When Eric LeGrand suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in a game against Army on October 16, 2010, it seemed his dream of reaching the NFL had been cruelly denied.
All of that changed today, when LeGrand was signed to a free agent contract by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his former head coach, Greg Schiano.
In addition to Schiano and a cluster of ex-Rutgers assistants, LeGrand will be joining a Bucs roster that features former Knights Jeremy Zuttah, Ron Girault and Desmond Wynn. Wide receiver Tim Brown will also be with the team in rookie camp.
An excited LeGrand spoke with reporters via conference call this morning and said Schiano had mentioned to him earlier in the week about wanting to make this transaction official.
"It did actually come out of nowhere," LeGrand said. "He actually called my mom up, I believe Monday night and told her. He didn't tell me until Tuesday around 1 o'clock and presented me with this whole thing that he was going to do. I was like 'Are you serious? You really want to use this on me?' He said, 'It's the least I can do.'
"Dreams do come true, if you really believe. You do the right things in life, good things happen to you. He did this out of the kindness of his heart and I had no idea this was going to happen."
Since his injury, LeGrand has inspired millions with his progress. He is now able to sit up for 15 minutes under his own power and has moved from an 80-session walking program to therapy two to three days per week at the Kessler Institute and a rigorous at-home training regimen.
"I have an arm and leg program at my house, a machine where I have a bunch of contraptions around me that are contracting my muscles to move and basically pedal the bike for me, which keeps me in top shape and keeps my muscles in shape," LeGrand explained.
Throughout this recovery, LeGrand has interacted with friends, teammates and strangers via his popular Twitter account. Fittingly, he'll use the account to christen his signing with Tampa.
"The Bucs are shipping me up a jersey, a helmet and my contract," he said. "Don't worry, I'm going to Tweet it out."
As of now, LeGrand is not sure what his role will be with the Bucs, but just the fact he is a member of their organization is satisfaction enough.
"It's a dream come true. It may not be the situation I way I wanted it to be but I can say I was there [the NFL]."