Two years ago, Mark Herzlich was getting himself back into shape and for a return to the field for Boston College after cancer forced him to miss a season. One year ago, Herzlich sat there at the NFL draft and waited and waited before realizing he wasn’t going to be selected. But now Herzlich is a linebacker for the Giants, and he thinks he’s ready to crack the starting lineup.
Herzlich, who started two games at middle linebacker last year, told the Star-Ledger he thinks the starting job can be his for 16 games this year.
“It’s mine for the taking,” Herzlich said. “I wish the best for everybody else, but it’s still a competition. I want the team to do well, and if it’s not the spot that the coaches want me in, then that’s one thing. But the way I look at it is, there is a place that I can play and I don’t want anyone to take that away from me.”
Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley will also get a chance to earn the starting job in the middle, but whether Herzlich wins the job or not, he has already accomplished a lot more than anyone thought he would a year ago, when he went undrafted as teams questioned whether he could ever return to the form he showed as the 2008 ACC defensive player of the year, before he was diagnosed with cancer.
“If I was going to get drafted, there was going to be at least one team who overlooked the cancer and said, ‘All right, he’s taken a step past it, he’s on the way to being the player he was again,’” Herzlich said. “After round five, it’s like, ‘Okay, well no one’s looked past that.’ And so I kind of knew around rounds six and seven that it wasn’t going to happen.”
But Herzlich has made it happen for himself. And he’s not done proving everyone wrong.