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.
GoMUHawks.com: 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."
GoMUHawks.com: 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."
GoMUHawks.com: 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
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."
GoMUHawks.com: 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
GoMUHawks.com: What was that like, getting a call from Coach Ryan?
TO: "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."
GoMUHawks.com: How did you prepare for the draft?
TO: "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."
GoMUHawks.com: How did you do at the Pro Day?
TO: "I did really well, ran a pretty
good 40 time (5.17) and I benched 225 lbs 26 times.
GoMUHawks.com: 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."
GoMUHawks.com: Is there anything else you'd like to add, that we didn't
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
Well thanks for your time Tom and good luck.
-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
-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
. Contact the NEC at 732-469-0440 for call-in
-Follow the Hawks on twitter (@MUHawksFB) and on Facebook (MUFootball).