Will Tye #45 of the New York Giants scores a...

Will Tye #45 of the New York Giants scores a third quarter touchdown against Thomas Davis #58 of the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Will Tye has spent his rookie season as the unheralded kid from Stony Brook University who is the first from his school to play in the pros. He wasn’t even in the NFL when the season began and has spent the past three months living a dream.

Next year, though, he hopes to be seen as something more: an NFL player. A legitimate one.

That’s the next step for him, and he’s looking forward to it.

“That’s what I need,” he told Newsday on Wednesday, reflecting on the ending of his rookie season and making the leap from gimmicky Seawolf sideshow to established second-year threat. “I need to separate and grow. That’s what I need to do.”

Which is not to say he hasn’t enjoyed or been productive as a rookie. Since he was activated from the practice squad on Oct. 4, Tye has become a pleasant surprise and a starter at a position riddled by injuries. His 37 catches for 397 yards are the fourth-best receiving numbers on the team and tops among rookie tight ends in this year’s class. He’s also scored a pair of touchdowns.

“That’s definitely a good thing,” he said of the numbers. “It shows that the hard work is paying off, that the team has trust in me and that I can do anything.”

Tye said he’ll spend some time training at the Giants’ facility in the next few weeks, then will split time between New Jersey and his home in Connecticut. He’ll be watching closely as changes are made to the team — including the coaching staff and front office — that might affect his future with the Giants.

“That’s going to take care of itself,” he said. “I put my work in and my work will show for itself.”

Whatever happens, Tye said he is “beyond excited” for 2016.

“I know I’m going to know a lot more,” he said. “More experience from playing. There’ll be nerves, but good nerves. There weren’t bad nerves this year, but just the not knowing. Next year there will be little differences . . . I can just play and next year I’ll be that much faster. And we should see better results.”

Not that this year has been all that shabby. In fact, it’s been pretty awesome.

“I can’t believe it,” Tye said of everything that happened to him. “But I definitely enjoyed myself. I definitely had fun and I’m even more excited for next year.”

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