Fulfilling a Dream

Former Syracuse offensive lineman Matt Tarullo has an interesting story to tell. TheRanchReport.com caught up with the undrafted free agent this weekend to get the latest.

Imagine being a young baseball player and a lifetime fan of the New York Yankees. When you get a call from Willie Randolph -- a longtime star in the Yankee infield -- asking you to play for him with his new team, the Mets, is there really any decision to be made?

Of course not.

Like many residents of Albany, N.Y., Matt Tarullo grew up a huge fan of the New York Giants. To Tarullo and the rest of the Giants faithful, Bill Parcells was The Godfather. Parcells, of course, coached the great Giants teams that featured stars like Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms.

After decades of average (or worse) play, the Giants finally got back to -- and won -- a Super Bowl under Parcells. "Coach Parcells was an idol of mine," Tarullo said after the Cowboys' rookie mini-camp at which he began his pursuit of a spot on the roster as an offensive lineman (he played center in the mini-camp). "Those teams with Lawrence Taylor, Pepper Johnson -- those were my teams. To get yelled at by Coach Parcells -- that's almost an honor. I even called my dad to tell him about it -- 'I got yelled at by Coach Parcells!'

"You just have to remember that if a coach is yelling at you, he wants you to do better. When he doesn't yell at you, that's when you need to be worried. If a coach doesn't get in your face, he doesn't care. He doesn't want you."

If that's what Tarullo considers flattery, he's in the right place. Parcells is known to voice his opinions quite freely. Aside from the joy of getting Parcells to "share his opinion," Tarullo admitted he was apprehensive about the weekend mini-camp.

"I expected the worst," Tarullo said. "I was expecting it to be hot, but it wasn't that hot. But there's a lot of strong guys here, a lot of well-built guys. They give you good competition."

Tarullo had other options with other teams. But the decision to come to Dallas was a no-brainer.

"I just wanted a chance," he said, "to see if I can play. In the seventh round (of last week's NFL Draft), my phone started exploding. I'd see a message on the phone, and by the time I checked it, there would be four.

"I talked to Coach (Paul) Pasqualoni -- he'd down here now (the former Syracuse is the new Dallas tight ends coach) -- and he said 'you've got to get down here. That was it -- no question."

The 6-foot-5.5-inch, 314-pound Tarullo lined up at center in the mini-camp, but said he expects to be moved from center to guard when the rest of the line shows up.

"That's one thing I can do, play more than one position," Tarullo said. "'Coach P,' it's great having him down here. Playing for him … Coach P will tell you, you need to be smart to play for him. Part of that is flexibility to play more than one spot, but you've got to be quick, you've got to learn fast. You've got to be smart, and you've got to learn. You've got to be smart to play for Syracuse, and you've got to be smart to play for Coach Parcells."

While Tarullo is thrilled to be playing for his boyhood idol, he's not so sure his friends and family switched their allegiances quite as quickly.

"On draft day, my dad was just shaking his head," Tarullo said. "He said 'the Cowboys?' He just shook his head. Everyone up there was a Giants fan … until last week.

"I think once my dad sees me in this helmet, though, he'll come around."

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