Shiancoe told Nebraska "No."
"Yeah I did," Shiancoe said. "I didn't feel like I was ready yet. You do what's best for you. Morgan State was the best choice for me." Five years later, Shiancoe is finally ready to play on the big stage. He was the Giants' third-round draft choice on April 26, and they project him to play alongside super-sophomore Jeremy Shockey in what could be a very prominent role.
The Giants are looking for a replacement for Dan Campbell in their two tight-end offense. And they're willing to trust that spot to a man who spurned the powerful Cornhuskers for the anonymity of tiny Morgan State.
"There was a lot of people telling me that it was going to be hard to get to the NFL (from Morgan State)," Shiancoe said during his first mini-camp with the Giants. "But when I went to college I really wasn't expecting the NFL. But if God has a plan for you it's going to happen, no matter where you are."
Shiancoe got to the NFL thanks to what the Giants believe is a superior athletic ability that compared favorably to any of the "big school" players. The 6-4, 251-pounder had 52 catches for 1,001 yards at Morgan State, even though he didn't start until he was a junior. As a senior he caught 25 passes for 510 yards for a 20.4 yards-per-catch average. He also had five touchdowns, including one that went for 75 yards. The Giants first took notice of Shiancoe in October, during his senior season. But everyone took notice in February at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. While there, "Shank" shocked everyone by running a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, vertical jumping 39½ inches and benching 225 pounds an impressive 28 times.
"He just absolutely knocked the lights out at Indianapolis," Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said. "He was the star of Indianapolis. He was at the top level on all the drills."
The Giants thought so highly of him they considered taking him with their second-round pick. In fact, they even considered trading up in the third round to get him. When he was still sitting there in the third (91st overall) they wasted no time making the call.
The Giants believe they got a steal – a player who will eventually develop into a decent blocker with much more receiving skills than Campbell. "He's not Campbell," Accorsi said. "He's kind of the opposite. He's not this big, powerful blocker. I think he has the kind of athletic body that he could become an excellent blocker. But he just has more receiver skills." Shiancoe – whose parents are from Liberia and who has an Indian first name and an African last name – believes he is "a tenacious blocker," which is mostly a product of his incredible self-confidence. According to Accorsi, Shiancoe told Giants scout Rosie Brown "I'm better than Shockey." And while Shiancoe backed off that statement at mini-camp, he did add, "I can't say that – yet."
"Jeremy Shockey is probably one of the best tight ends in the NFL," Shiancoe said. "There's a lot I can learn from him. And I'm really excited about that. I can't wait for him to take me under his wing and teach me a lot of things."
That, incredibly, is something the Giants are counting on. Shockey was considered very immature as a rookie, often getting into trouble with his words and his actions. And it could've been much worse if Campbell – a veteran whose place Shockey has essentially taken – hadn't taken the rookie under his wing. Now the Giants hope Shockey will play the role of Campbell for Shiancoe. And that's something Shockey seems very willing to do. "I don't think there's a person that could've done a better job than Dan in that aspect," Shockey said. "But I'm going to help this guy as much as possible. As much as he's willing to learn, I'm going to be willing to teach him." "Being around Jeremy is infectious," Giants Coach Jim Fassel added. "What he'll pick up from him right off the bat is the game is important to Jeremy. He's a competitor. He competes every day. Jeremy's still got a lot still to learn. But will Jeremy be a great role model for him and help him? Yes."
If he can, the Giants' offense could be even better than it was last season. Imagine a player who can block like Campbell, but can be a receiving threat, too. That could open up the offense for Shockey even more.
"The thing our coaches have made very clear was that our best, most productive formation was two tight ends, two wideouts and one back," Accorsi said. "We lost Campbell. This guy will have to learn to be as good a blocker as Campbell. But he's faster and he's got great hands so we're very excited. And if we didn't think he was going to be an outstanding blocker, we wouldn't have drafted him."
Where he fits in
Shiancoe isn't just going to ‘back up' Shockey. The Giants most successful formation last season utilized two tight ends. They certainly don't want to settle for Marcellus Rivers being the second half of that tandem. Rivers is an excellent special teams player and will continue in that role. But that's why Shiancoe has every opportunity to receive plenty of snaps this season, right from the get-go. He just has to prove he knows what he's doing.
"Shiancoe is very athletic, fast and has very good hands. And he's strong. This kid did 28 reps at the combine. He's going to make a nice, complementary receiver to [Jeremy] Shockey. Teams are going to have to balance up and play us honest. They're not going to be able to double-team one guy when we go with two tight ends. They're not going to just be able to put a linebacker on this kid and expect to cover him." – Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese