FOXBORO, Mass. — There's about to be a UMass reunion Sunday at Gillette Stadium — on Homecoming weekend no less.
Patriots safety James Ihedigbo and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz will square off for the first time ever in a regular-season game. The two were at UMass together for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and they were more than excited to catch up on the field this weekend.
They matched up against one another in the 2010 preseason when Ihedigbo was still with the Jets, but Sunday will be different. Ihedigbo has started the last three games at safety, and Cruz has been one of the NFL's surprising breakout players of the season. He caught four touchdowns in his last five games, which is second in that span to Calvin Johnson.
"We talk all the time," Cruz said. "I'm definitely excited to play against him. Actually, we played against him when he was at the Jets, but never in a full game when he was the starting safety and I'm starting, so there's definitely going to be a good matchup to watch."
To add to the sentimentality, Gillette Stadium will be UMass' full-time home starting next season when the program moves up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).
The pair were planning to talk over the phone Friday. There was no word on whether or not Ihedigbo warned Cruz about going over the middle in his zone.
"We'll see what happens when that takes place. We'll be ready on defense," Ihedigbo said. "He's a great football player. Even in college, he made some big plays, some freakish plays, and he's transitioning to do the same in the NFL. He's become a bona fide playmaker. It's going to be exciting to go against him, but I'm definitely looking to come out on top."