Nick Giorgio was at his house on King Street when he got the call.
He was in the middle of getting ready to go out and play basketball with some of his friends Wednesday afternoon. The previous day, his agent, Paul Sheehy of the Pro Star Sports Agency, told him that the New Orleans Saints were showing a lot of interest in him, but nothing was guaranteed.
The NFL Draft in April came, but Giorgio’s name wasn’t called and he wasn’t picked up as a free agent immediately following the draft. With a lot of the league’s minicamps starting in the next few days, it was coming down to the wire.
Then his phone rang. It was Sheehy.
The Saints invited him to attend their minicamp.
“We were pretty amped up,” said Giorgio in a phone interview on Wednesday.
What a tremendous opportunity for Nick now go EARN IT. That is all he has done on and off the field since the day he stepped foot onto @SpfldCollege. Thank you @ProStarSports for believing in Nick and helping him take the next step in this journey. #WhySC @SCfootball_ https://t.co/4pOX7aPQvQ
— Mike Cerasuolo (@Mike_Cerasuolo) May 7, 2019
With the invitation, he becomes the first Springfield College football player to earn a try out for a NFL team since Fran Papasedero ’91, who was in camp with the New York Jets in 1994.
At the conclusion of his collegiate career, Giorgio received numerous national honors in recognition of his tremendous senior season. An AFCA and AP First Team All-America selection, Giorgio was one of 13 semifinalists for the Gagliardi National Player of the Year Trophy, and was named both the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston’s Division II/III New England Defensive Player of the Year and the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Defensive Athlete of the Year. He also received the most votes among Division III student-athletes for the Cliff Harris Award, which is presented to the nation’s top small college defensive player representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.
He and his representation communicated with “literally every team in the league” during the evaluation process, according to Sheehy. The Saints were the first team to pull the trigger.
The senior defensive end started his college career with two goals: crack the Pride’s starting lineup and become an All-American by the time he was a senior. He achieved both, but the possibility of playing beyond college, let alone the NFL, wasn’t something that was on his radar until recently.
After his senior season, he started to hear from people around him that he had the ability to continue playing after college. Giorgio spoke to Pride head coach Mike Cerasuolo about the possibility. Cerasuolo got him in touch with Sheehy and Warren Schmidt — two Springfield grads who are Presidents of the Pro Star Sports Agency.
“He is arguably one of the best players to ever play at Springfield — on either side of the ball or special teams,” said Cerasuolo on Giorgio. “I’ve said to other people that he is unequivocally one of the hardest working players we have ever had in this program. There is correlation between everything; from his work ethic to his mindset — mental toughness. Every characteristic you can want in a football player and in a Springfield College guy, he definitely embodies it…I am proud of him and really excited for him. To get that type of call at this level is unbelievable.”
Giorgio worked out for 12 NFL franchises at Harvard’s Pro Day on March 20. He understood during the evaluation process that his value to teams is in his ability to not only rush the passer, but work in space as an outside linebacker, too. With this in mind, he worked through linebacker drills and polished his movement out of a two-point stance while training.
“Towards the end of last season I was standing up a lot more rushing the passer,” said Giorgio. “I played linebacker in high school, so I’m not too new to standing up and making reads in space, but it’s definitely a game-changer.”
There have been times in the last few weeks when Giorgio got down on himself, especially after the NFL Draft — thinking about what we could have done better and why he wasn’t selected. But once he got the call from Feehy, a weight was lifted off his shoulders. Now, he is 100 percent focused on competing down in New Orleans this weekend.
“It has been stressful,” said Giorgio. “But I am so glad it has worked out. Now I can fully focus.”