It’s impossible to know when an undrafted free agent will transition from obscurity to the spotlight.

No one batted an eye when the Giants gave a middling college quarterback $20,000 guaranteed as an undrafted free agent last year. But by the middle of the season, Tommy DeVito had become a sensation as he led the Giants on a three-game winning streak.

Is the next DeVito in the Giants’ undrafted free-agent class this year? It’s too soon to say, but here’s a closer look at the players hoping to become the next undrafted success story:


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Kicker Jude McAtamney has a better chance to make the Giants practice squad this season than you might think. (Vincent Carchietta / USA Today)

Jude McAtamney, K, Rutgers

McAtamney might have the thinnest college football resume of any of the Giants undrafted free agents. But he has a stronger chance than most to earn a spot on the Giants’ practice squad this season.

That’s because of a new NFL rule that grants each team an exemption to carry an international player on its practice squad. The Giants could carry McAtamney, who is from Northern Ireland, as the 17th member of their practice squad this season.

“It’s just an extra security blanket,” McAtamney said. “If you prove you’re going in the right direction, I think it’s something that definitely works in my favor.”

McAtamney has defied the odds to be in this position. As he prepared for Rutgers’ pro day in March, he wondered if he was wasting his time. McAtamney had only attempted one field goal during the 2023 season — a missed 53-yarder — so he wasn’t on the radar of NFL teams.



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But McAtamney believed he was capable of kicking in the NFL, even if he lost a competition at Rutgers with sophomore Jai Patel in the spring of 2023.

“I was going through a bit of a swing change at that time. Maybe it wasn’t the best time to do it looking back,” McAtamney said with a wry laugh.

Patel maintained the kicking job throughout the season, so McAtamney was relegated to using his strong leg to handle kickoffs. But he got into a groove with the swing change, which gave him confidence that he would perform when he got an opportunity.

That came at Rutgers’ pro day, which drew representatives from 30 NFL teams thanks partly to the presence of cornerback Max Melton, who was a second-round pick by the Cardinals.

“I had no workouts before that,” McAtamney said. “So I was going in there like whatever I want to showcase, this is it. If you don’t do good here, it’s not going to work out.”

With most scouts sticking around until the end of Rutgers’ pro day to watch McAtamney kick, he connected on 17-of-20 field goals. That performance was enough to earn invitations to the pro days hosted by the Giants and Jets for local prospects.

McAtamney was joined by two other kickers at the Giants’ local pro day — Penn State’s Alex Felkins and Tulane’s Valentino Ambrosio. Each kicker attempted eight field goals that got progressively deeper, starting at 20 yards and maxing out at 57 yards. Then there were two mid-range kicks in a simulated end-of-game scenario. McAtamney went 10-for-10.

“That whole day went really well,” McAtamney said. “I didn’t feel like I was put under any pressure. I was just able to showcase what I could do.”

Even with the strong showing, McAtamney knew he wouldn’t hear his name called during the draft. There were only three kickers drafted — all in the sixth round — and they all had far more experience than McAtamney.

“There were three possibilities: I was going to get nothing, which I was fully prepared for, or I was going to get invited to a rookie minicamp or get signed,” McAtamney said. “Luckily, I got the best of the three options.”

McAtamney pocketed a modest $2,500 signing bonus from the Giants, but his international status has him in position to earn a $225,000 practice squad salary. Having an extra kicker makes sense for the Giants, as Graham Gano is recovering from knee surgery. The Giants surely will want to limit the 37-year-old Gano’s workload during practices.

McAtamney, who turned 24 on Thursday, is just four years removed from being a Gaelic football player. His path changed after Irish punter David Shanahan committed to Georgia Tech in 2020.

McAtamney had been intrigued by place-kicking, so he sent Shanahan a message on Instagram. Shanahan directed McAtamney to Prokick Australia, a program that trains kickers and punters.

McAtamney couldn’t fly to Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, so he sent videos of himself kicking through Gaelic football goalposts to the trainers at Prokick Australia. They saw enough to recommend him to the coaches at Chowan, a Division II school in Murfreesboro, North Carolina.

McAtamney made 6-of-10 field goals and all 47 extra-point attempts at Chowan in 2021. He traveled to Australia after the season to train for a month, which helped earn him a scholarship from Rutgers. McAtamney made 12-of-18 field goals and 23-of-24 extra-point attempts during the 2022 season at Rutgers.

