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Will Hernandez is willing to be the league’s biggest, and nastiest, kicker

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The big guard will play wherever the Giants ask and is already acting like Barkley’s blocker

NFL: New York Giants-Rookie Minicamp Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody expected that the New York Giants would draft Will Hernandez out of UTEP. Not because of the school or any deficiency with the player, but because nobody thought he would be available when the Giants picked in the second round.

When the Giants’ pick came around at 34th overall, it took all of 20 seconds for the Giants to make their pick.

First round selection Saquon Barkley said that it was “amazing” to be a Giant. That is a sentiment the Giants’ second round pick immediately echoed to the New York media, saying, “It definitely hit me as soon as I landed in New York. Right away the city took me by surprise and how cool it is around here, how nice everybody is. As soon as I got into the actual facilities and I got people telling me where to go and what to do and it’s like, ‘Alright I’m back. It’s football time again.’ I’m definitely excited.”

Hernandez and Barkley apparently met at the NFL Scouting combine, and the two are already establishing a rapport.

“No,” Hernandez said when asked if this was the first time he met the Giants’ first round pick, “the first time I met him [Barkley] was at the Combine actually and I saw him again here. We recognized each other right away and he has already reached out to me before I even landed in New York, so that was pretty cool.”

Hernandez is already paving the way for Barkley, saying, “Yeah you see I just try to tell him to follow me wherever I go. I’ll wait for him to get his food and then he’ll walk behind me. Yeah, I’m trying to get used to it.

He would have to talk to you [a reporter] behind me. Yeah, just walk across.”

One of the biggest questions regarding Hernandez is where he will play once the offensive line is set. Head coach Pat Shurmur has said that he will start on the left side, but all of the Giants’ guards will be able to play both sides.

“Way beyond this camp certainly as we go throughout the rest of our training,” Shurmur said, “but he’s played a lot of snaps at left guard and we’ll look at him there primarily, but anybody working and guards have to play on both sides, especially young ones. That’s part of a guard learning it the right way; he’s going to have to take reps on both sides.”

Switching sides isn’t regarded as an easy thing to do, but Shurmur believes that Hernandez will be able to do it.

“You go from the left side to the right side, so it’s like going from here to here. That’s where the center is. (If you are on the right) if you’re going right, you’re on the front side; if you’re going (left), you’re on the backside. I’m trying to minimize it.”

“It’s different than that [changing which hand you write with],” he added. “I challenge all of you to switch hands right now. I think it’s different than writing certainly. Guys have played both sides and get used to being where they’ll be, so they’ll get it.”

As far as Hernandez is concerned, he says that he will play wherever the team needs him most — even if it means falling back on his soccer background.

“No preference,” he said. “I’ll play wherever the coaches want me to play. I’m here to help out the team in any way. If they want to put me at kicker, I’ll kick the ball – I did play soccer a little bit so I can help there (laughs). But no, wherever the coaches want me, that’s where I’ll be.”

Of course, whether he is a guard or (less likely) a kicker, Hernandez is known for his nasty play demeanor. When he was selected by the Giants, Mike Mayock said that he plays like he “doesn’t like people.” As far as Hernandez is concerned, that’s the way the game is supposed to be played.

“Yeah of course [he considers himself a nasty player]. I think every player should be referred to as that. If you’re a football player you should be referred to a nasty, on the edge player. I think that’s how everyone should play. I think that’s the reason why this sport is so popular and yeah, I definitely consider myself that and I think that everybody should be exactly that.”