From ‘The U’ to Big Blue

Linebacker Jon Beason and safety Antrel Rolle have a lot in common.

Both are leaders on a resurgent Giant defense, which has climbed from the twenty third-ranked fantasy defense in Week 5 to No. 9 in Week 12. Both have appeared in multiple Pro Bowls, Beason three times and Rolle twice. And both are former first-round draft picks from the University of Miami.

The two were teammates from 2003-2004 and grew close sharing time on the Hurricane defense.

“Antrel might not even remember this,” Beason said. “Antrel hosted me on my visit to Miami. When I came into Miami I was actually an athlete, I was brought in as an athlete. Antrel was like my big brother at ‘The U’ for the first two years I was there. I was a safety and he was a DB. He was just one of those guys that reached out to me. I was No. 2 and he was No. 6 so our lockers were close.”

Rolle, an All-American who was regarded as one of the nation’s top defensive backs, was picked No. 8 overall by the Cardinals in the 2005 draft after Beason’s freshman season. But even after he left, the two remained close.

“Even throughout my college and pro career we’ve stayed tighter than most guys,” Beason said.

Beason, who had 95 tackles and four sacks as a Hurricane, joined the Miami first-round club when the Panthers selected him No. 25 overall in the 2007 draft.
Rolle was released by the Cardinals in 2010 and signed by the Giants shortly after. In 2011 he led the team in tackles (96) and guided it to its second Super Bowl victory in five seasons. Beason earned Pro Bowl honors in three of his six seasons as a Panther but on Oct. 4, he was dealt to New York for a seventh-round draft pick.

Rolle, of course, was one of the first to know.

“We talked earlier in the process,” Beason said, “he was one of the first guys that I wanted to talk to. I said, ‘I’m coming up there and hopefully we can get this thing right.’

“He was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ We played together for a long time at Miami and we know each other well. We train in the offseason and it just seemed like a perfect fit.”

When Beason arrived, the Giants stood at 0-4. The team dropped its next two games to Philadelphia and Chicago and fell to 0-6.

But midway through the Chicago game, things began to click. The team held Chicago’s offense out of the end zone in the second half and wouldn’t give up an offensive touchdown for the next nine quarters, leading the team on a four-game win streak.

“Beason, the guy has been phenomenal for this team,” Rolle said. He is something that we needed. He is a voice from the linebacker position, the middle linebacker position. We needed someone that was going to stand his ground, we needed someone who was going to get everyone lined up real snappy, no BS-ing around. Just his play-making ability, his passion for the game is tremendous and I think he’s just beginning now. It’s only the beginning.”

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