Sha’Reef Rashad Is Impressing

Mike Garafolo has a great article on UDFA Sha’Reef Rashad:

Sha’reef Rashad had the deep half of the field in a Cover-2 defense, so any long ball was his for the taking. Rashad claimed later he didn’t even see the receiver (Otis Lewis), just the ball, so he went up and got it for the first interception of last week’s Giants rookie camp.

“I was able to make a good break on the ball and get it at its highest point,” Rashad said in between practices last Saturday. “They threw a deep ball and I was able to get over there and make a play. Just doing what I was coached, pretty much.”

Rashad (whose first name is pronounced Sha-REEF) is a rookie free agent safety out of Central Florida who was nearly a late draft pick for the Giants. Safeties coach David Merritt said the team discussed selecting Rashad, who had 14 career interceptions in college. But the Giants instead chose a pair of CBs instead in the sixth and seventh rounds in DeAndre Wright and Stoney Woodson. They felt fortunate they were able to sign Rashad to a three-year deal as a free agent.

So far, it looks like a very promising signing at a position that isn’t very deep. Though it was merely rookie camp, Rashad was impressive, as he made a few plays on the ball and also showed excellent awareness in run support.

“Coach likes to make sure we’re familiar with strong and free safety, so I was working a couple of snaps at strong,” said Rashad, who played free and strong safety for two years each at Central Florida. Later, when asked about his performance, he said, “Never satisfied, but I’m doing all right. I definitely have a lot of work to do physically and learning the defense as well. We’re learning a lot of stuff pretty quick and I’m just trying to pick it up as fast as possible.”

It’s no surprise Rashad appeared to be picking things up very quickly because he was a two-time Conference USA All-Academic Team selection and, right before the draft, was named to the 2009 class of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame’s Hampshire Honor Society.

“Coming in here the kid was known to have a high test score and he proved that and more,” Merritt said. “He was able to make all of the coverage calls and adjustments – not only make them but did it with conviction.”

Merritt said Rashad made all the right calls in the meeting room when the players watched film of practice – and not just his own calls, but also the responsibilities of the other safeties.

Travonti Johnson, a safety who played for Central Florida, signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and spent a part of last season on the Giants’ practice squad, had told Merritt what to expect from Rashad.

“Travonti Johnson spoke highly about the young man before he even came in here,” Merritt said. “He said, ‘Coach, he’s extremely bright.’ And like I said, I was excited to see that.”

Rashad, whose father was in the Navy and now serves as a minister, also brings exceptional character, according to those who know him well. He was a locker-room leader and – perhaps because of his father’s influence – was often a counselor for some of his teammates.

Knights defensive back Johnell Neal, who was shot four times in the abdomen last May and then returned to the field, credited Rashad with helping him on his way back to the field last season.

“He’s one of those people I wanted to be around as soon as possible after I got shot,” Neal told the Orlando Sentinel last October. “Even if I never got better and never played football again, I needed to be around my teammates because we’re all like brothers.”

Said Rashad, “I was there for a lot of guys if they needed me. Obviously, they were there for me as well if they needed any advice or help. I was just glad to help them out.”


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2 Responses to “Sha’Reef Rashad Is Impressing”

  1. Sunlion333 says:

    It looks like we already have our 4th Safety. I can’t wait for the preseason.

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