After winning the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year award, Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma — a rare bone cancer — in his leg that sidelined him for the following season.
For awhile, his future in football was very much up in the air.
"They felt the NFL was a long shot," his father, Sandy Herzlich, told ESPN.com of the initial prognosis. "They were first happy if they could save his life and they were happy if they could save his leg."
But Herzlich would return — rather rapidly — in 2010 to start every game of his senior year, compiling four interceptions and 3.5 sacks.
And on Saturday, he will get one step closer to reaching another one of his goals when he makes his professional debut in the New York Giants' preseason game against Carolina.
The Giants signed Herzlich as an undrafted free agent and, despite the shortened training camp, he's managed to make an impression on the coaching staff.
"Herzlich, I love," said linebacker coach Jim Herrmann. "Obviously his sickness has really driven his focus to succeed — and he's going to succeed. That's just the way he is. Pretty much he was on his death bed and now he's playing with the New York Giants."
Saturday marks a big step toward whether or not Herzlich makes the team's final roster. Even if he doesn't, though, his story is still an admirable one.
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