Like all rookies, cornerback Jayron Hosley was eager to please, eager to show his new coaches that he belonged with the big boys.
The year was 2012 and Hosley, who stands 5-10 and is listed at 178 lbs., was a third-round draft pick who came into camps with high expectations of not just himself but from his new bosses as well.
So he went through his indoctrination, which included having many things heaped on his plate – cornerback, nickel, punt returner, and special teams coverage.
Hosley wanted to handle it all and handle it well. He really did. But as Hosley quickly found out, sometimes we don’t get what the heart wants.
“It was a lot for me coming into my rookie season and having all of those responsibilities like nickel, and corner, and all my special teams assignments,” Hosley said. “At first it was tough because I’m over here and I felt like I was being pulled in all kinds of different directions.”
What kept him afloat was this tendency to look at the positive, and from his perspective, he figured that the coaches’ decision to put all of those assignments on him as a rookie must have meant that he was a very special player whom they were looking toward as a leader.
“As a player, that’s what you want,” he said of the information overload. “That means the coaches and your team really are counting on you so I took that as a compliment and tried to make the best of the situation.”
However, he struggled with handling all the responsibilities. It also didn’t help his case that in his rookie season, he missed four games due to various injuries, which always seemed to strike just as he was finally starting to find his groove, nor did it help that he struggled with learning the Giants’ language.
“It’s like coming into a whole new world,” he said of learning a new language. “It’s still football at the end of the day, but the terminology is completely different, and from that aspect, yeah, it was a big adjustment at first – I think it would be for anyone.
“You have to take the extra time to really study, especially when you’re not at practice, and try to catch up so you’re not left behind because you’re not ready”
So with the lessons of his rookie season behind him, Hosley has set out to make sure that in this, his second season, he’s doing everything he can to shore up any deficiencies he experienced last year so that when his number is called, the coaches need not worry.
“I spent the offseason trying to work on all aspects of my game, trying to become more focused and more consistent,” he said. “I think that sometimes in the past when I used to get a little tired, I’d get sloppy in my technique. So I try to push myself in that and take my game to the next level.
“I think I’ve grown up as a player and have been more focused in this training camp,” he added.
He’s matured so much that it doesn’t even bother him that the Giants brought back veteran Aaron Ross, who is projected to play the nickel, the role for which Hosley was initially drafted.
“You would take it personally if you were a person who didn’t have confidence in themselves or ability would look at it as a threat, but Aaron is a good player,” Hosley said. “Obviously they brought him back for a reason, and they felt like he would be a good addition to our secondary and help us do better.
“We’re a team at the end of the day, and as part of that team, I’m going to push myself to work hard, and we’re pushing each other out here. That’s how I look at it. Aaron being here makes me better, and I’ve been learning a lot from him from the nickel position as well as the corner.”
“Nothing specific, just within the coverage that we play and him pointing out some of the smaller things that helped him become a better nickel … at corner, learning better footwork and seeing how he responds, asking him questions about certain situations, and stuff like that.”
While Hosley isn’t quite sure about what his role will be on this year’s team, he does know one thing, and that is the NFL has yet to see his best.
“You’ll know when I’m at my best,” he said with a smile. “Right now I’m still working at it. I’m still green and still growing, but I guarantee you that you’ll know when I’m there.”
If it means that to get there he has to follow his veteran teammates, Hosley is all for it.
“Before you can be a leader, you have to follow,” he said. “All great leaders were once followers and right now, I’m just following as I try to grow into that leadership. I’m sitting behind the older guys and soaking up as much as I can so that when I’m the position to lead, I can do as much as they did — or even more — and become a better leader because I learned from them.”