Prior to his selection by the Giants in the 2004 NFL Draft, defensive end Isaac Hilton had already enjoyed an afternoon of glory at Giants Stadium.
That was last October when Hilton became Hampton University's all-time career sacks leader during the Pirates' victory over Morgan State in the annual Urban Classic. Hilton was named Defensive MVP in the nationally televised contest and was beginning to attract serious attention from NFL scouts.
Blessed with a well-defined 6-3, 251-pound frame, 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash and exemplary pass-rushing skills, Hilton was initially projected as an early round selection in April's NFL Draft.
But he remained on the board until the Giants selected him with the third-to-last pick in the seventh and final round. Hilton's stock plummeted when a background check at February's NFL combine revealed that he had been arrested and convicted for his role in the January 2002 strong-arm robbery of a pizza delivery driver. Hilton was given a 10-year suspended sentence and placed on three years probation, according to a story published May 8 in the Charleston Post-Courier.
The crime transpired while Hilton was spending Christmas vacation at his family's home in Charleston, S.C. Regretful over the incident, the polite rookie told The Giant Insider that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time – and with the wrong person: a now-former friend who, Hilton claims, lured him into a bad situation on the pretense of meeting up with some girls.
"This happened at a time when I was separating from some people because I was getting serious about college and football, and I guess my friend got jealous of that," Hilton said. "I haven't talked with him since then."
Grateful at the Giants' decision to select him, Hilton enjoyed an impressive mini-camp debut with a pair of sacks.
"The defensive line coach said he loved my quickness and my first step," he said. "He said I had a gift for coming off the ball."
The rookie – who has connections to the New York metro area via an aunt and nine cousins residing in Queens – hopes to become the long awaited, pass-rushing bookend Big Blue has sorely needed.
"The fans will learn that I'm a never-satisfied person," Hilton said.
"I'm always working hard to be the toughest and best player I can be – and I'm blessed by the opportunity the Giants have given me. I'm thrilled to be here."
Hilton's draft drop a crime
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