Carter Coughlin and Ryan Connelly will be linebackers for the Giants this season. The last time they were teammates, though, they were on opposite sides of the ball.
The two players attended Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School, where Coughlin was a linebacker and Connelly, two years ahead of him in school, was . . . the quarterback.
“He was a monster as a quarterback,” Coughlin recalled on Tuesday. “I mean, he was built like a linebacker, he was crazy athletic and super-smart . . . I still remember him standing on the 50-yard line with his feet planted and being able to hook the ball all the way to the end zone without an issue. He had a cannon for an arm.”
Connelly went to Wisconsin, where he was converted into a middle linebacker and was drafted by the Giants last spring. He suffered an ACL tear at midseason just as he was beginning to blossom as a starting player.
“It’s awesome that he switched over to linebacker,” Coughlin said. “It clearly worked out for him.”
Coughlin stayed home and played for Minnesota, where both his father and grandfather played (and where his mother played varsity tennis), and became an outside linebacker. The Giants drafted him in the seventh round on Saturday, hoping that he can bring energy to special teams and the pass rush. He’s a bit undersized as an NFL edge rusher (6-3, 236), but the Giants are thin at that spot and will take contributions from wherever they can get them.
“A lot of it is watching film,” Coughlin said of the key to putting pressure on quarterbacks in the NFL. “That played out a lot for me in college, identifying what the opposing offensive tackle struggles with, how he moves his feet, how he shoots his hands, whether he leans, all that kind of stuff. That transfers even more in the NFL because, from what I’ve heard, it’s a whole bunch of film and note-taking, and that’s right in my wheelhouse. I’ll be able to continue to develop those skills of learning and taking notes and watching film.”
As for where he heard that about the NFL, well, it may have been from his high school quarterback.
“He texted me on draft day and I had a chance to call him [Monday] night,” Coughlin said of Connelly. “He gave me a little rundown on a bunch of stuff. It’s awesome to connect with him and I’ll be able to get some awesome wisdom from him.”