Rutgers longshot Nova trying for 3rd QB spot with Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Gary Nova had offers to attend the rookie minicamps of the Bears, Vikings, Colts, and Dolphins, and might have had a realistic chance of making one of the teams.

Instead, the undrafted Rutgers quarterback was on the Giants' practice field Friday along with 65 other rookies and young veterans, a group that included all six draft picks.

Aside from the 15-minute proximity to his house, the Scarlet Knights' all-time leader in touchdown passes (73) saw the Giants as his best shot to land a roster spot, an odd choice since Tom Coughlin has kept only two quarterbacks in recent years. It's usually Eli Manning and a backup, with an emergency quarterback spot filling depth at another position.

Despite that, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Nova decided to take his shot close to home.

''I wanted to be here. I felt like I could compete here,'' he said. ''That's something every kid will dream about. It just seemed like a good opportunity.''

If Nova has any advantage over rookie competition that included fellow local talent Pete Thomas of Valhalla (Louisiana Monroe) and Hawaii's Taylor Graham, the son of former Giants quarterback Kent Graham, it's his experience in a pro-style offense each of his four years as a starter. He had four offensive coordinators in that span, but his last one, former NFL coach Ralph Friedgen, prepared him well for the next step.

Under Friedgen, he threw 22 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

''He started from the ground up and just taught me football,'' Nova said. ''He taught the fundamentals of the game, and then he went into his offense, what he wanted.''

Nova made an initial impression on Coughlin during a pre-draft workout.

''We like him,'' Coughlin said. ''We threw a lot at him, so we'll see how he handles it.''

Nova said his footwork needs improvement. Only then can he think about landing a contract as minicamp breaks up and heading into the full-team minicamp and training camp as part of the 90-man roster.

Until that happens, he'll just concentrate on improving.

''I don't have a job yet,'' he said.

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NOTES: Third-round DE Owa Odighizuwa became the third pick to sign his contract, following fifth-round S Mykkele Thompson and seventh-round T Bobby Hart the day before. ... Among the unsigned tryout hopefuls were two links to the Giants past, Graham and WR Andrew Robustelli. Robustelli, of the University of Jacksonville, is the grandson of Hall-of-Fame DE Andy Robustelli. Coughlin said the rookies probably had no idea who Robustelli was, but they were quickly educated Thursday night when the defensive staff presented a film that included great pass rusher and punt blocker of the 1950s. ''The Giant tradition, the great defensive players who played here in the past. We've got to get back to that,'' Coughlin said. ... Ten tryout players from Canada dotted the minicamp roster along with signed CFL free agent center Brett Jones of the Calgary Stampeders, an all-time high for the Giants.

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