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The incredible story of Trenton's Daryl Virgies, Giants' new N.J. underdog

Mr. P

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Daryl Virgies won't forget the sensation.


"It felt like a blowtorch was on me," the Trenton native and recently-signed Giants running back said, recalling the day he was shot in his triceps.



Giants running back overview

Virgies had completed his final season at Virginia University of Lynchburg, a historically black NAIA school, and was beginning to pursue a professional career.


That was already a lofty goal for a player from a school as small as VUL. Then on Nov. 3, 2015, Virgies left his apartment in the early evening and found himself "in the wrong place at the wrong time."


"A friend of mine, he had an altercation with a guy," Virgies said. "The guy thought it was me. When they came, they had hoodies on, and they were just shooting. ... They were trying to get my friend, I was coming out of my apartment, we had a big party the other day, this was a whole new day.


"I was coming out, and we were going to the gym. The guy was like, 'What's up?' and they had hoodies on. ... They opened fire. I'm trying to get out of there, and I was trying to dive under a car, and then he shot me."


Virgies was the only person shot. He believes he heard the shooter say he had shot Virgies by mistake. Lynchburg Police arrived on the scene at 8:28 p.m., according to a press release that identified Virgies as the shooting victim, but the shooter had already fled.


No arrest was ever made, nor were any charges filed in connection with the incident, a police spokesman told NJ Advance Media. The case is currently inactive, the spokesman said.


If that was the only obstacle Virgies had to overcome, his story would already be exceptional. But his journey, which hit a high point last month when he signed a futures contract with the Giants, is far more improbable.


"What I've been through, I don't want anybody to go through what I've been through," Virgies said. "It doesn't seem real, because of where I came from, and the school I came from, and how I did it. It doesn't seem real."



Born in Trenton, Virgies said he "grew up in the streets," spending an extended stint in juvenile detention before high school. "I had 45 charges as a juvenile. I was just in and out of jail, and in the streets," he said. "I didn't care about anything, because I didn't have any guidance."


Virgies found some success in athletics at Trenton Central High. He played football, swam and ran track, but was academically ineligible to compete in athletics as a senior.


Giants lose coach, exec to 49ers

Giants lose coach, exec to 49ers


Virgies did graduate high school in 2009, though, and went to Neosho County Community College in Kansas for track in 2010. He left after a semester and transferred to Coffeyville Community College, also in Kansas, for football. But Virgies never saw the field, and left that school in 2011 due to grades and finances.


"I went home, and I thought it was over for me," he said. "I was back in the streets. I had a job, but I was still in the streets."


In 2013, Virgies was reunited with his father, Daryl Black, who had spent 12 years in prison on a firearms charge, according to state records. His father died of thyroid cancer later that year, but Virgies said the time he was able to spend with his father pushed him to get out of Trenton again.


"Growing up, that's what he did. He was in the streets," Virgies said. "Growing up, my mother had five kids. I was out of hand. I had a dad, but my dad was locked up. My mom was working three jobs, and we were living in poverty. It was so bad.


"The streets were my route, but I got out. I finally met my dad, and it was worth it. When my dad died, it took a toll on me. But I just gave it up, and turned my life around. Ever since then, there's been no looking back."



Virgies enrolled at VUL in 2013. He played football for the Dragons in 2014 and 2015. "It was crazy," he said. "I played d-tackle, d-end, linebacker, and then safety and running back."



Giants wide receiver overview

Virgies settled at running back as a senior, but a knee injury cost him playing time. He recovered by the end of the season, and then turned his focus toward the draft. Then the shooting happened.


Virgies said several teams showed interest, but backed off when they learned about the shooting. Virgies, who said he has run a hand-time 4.3 40-yard dash, estimates he was "40 percent" when he attended an NFL regional combine in New Orleans last March.


"My hands were still stuck. I had nerve damage, I had shocks running through my veins," he said. "I couldn't catch the ball, I couldn't grip. There were nights I cried. I couldn't grip and I couldn't feel nothing. I could set my two fingers on fire, and not feel anything."


Virgies kept training after the combine, "trying to get seen by any and everybody," and got his first workout with the Colts in August. In December, he went to tryouts with the Packers and Jets.


Then in January, right when Virgies was about to sign a deal with the Richmond Roughriders, a team in an upstart indoor league, his agent received a call from the Giants. Virgies worked out in East Rutherford on Jan. 12, and was signed. He'll report to the start of the offseason program in April.


"It's been a hard, bumpy process. It's been a long road. I've learned that you just have to be patient, and stay humble, stay ready at any given time," Virgies said. "When you're a NAIA player like myself, you never know when you're going to get a call.


"Hope was always alive, because if they really want you, they're going to find the talent. That's what happened."


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