Corey Ballentine's journey to the NFL was a rollercoaster from the start, but lately it has been nothing but up.
Ballentine has been straight balling in training camp and in preseason games. The cornerback out was showing great coverage skills in camp and recorded a few interceptions as well to impress his coaches early on. Then, he came out in his first preseason game against the Jets, and leaped high on a jump ball to secure one as well.
And after continued success in practice and Week 2 of the preseason, Ballentine saw his first start against the Bengals and he made the best of it with seven combined tackles and two passes defended.
Coming out of Division II Washburn -- the first player to be drafted in the college's history -- many believed there would be a big learning curve for Ballentine. But head coach Pat Shurmur has never put that over Ballentine's head, as he knew what kind of player he was getting.
"There are certain positions where you can bring in a guy from a small school," Shurmur said after practice Tuesday. "They have the traits that you're looking for. He's a very mature young man. He's very smart. He gets it. He understands the game and he works very hard. I think you draft the players with the idea that they're all going to be successful, and be successful quickly, understanding that it's going to take all of them a little bit of time. We're pleased with the progress he's making, for sure."
Ballentine is just one more preseason game against the Patriots away from solidifying his spot on the 53-man roster. And just to think that his dream of making it in the NFL in his rookie season wasn't even the main thought on his mind after he was drafted back in April.
Giants fans are well aware now of the hardship Ballentine faced when he and his best friend at Washburn in Dwane Simmons were both shot leaving a party on campus in Topeka, KS. Simmons' wound was unfortunately fatal, while Ballentine made a full recovery in the hospital.
Since that incident, Shumur has seen Ballentine come to work everyday, and has admired how he's gone about the whole situation.
"I think anytime we have adversity in our life, it becomes part of us," Shurmur said. "You hate to see somebody go through that, but the way he's handled it emotionally, mentally, his conversations (around) the building, asking for people to help him… He displayed to us that he's a very smart, very mature young man. He's got a great, really a high degree of toughness to him."
That adversity to go along with wanting to prove people wrong about small school draftees has led Ballentine to today: an expected member of the Giants' cornerbacks room for the 2019-2020 NFL season.
He has one final step on Thursday, and if he performs the way he has all summer long, there is no doubt No. 25 will be on the Giants sideline in Dallas come Week 1.