The most important kicks McAtamney made to date were the 30 he attempted at Rutgers’ pro day and the Giants’ local pro day. Those put him in a position that was unfathomable before he reached out to Shanahan four years ago.

“I never had a chance to prove it. I knew I could prove it,” McAtamney said. “So I think that was something that kept me going. I knew that I had a strong enough leg that if I was consistent enough it was something teams would be interested in. Luckily enough, it worked out that way.”

Casey Rogers delivered a 35-inch vertical jump at Oregon’s pro day. That would have been the highest among defensive linemen at the combine. (Michael C. Johnson / USA Today)

Undrafted free agency wasn’t the first time Rogers was recruited by Giants coach Brian Daboll. When Daboll was Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2017, Rogers was a coveted tight end at Westhill High in Syracuse, N.Y.

“(Daboll is) from the Buffalo area, so we have some connections through family friends,” Rogers said. “At that point in my recruiting process, it was kind of before I blew up. I was just looking for an opportunity anywhere.”

Rogers attended a three-day camp at Alabama, playing tight end and a variety of positions on defense. But he eventually committed to Nebraska, while Daboll left Alabama after one year to become the Bills’ offensive coordinator.

They reconnected when the Giants were recruiting Rogers as an undrafted free agent, securing the 6-foot-4, 294-pounder’s services with $220,000 guaranteed.

“I got a call from one of their scouts who handed the phone off to Coach Daboll. That was cool to talk to him again,” Rogers said. “He was like, ‘You already know who I am and how I roll.’”

Rogers had another interesting coaching connection during his recruiting process. He initially committed to Syracuse to play lacrosse. His father, Lelan, was the defensive coordinator for the storied program at the time. But as Rogers generated more football interest during his senior year, he had a change of heart.

“It was just at dinner one night,” Rogers said. “I was like, ‘Dad, I think I want to play football.’ He was like, ‘Let’s do it. You’ve got to chase that dream.’”

Rogers spent a post-grad year at Avon Old Farms (Conn.) School, where he played football, lacrosse, hockey and wrestling.

“My whole life has been sports, especially with my dad as a coach,” Rogers said. “Sports, sports, sports is how I grew up.”

Rogers saw limited action in his first two seasons at Nebraska. He made strides during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and was poised for a breakout in 2021, but a knee injury sidelined him for the first five games.

With Nebraska coach Scott Frost on the hot seat and his degree in hand, Rogers decided to follow defensive line coach Tony Tuioti to Oregon. Rogers had two solid seasons at Oregon, but that wasn’t enough to earn an invite to the scouting combine.

Though disappointed, Rogers vowed to make the most of his opportunity in front of NFL scouts at Oregon’s pro day. Rogers’ 35-inch vertical jump would have been the highest among defensive linemen at the combine, while his 4.84-second 40-yard dash and 9-foot-8-inch broad jump would have been second only to Rams second-round pick Braden Fiske.

“What happened was with my pro day going so well and being a little bit of a late bloomer as a draft prospect, a lot of teams really hit me up the last couple of weeks,” Rogers said. “I was able to check all the boxes when I did that, just so they would take a harder look at me and consider me for their program.”

Rogers, who turns 26 in December, silenced one of the pre-draft doubts with his pro-day performance.

“They didn’t really know what to expect, but obviously my numbers didn’t lie,” Rogers said. “I ran a lot faster and jumped a lot higher and benched a lot more than kids who are younger than me.”

Rogers played lacrosse while training for the draft in Denver, and he’s open to playing the sport professionally if an opportunity is presented after his football career. That’s part of the competitive makeup that undoubtedly is at the root of his bond with Daboll.

“I’m a freak when it comes to competing,” Rogers said. “I just want to compete all the time. Any time I get an opportunity, I usually don’t turn it down. I keep a lacrosse stick and basketball and all that stuff in my car in case a game breaks out. I’m ready to go.”

Marcellus Johnson’s Missouri career didn’t go as planned, but he has no regrets about transferring there. (Scott Winters / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

When Johnson entered the transfer portal after the 2022 season, he figured he’d get a phone call or two from an interested school. He greatly underestimated the transfer portal experience and the interest in a 6-foot-4, 313-pounder who excelled at left tackle for Eastern Michigan.

“The moment my name got in the portal, I think the first team that called me was South Carolina,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ I thought I’d get a call here and maybe a call the next day. From that point on, I was on the phone from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.”

