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Plenty of Carolina roots for Giants players and coaches

MARVIN AUSTIN Defensive tackle, North Carolina Austin would

Defensive tackle, North Carolina
Austin would have been a high first-round pick if he weren’t suspended for all of last season while at North Carolina. Still, Austin (6-2, 309) has big-time talent. The question is whether he’ll put his problems behind him and find focus. Credit: AP

In case the Giants needed another reason to get up for this game, consider the abnormally high number of players and coaches who have roots in North Carolina and are lilely considering this game a homecoming of sorts.

Among the players, Marvin Austin and Hakeem Nicks played at North Carolina, Andre Brown, Markus Kuhn and Sean Locklear played at NC State, and Linval Joseph played at East Carolina. Nicks (Charlotte), Brown (Greenville) and Locklear (Lumberton) also grew up in North Carolina. (By the way, that's Austin in the picture above playing for the Tar Heels.)

But those are just the players.

Perry Fewell is from Gastonia, NC, played at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC (where he is a Hall of Famer!) and was a grad assistant at UNC in 1985 and 86. Safeties coach Dave Merritt played at NC State. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty coached at East Carolina in 1992 and at Wake Forest from 1993-98. And even strength and conditioning coach Jerry Palmieri received a post-graduate degree at UNC.

Perhaps the Giant with the deepest roots in North Carolina, though, is tight ends coach Mike pope. He is from Monroe, NC, and he, like Fewell, played at Lenoir-Rhyne. In fact, he was the quarterback on a team that won a national championship and finished as runner-up the following season. Just like Fewell, he’s in the Lenoir-Rhyne Hall of Fame. Pope began his coaching career in 1964 at Lenoir High School and also coached high school football in Charlotte before moving on to Florida high schools, then college, and then to the NFL.


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