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Courtesy: Monmouth University Photo


Courtesy: Monmouth Sports Information
Release: August 01, 2011
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Recently, caught up with recent New York Jet and former Hawk Tom Ottaiano on signing a undrafted free agent contract among other things.  Ottaiano transferred to Monmouth from Hofstra after the football program was cut on the Long Island school.  He started all 11 games in 2010 for the Hawks on the offensive line at center and guard. Tom, first congratulations, tell us a little bit about how you are feeling a day after signing with the Jets-

Tom Ottaiano:  "It has been truly a blessing. I've worked really hard the last couple months.  I have to give a lot of credit to my family who supported me.  It hit me today when I was sitting in an offensive line meeting.  I live and grew up five minutes from the new facility [Florham Park], it has just been an unbelievable experience so far." Tell us about draft day?

TO: "I got called on draft day from the Jets after the draft, they said they would keep in touch through my agent Art Weiss, who is also Chris Hogan's agent too (MU wideout Chris Hogan also signed a UDFA contract after the lockout, with the San Francisco 49ers).  Weiss is a Hofstra guy, formally Wayne Chrebet's agent (Former New York Jet and Hofstra wide receiver).  He told me that he thought my best workout had been for the Jets."  How did you handle the news of the lockout, knowing that if you didn't get drafted you would have to wait possibly months to get signed.

TO: "It was hard at first to tell you truth.  I am a positive person and I stayed optimistic, I knew some way, somehow, it was going to work in my favor.  I had some opportunities to work out after my pro day for a few teams, so I knew a couple of them were interested in me." So who made the call to you, how did it all go down?

TO: "Coach [NYJ Head Coach Rex] Ryan called me to ask if I wanted to be a Jet."  What was that like, getting a call from Coach Ryan?

"It was unbelievable, at first I didn't know what to say. I sat down and processed it all.  He told me knows I am a local guy, knew I worked hard and he wanted to give me the opportunity of a lifetime.  Just being a part of this organization is unbelievable, I am truly blessed." How did you prepare for the draft?

"I was just working hard everyday after the season ended.  I had a Pro Day in early March at Rutgers.  A couple of pro teams requested me and they allowed me to be at their Pro Day because I was a North Jersey guy.  My agent worked hard to get me in there and I think that the situation with Hofstra helped me get in there too.  I also had been working out at DeFranco's Gym regularly and I spent 10 weeks at a facility in Florida." How did you do at the Pro Day?

"I did really well, ran a pretty good 40 time (5.17) and I benched 225 lbs 26 times. So how was your first day?

TO: "I actually reported yesterday (July 26) for a voluntary workout, signed my contract and got a physical.  Today we got together as an offensive line and an offense.  We went over the playbook a bit, I am just trying to learn as much as possible from the veterans." Is there anything else you'd like to add, that we didn't touch on?

TO: "I wouldn't have this opportunity if [Monmouth Head Coach] Coach Callahan and [MU Offensive Line Coach] Coach Gabriel didn't give me another shot at Monmouth. Coming to Monmouth is one of the best things to ever happen to me, not only from a football sense but I know I met friends here that I'll have forever."
Well thanks for your time Tom and good luck.

TO: Thank you.

Additional Notes:
-The Jets started preseason camp officially on Sunday, July 31. 
-Three former Hofstra players, including Ottaiano, signed undrafted free agent contracts (Deron Mayo; Old Dominion; Denver Broncos and Tressor Baptiste; Texas A&M Kingsville; Chicago Bears). 
-Ottaiano's first meeting was a three hour meeting with the New York Jets offensive line.
-Monmouth starts 2011 preseason camp on Sunday, August 7.
-Monmouth now has four players on NFL squads (Miles Austin- Dallas Cowboys) (John Nalbone, Philadelphia Eagles) along with Hogan and Ottaiano.
-The Northeast Conference Preseason teleconference is scheduled for Wednesday August 3rd.  Contact the NEC at 732-469-0440 for call-in information.
-Follow the Hawks on twitter (@MUHawksFB) and on Facebook (MUFootball).
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