The barrage of calls and texts lasted a week, with Johnson drawing interest from Ohio State, Tennessee, UCLA, North Carolina, Cal and others. With that interest came NIL offers in the mid-six figures.

Missouri’s offer was less than half of his most lucrative NIL package, but Johnson felt a bond with offensive line coach Marcus Johnson, so he committed to the Tigers.

“You can’t just go with the money,” Johnson said. “I trusted the O-line coach at Mizzou so I said, ‘I’m going here.’”

Marcus Johnson left Missouri to become Purdue’s offensive line coach at the end of spring practice, which Marcellus Johnson knew was a bad sign.

“I’m sitting there, like, what are the odds that he leaves,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘This sucks.’”

Johnson had been starting at right tackle during the spring, but he was demoted to the second team when the coaching staff switched the lineup during training camp. Johnson was injected into the lineup for the third game of the season at right guard, which he had never played.

Just before halftime of his first start, Johnson’s leg got rolled up on, and he suffered a high-ankle sprain. Johnson was sidelined for two weeks and never regained a starting spot as Missouri rolled to an 11-2 finish.

Johnson, 24, has no regrets about transferring to Missouri despite only making one start during his final year of eligibility.

“I just loved my teammates. The O-line room there was very special,” Johnson said. “It’s awesome playing at the highest level possible. It was fun being there. Very historic season. Just an unfortunate situation.”

Johnson, whose older brother Eric is a defensive tackle for the Colts, took advantage of the opportunity to impress NFL personnel at Missouri’s pro day. When scouts recognized his athleticism, they were forced to go back to watch his Eastern Michigan film.

There was significant interest in Johnson as an undrafted free agent. The Giants landed him by giving him $170,000 guaranteed. Two teams made bigger offers after Johnson had verbally committed to the Giants, but he didn’t consider backing out of the deal.

“Once everything was closed and done, stick with the guys you trust,” Johnson said. “Stick with where you’re wanted.”

John Jiles tallied 66 catches, 1,255 yards and 16 touchdowns in his lone season at West Florida. (John Blackie / USA Today)

Jiles never lost faith in his NFL dream despite stints at a junior college, two Division II programs and the Canadian Football League.

“It definitely felt like it was getting away from me sometimes, but I never felt like it was a long shot that I can’t do,” Jiles said.

That faith certainly was tested by a winding path from Wake Forest (N.C.) High to the Giants. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Jiles committed to Marshall out of high school, but that wasn’t his dream school.

“Pretty much my whole high school went to (North Carolina), and that was low-key where I wanted to go,” Jiles said. “Then a community college hit me up, sold me a dream, told me I could go there and they could get me wherever I wanted to go, because I really wanted to go to UNC.”

So Jiles took a detour to Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College for two years. He produced on the field and was ready to transfer to North Carolina or another major program. But he was told he would need to stay at Fort Scott for another semester because some of his classes wouldn’t transfer.

“At that time, I was ready to play right now,” Jiles said. “I was young. I really should have just stayed.”

Jiles’ eagerness to play led him outside of the United States. An assistant at Fort Scott had connections in the CFL, and the BC Lions offered Jiles a contract in January of 2020. But then COVID-19 hit and the league canceled the season.

“That’s when I opted out of the contract,” Jiles said. “My high school coach knew this coach at Virginia Union real well, and he wrote up a whole appeal — a letter to the NCAA appealing because I hadn’t signed with an agent at the time. I just signed a contract. But it got appealed and I ended up at Virginia Union in 2021.”

Jiles, 23, had left school to train for the CFL, so he had to catch up on credits when he got to Division II Virginia Union. He wasn’t able to play during the 2021 season.

“It was actually a surreal moment,” Jiles said. “I was really focusing on myself, like locking in and a lot of self-reflecting. Everything was hitting me. It was a good time for me even though it was in a bad moment because I wasn’t playing football.”

Jiles had 40 catches for 627 yards and nine touchdowns in 2022 before transferring to another Division II program, West Florida. He exploded for 66 catches, 1,255 yards and 16 touchdowns in his lone season at West Florida.

“I messed up early in high school not locking in, not taking care of school. So I really leaned on myself and wanted to make sure I was doing everything right,” Jiles said. “I just felt like this time I had to do what I knew I had to do.”

Jiles, who got $100,000 guaranteed from the Giants, is confident he’ll make the most of the opportunity he was always convinced would come.

