Former defensive back earns NFL opportunity
By: Chris Bendel – Sports Editor
If you were to walk into the Ghetto’s 231 Lowes St. during the 2013 NFL preseason, you might have found redshirt senior and UD football team captain cornerback Kyle Sebetic watching Eli Manning and the New York Giants on television in between the 2013 Dayton Flyers’ training camp .
Less than a year later Sebetic found himself closer to the action, in a much different position.
As a 2014 undrafted free-agent signee of the Giants, he now found himself roaming the sidelines and teammates with Super Bowl winning quarterback Manning and three-time pro-bowl cornerback Antrel Rolle, who he remembered watching play at the University of Miami over 10 years ago.
“The biggest thing is being with guys who I watched playing on TV when I was growing up,” Sebetic said. “I was out there on the same field with guys I’ve been watching play my whole life.”
According to Sebetic, he played mostly as a safety during his time with the Giants. He saw time in four pre-season games and also worked with the team’s special teams unit during 38 days of training camp before league rules required NFL teams to reduce their rosters to 75 players.
He was one of 11 players waived in the Giants’ roster moves triggered by the reductions in roster size Aug 26.
Sebetic was the first UD football player to play in the NFL exhibition seasons since 1980, according to UD athletics.
A two-time First Team All-Pioneer Football League cornerback, Sebetic entered the UD program in 2009, where he redshirted as a freshman. A four-year starter for the UD defense thereafter, he started 39 out of UD’s 44 games from 2010-2013.
After graduating from UD in December, the Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin native traveled to Chicago, began working out at a local training facility, and officially signed with an agent in anticipation of the wave of undrafted free-agent signings following the NFL draft which was held May 8-10.
He first worked out in front of NFL scouts during the University of Toledo’s pro day March 10, which in turn, led to a tryout with the Giants in the days immediately following the NFL draft.
Sebetic signed with the Giants June 3 and began participating in the team’s organized team activities or OTA’s until NFL training camp began July 20 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Sebetic said he didn’t internalize his role as a representative of a small program like UD in the NFL until he arrived for the first day of camp.
“It’s a pretty special feeling,” Sebetic said. “I didn’t realize how unique it was until I actually got there and I was talking to guys from Auburn and Ohio State.”
He thought to himself, I’m the only kid from UD in the whole NFL.
Sebetic and the Giants opened up the 2014 preseason with a matchup against the Washington Redskins in Canton, Ohio in the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium.
In front of 22,052 fans, Sebetic stepped onto the field for the first time late in the fourth quarter, realizing his childhood goal.
“Growing up as a kid, I always told people I wanted to play in the NFL,” Sebetic said. “My family, my friends all knew that. It was a dream I had.”
As the seconds ticked down on the Redskins play clock, Sebetic prepped himself and focused on the moment he had worked for his whole life.
“There were a lot of nerves and emotions kind of going through me but once I got out there I calmed down and just relaxed and played,” Sebetic said.
Back in Ohio, he saw glimpses of the UD faithful he had become accustomed to over the years which he said added to his special night.
“With the game being back in Ohio, I think a lot of people knew that I was going to be there so when I was warming up before the game or walking around the sideline I was constantly hearing people yelling ‘Go Dayton Flyers.”’
He quickly realized that at the professional level, the mental aspect of the game amplifies.
“Everything is way more complex than college like the schemes and the defenses. Everything you need to know is way more mental than college,” he said.
Sebetic said head coach Tom Coughlin runs the locker room with an emphasis on punctuality. All of the clocks in the Giant’s training facility are set five minutes ahead of time. It’s a concept that the players like to call “Coughlin time.”
Sebetic admits that during his college education at UD, sometimes he wasn’t running on Coughlin time when rushing to classes on campus.
Of course, that’s only one of the differences between the life of a college student and life of a professional he encountered on his journey from a home on UD’s Lowes St. to MetLife Stadium, the home of the NFL’s New York Giants.