Delaware's Gary Brightwell gets drafted by Giants, describes how he'll help star RB Saquon Barkley
Gary Brightwell had said it was always his dream to get drafted into the NFL.
And the St. Georges star will get to do it somewhat close to home as he was selected in the sixth round, 196th overall, by the New York Giants on Saturday after leaving the University of Arizona following his junior season.
"This moment is special for me," Brightwell told reporters who cover the Giants. "My family grew up as Giants fans, so I mean this is everything I dreamed of."
Brightwell then said his mother, Carla Young Brightwell, is an Eagles fan, but no doubt will root for the Giants when the two teams play twice a year. Brightwell was in Orlando watching the draft with several family members.
Brightwell is the first running back from Delaware drafted into the NFL since the Eagles picked Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round in 2016. Smallwood spent last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But he knows he'll have to work his way up the depth chart with Saquon Barkley as the main running back. Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, is expected to be healthy for the start of the season after missing most of last season with a torn ACL.
The Giants also added veteran Devontae Booker in free agency.
"I get to play behind a guy who’s very competitive," Brightwell said about Barkley. "I’m going to make him work, and for sure, he’s going to make me work. But I just can’t wait to see how he approaches the day because I know some guys have different ways. And he can help me a lot."
This will be nothing new for Brightwell, who has had to work his way up the depth chart both at St. Georges and at Arizona. At St. Georges, Brightwell rushed for 1,309 yards as a junior as the Hawks reached the DIAA state championship game in Division II.
Brightwell then went to St. Frances Academy in Baltimore for his senior year, then Arizona. Brightwell, getting his first chance to start as a junior last season, rushed for 409 yards in five games.
Brightwell said he'll do that by working hard, doing everything the coaches ask. That includes playing special teams, a rite of passage for late-round draft picks.
"I’m excited to bring some special teams to the field," Brightwell said. "I’m going to bring a lot of explosive plays. But my priority right now is getting the playbook, getting on special teams and dominating.
"I feel like special teams starts the game and also finishes it. Special teams has all the hidden yards. I mean, you need special teams to dominate."
That was something that stood out to Giants head coach Joe Judge as well.
"He's a guy that definitely jumped out," Judge said Saturday night.
Judge described a film-watching session at 5:30 a.m. a few weeks ago with Giants scouts, where they watched Brightwell on special teams at Arizona.
"This dude was flying down the field," Judge said. "It was early enough that it woke you up and you really got excited about watching him.
"You start watching a lot more of his offense, and start talking with our scouts who have done a lot of research on him ... as far as the running back value. Look, he's a guy that jumps out from his skill set. You are always looking for good versatility and depth at those positions – running back and the kicking game."
Brightwell, for his part, can't wait to get started.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.