ALBANY, N.Y. -- The first college football game defensive tackle Markus Kuhn saw was also the first one he played in for North Carolina State.
The start to his professional career will be much the same. When the New York Giants open their preseason schedule Friday night at Jacksonville, it will be Kuhn’s first live look at an NFL game.
Unusual? Sure, but that’s a good way to describe Kuhn’s path to the NFL.
The German tackle started playing football at age 15 with his local club, the Weinheim Longhorns. He traveled the East Coast with his father in 2006 showing various colleges a DVD of his highlights and eventually ended up at North Carolina State.
The Giants took the 26-year-old Kuhn in the seventh round of this year’s draft. He missed OTAs as he cleared up work visa issues but has been practicing every day in training camp.
“It’s been definitely different than what most Americans have gone through, but I think at best it shows how much I really have passion for what I’m doing right now and how much I love the game,” Kuhn said. “If you’re an American and you have decent size you get brought up -- you’re kind of almost kind of forced into playing football -- and then you go to your way to college. But I’m here because I really want to be here and that’s I think that maybe shows too about my attitude, the way I approach the game and the way I approach meetings and practices and things like that. I want to be here and I enjoy my time here and I want to stay as long as I can.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin said the rookie has shown flashes.
“He’s a nice sturdy, young man,” Coughlin said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s starving to learn. Very, very good attitude. The kind of guy that we think can be like a sponge. He needs so much information, pretty solid inside. Doesn’t really know a whole lot about pass protection. We have a lot of room to coach him there.”
Kuhn has been learning all he can from the veterans on the defensive line -- players who prompted him to always choose the Giants when playing the Madden video game -- as well as from the coaching staff.
“I’m still relatively new to the game, and if you’re going against better guys like I’m doing now you have to be very sound with your technique, and there are just some things I need to work on,” he said. “I’m just listening and paying attention. This coaching staff is -- they know what they are doing, they’re here for a reason. I’m just trying to soak up as much information from them and also from my veteran teammates as well.”
Kuhn called Friday’s game, and preseason games as a whole, as a test, “which pretty much decides mainly if you make the team or not.”
“So you have to be good in preseason, you have to show your talent on special teams and any phases of the game you’re involved in and give 100 percent,” Kuhn said. “And at the end of the day if you did well in all those areas you hopefully make the team.”