The New York Giants did their homework before secreting Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz with the 57th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.
A bit older (24) than most draftees due to a redshirt freshman season and an additional eligibility exemption due to COVID-19, Schmitz comes to the Giants as a ‘turnkey,’ game-ready player.
Schmitz’s college coach, P.J. Fleck, recently told the folks on the Giants Huddle Podcast that JMS was a ‘row the boat’ guy, loves his passion and the feeling is mutual as Schmitz followed Fleck from Western Michigan to Minnesota.
“Well, first of all, he fit everything — what the ‘row the boat’ culture is about, what we’re about within our walls, whether that’s at Western Michigan or Minnesota,” Fleck said in reference to his ‘never-give-up’ mantra.
“It’s all about the people, and it’s all about fit. I think the best NFL teams have the best cultures and have the best fit and connectivity, and that’s what we’re all about. It was really easy to tell John Michael Schmitz was going to fit our program. He was tough, a south side of Chicago kid. If you’ve ever met his mother, you would know exactly what I’m talking about. She’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met.”
Schmitz’s mother, Debbie, accompanied him to East Rutherford after the draft to meet the Giants, most specifically head coach Brian Daboll and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson.
“I walked out of there and I’m like, ‘This is a perfect fit,’” Debbie said after meeting Daboll and Johnson. “This couldn’t have worked out any better for John Michael because they remind me of my son. . . It was meant to be.”
The Giants hope so, too. And they hope he’s as mean and nasty as Fleck suggests.
“He’s one of the greatest people off the field, one of the best connectors of a locker room that you’ll ever meet,” Fleck said. “However, when he’s on that football field, he is a nasty, nasty human being. That’s what you want because you’re creating that identity of what you’re going to become as a program, especially when you’re in the Big Ten, and especially when you’re in the north and in the Mid-American Conference. You’ve got to be able to impose your will, and we believe strongly in that.”