For James O’Hagan, the Giants’ preseason opener will bring his football life thus far almost full circle.
His father, a big Jets fan back in the day, once owned season tickets for Gang Green. That meant O’Hagan and the rest of his family often made the trip from Seaford to the Meadowlands, including for preseason games.
“My first preseason game ever, just attending, was Jets-Giants,” O’Hagan said Tuesday after practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
On Thursday night, the O’Hagan clan once again will be in attendance for a Jets-Giants preseason game. Only this time, O'Hagan will be on the field for it.
“It’s surreal,” the rookie center said.
The game is just the latest step for O’Hagan and Babylon’s Jake Carlock in their fight to make the Giants’ 53-man roster as undrafted free agents. Both players may get some reps at some point in the night, each one a chance for them to show the Giants —and the rest of the NFL — that they have what it takes to stick around. The Jets also have a Long Island native who could see the field: Elmont native Justin Alexandre, a defensive lineman.
“Just trying to get one percent better each day,” O’Hagan said of his approach for the game.
Having his family cheering him on in the stands should help, just as they have from his early days playing football to his time at Buffalo.
“Just having them there supporting me, my entire family for the most part, I think is something really special, and I think that I sometimes take it for granted,” he said. “I just have a great support system that’s been helping me through from when I was in peewee to now. They’ve been there every step of the way, so they’re not stopping now.
Carlock conceded that he’ll be a little extra pumped for Thursday night beyond the typical pregame hype. The LIU Post product grew up a lifelong Giants fan, and he said he’ll have two busloads of family and friends at the game watching him.
“It’s been something that I’ve been dreaming of my whole life,” Carlock said. “I’m excited to get out there, run around, hopefully make a couple of plays and just enjoy the moment.”
Carlock, who is transitioning from defensive back to more of an edge-rushing linebacker, also is excited to finally hit someone, too. Tackling is limited during the early part of training camp as the team tries to protect its players from, well, themselves. That means no tackling receivers over the middle, no dragging down running backs behind the line and certainly no sacking the quarterback.
That’ll all change Thursday night.
Said Carlock: “We’ll go out and play some real football.”