“I say this in the most humble way, but I felt like I always had a shot just because I knew once I get the opportunity, I was going to ball out,” Jiles said. “I feel like the journey is just now starting. This is what I’ve been dreaming about all my life. Now I’m here and now it’s time to get to it.”

Ayir Asante draws inspiration from Tommy DeVito, a fellow New Jersey native and undrafted free agent who made a big splash in the NFL. (Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today)

Let’s establish this now: If Asante makes the Giants’ roster, he plans to live with his parents in their Franklin Township, N.J., home.

“I think it’s the smart thing to do,” Asante said. “Rent is pretty expensive.”

DeVito’s living arrangements fed into the phenomenon about the Cedar Grove native, whose mother did his laundry and cooked chicken cutlets as her son started games on national television. But for Asante, who competed against DeVito in high school at rival Catholic powerhouses, the quarterback’s rookie success serves as an inspiration.

“It’s encouraging to see what can come of this,” Asante said. “You saw it just last year with Tommy being able to make the team and carve out a spot and go out there and win games for the Giants.”

Asante will have a 30-minute drive to the Giants’ facility. That’s a much shorter commute than when he attended St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City.

Every day, Asante would take an express NJ Transit train to Newark Penn Station at 6:17 a.m., followed by a PATH train to the Grove Street Station in Jersey City and a short walk to St. Peter’s. The trip took a little more than an hour door-to-door. With practice, weight-lifting, film study and treatment after school, Asante typically didn’t return home until 10 p.m. most days during the football season.

“My senior year, sometimes I really wouldn’t see my parents Monday through Friday,” Asante said. “Then I would see them after the game at the tailgate just because of how our scheduling was.”

It was a demanding schedule that Asante credits with preparing him for the future.

“They’re football factories, and we take it seriously,” Asante said. “It was just like college. It prepares you for college, it prepares you for the next level at that young age.”

Asante continued his football and education at another Jesuit school, Holy Cross (Mass.). In Asante’s four years at Holy Cross, the program won four straight conference titles, recorded its first-ever FCS playoff win and delivered an undefeated season in 2022. Asante was a three-time second-team All-Patriot League selection.

Holy Cross doesn’t offer graduate programs, so if Asante wanted -to return for a fifth season he would have needed to delay his undergraduate degree a semester. He felt he had accomplished everything he wanted at Holy Cross, so he graduated on time and entered the transfer portal.

“I had a bunch of yards and film behind me, and I felt like I would have a good shot to be able to find somewhere I could get some different experiences and maybe help myself with the draft process,” Asante said.

Asante, 23, found the opportunity he was seeking 2,000 miles away at the University of Wyoming. He called the experience a “complete 180,” from tapping into his nature side and playing a road game in front of 101,000 fans at Texas. The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder had 21 catches for 372 yards and six touchdowns as the Cowboys went 9-4.

“It was just a great opportunity overall,” Asante said.

Asante maximized his exposure during the pre-draft process, participating in local pro days with the Giants, Jets and Broncos (local to Wyoming) during a three-day stretch in April.

“It was taxing, but it was a lot of fun,” Asante said. “I thought it was important to get in those buildings and just see what those coaching staffs were like.”

Asante connected with Giants scout Blaise Bell, who played wide receiver at Holy Cross from 2015-18. The Giants showed the most interest in Asante, who got $4,000 guaranteed, throughout the pre-draft process. That combined with the proximity to home led him to sign with the team.

“It was the love I was getting mixed with the opportunity to stay home,” Asante said. “I would say 75 percent of all my friends in New Jersey are Giants fans, so it just added to the excitement for everyone seeing me get signed to the Giants.”

Alex Johnson nearly quit football, but his decision to come back to UCLA for one more season paid off. (Kiyoshi Mio / USA Today)

Johnson was ready to walk away from football a year ago. It wasn’t that he had a bad experience in his time at UCLA. But after spending five years with the program as a walk-on reserve cornerback and special teamer, he wasn’t interested in another season under the same conditions.

“I honestly wasn’t even going to come back,” Johnson said. “They were like, ‘We’d love for you to come back and be a featured guy.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll come back, but I’m not going to pay for my own school.’ So they put me on scholarship and I started the last year.”

The decision couldn’t have turned out better for both sides. Johnson led the Pac-12 with five interceptions after becoming the Bruins’ starting slot corner.

“It was kind of surreal,” Johnson said. “I had nothing to lose. I’m just going to go out here and show what I can do, and I did.”’

