Viral college star whose story turned tragic signs with Giants

The Giants take great pride in their ability to identify, sign and develop players who were overlooked or ignored in the draft. The bottom portion of the roster is usually reserved for undrafted free agents, and it is an area in which the Giants have prospered.

Currently, the Giants have hopes for safety Andrew Adams, defensive end Romeo Okwara and receiver Roger Lewis Jr., all players brought in a year ago as rookie free agents. In the fairly recent past, the Giants won two Super Bowls with strong contributions from undrafted players they uncovered, such as Rich Seubert, Chase Blackburn, Henry Hynoski and Jake Ballard. Of course, the patron saint of undrafted free agents with the Giants is Victor Cruz.

Heading into this year’s draft, there were more undrafted players (481) on NFL rosters than they were first- and second-round picks (480), according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Giants on defense are anchored by linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas, who was not drafted out of Wisconsin, and Damon “Snacks’’ Harrison, who was not drafted out of William Penn.

It is not unusual for the Giants to express more excitement about a player or two they pluck off the undrafted free agent heap than they are about a late-round draft pick.

“It feels good when it’s over,’’ Marc Ross, the Giants’ vice president of player evaluation, said moments after the sixth round on Saturday, the last round his team had a selection. “But it’s not over because we have all these undrafted free agents. Got to start attacking, and this is really the fun part right now. Everything else was structured and easy, this process is very hectic.’’

The Giants are not afraid to throw some money at a few undrafted players they are especially eager to sign. Dollars don’t hurt, of course, and wooing these often-disappointed players — passed over in all seven rounds of the draft — is a part of the player procurement system the Giants embrace.

“We try to make those guys feel special throughout the process,’’ Ross said. “We host players here, we try to stay in contact with them, almost as if it’s college recruiting. So we want those guys to feel special so when the time comes and we’re calling them, it’s not just a coach going down a list and checking off who is next. It’s that they actually feel like the New York Giants want them to be a part of this organization.’’

Sometimes it is Ross or scouts making the calls. Sometimes it is assistant coaches making the sales pitch.

“We try to hit them with everything that we’ve got,’’ Ross said.

The Giants, based on social media reports from players and schools, have signed 17 undrafted free agents, and every one of them has a unique story and a familiar dream. Travis Rudolph, a receiver from Florida State, garnered national attention and social media celebrity when he sat down and befriended Bo Paske, an autistic boy, so that Paske would not eat lunch alone at his middle…

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