, and recorded six total interceptions, including the one captured in the video below.
He was the picture of health and consistency all the way through Duke's Pro Day in 2021. Then, two weeks later, the late-round draft prospect was hit with the ultimate dose of adversity: a torn ACL and torn meniscus during an offseason workout.
The injury didn't deter Johnson from chasing his dream, but it did, however, put his dream on-hold. News of the injury led to him not hearing his name called during in the draft in 2022, and from there, the battle to return to the playing field began.
Leonard Johnson has been known for his work ethic for years, well before joining the Giants. Take a look at these clips of his training regimen:
During his down time in-between physical therapy sessions, Johnson recognized that he had to make ends meet. So, according to Dunleavy and The Post, he asked a friend’s father for a job at A&T Burrow Septic Tank and Sewer Service, and began removing the 100-pound lids on septic tanks and fixing leaky pipes near his home in northern Alabama.
He never let the injury completely erase his dream, and now, he's set to begin living it, just one year behind schedule.
The Giants reportedly hosted him for private workouts last month, and apparently, the team liked what they saw. Johnson was offered a contract akin to what he would've been offered as a late-round draft pick in 2022, and is currently participating in the team's optional offseason program.
So, if you were looking for a new "favorite player" on this year's Giants' team, keep an eye on Leonard Johnson. He's defied expectations before, and he's set to do it again.