Johnson had mostly been a safety in his first five years at UCLA, but the team needed someone to play in the slot last season. New defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn saw Johnson’s potential and gave him the opportunity he had been seeking.

“There weren’t really high expectations for me just because I wasn’t really recruited by UCLA,” Johnson said. “I was getting faster and I was getting stronger, but the coaches didn’t really see a place for me in the defensive secondary. They would bring in transfers and they would bring in new recruits and they would automatically get the bump over me.”

Johnson, who turns 24 in October, is trying to build on his late college success. He weighed around 172 pounds at UCLA because he never focused on gaining weight.

“I just think that the combination of being in school and doing these meetings constantly was a lot for me,” Johnson said. “Honestly, I was never a weight-room guy at UCLA. So I just never built up the appetite to hit the weight room and put on the muscle and go eat right after and get a protein shake and take care of my body.”

Johnson’s body fat measured at one percent when he started training for the draft.

“The guy was like, ‘This machine is broken,’” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘I’ve done these before, and it’s said that.’”

With Johnson dedicated to gaining weight, he’s now up to 188 pounds and six percent body fat. The extra mass will be needed to play the slot in the NFL.

“It’s definitely a big jump for me, but I still feel pretty smooth and fluid,” Johnson said. “I feel a lot better playing football.”

Johnson, who got $115,000 guaranteed from the Giants, understands he’ll have to work his way up again now that he’s starting over in the NFL.

“(Giants defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson) talked about what my day-to-day would look like,” Johnson said. “I would have to be a scout team and a premier guy on special teams. I said the beauty and the irony of that is that’s what I did my whole career at UCLA.”

Jake Kubas signed with the Giants for $270,000, which is the third biggest reported guarantee for an undrafted free agent this year. (Justin Tafoya / NCAA photo via Getty Images)

Jake Kubas, OG, North Dakota State

Kubas nearly recoiled at the suggestion. In an era when college players transfer regularly, Kubas never considered leaving North Dakota State.

“Absolutely not,” Kubas said.

Kubas grew up in Dickinson, North Dakota, which is about 300 miles west of NDSU’s Fargo campus. There was no other college on his list of options.

“My dad played here in the early 90s, my brother was two years older than me and played here,” Kubas said. “At the end of the day, it was NDSU or nothing. This place has kind of been my whole upbringing. I feel like this program has kind of raised me in a sense through my dad, and even just my time here the last six years has turned me into the man I am today.”

Kubas had to pay his dues at his dream school. He enrolled in 2018 as a walk-on and maintained that status until 2021 when he was put on a 50- percent scholarship after becoming the starting right guard. The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder was put on full scholarship for his final two seasons.

As a multi-year starter at an FCS school, Kubas likely would have had suitors if he entered the transfer portal before last season. He’ll never know.

“This place was the only Division I program to give me an opportunity,” Kubas said. “I wasn’t ever going to turn my back on them. It never crossed my mind.”

There wasn’t a need to transfer since North Dakota State has developed an NFL pipeline for offensive linemen. An NDSU offensive lineman had been selected in three straight drafts, including Cody Mauch (2023) and Dillon Radunz (2021) in the second round.

“Our program does a great job of not only just developing guys physically, mentally. I think the program does a really good job of establishing great routines in guys, championship habits,” Kubas said. “Things like taking time in the training room taking care of your body, things like getting in the weight room, getting a stretch, getting a light lift in just to maintain stuff, eating right, sleeping right, your film study. This place doesn’t allow you to leave any stone unturned.”

North Dakota State’s run of NFL prospects has made its pro day a must-stop event for scouts — even in a blizzard. That was the case this year, as Giants assistant offensive line coach James Ferentz braved the conditions to conduct the O-line position drills.

The Giants invested significant time with Kubas, as they were one of three teams to host him on a pre-draft visit. The Giants’ interest in Kubas, 23, was demonstrated by guaranteeing him $270,000, which is the third biggest reported guarantee for an undrafted free agent this year.

After being a member of three national championship teams at North Dakota State, Kubas is prepared for the step up to the NFL.

“I want the stakes the highest,” Kubas said. “I want the pressure to be at max for a game. Those are the conditions I like to operate in.”

The Giants also signed LSU edge rusher Ovie Oghoufo, but he wasn’t available for an interview.

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Photos of Johnson, Rogers and Asante: Jason Parkurst, Mark J. Rebilas and Troy Babbitt / USA Today)