Seniors Adrian Tracy and Sean Lissemore have a lot in common. They were both defensive linemen during their tenure at William and Mary. They were both defensive captains this past season, and they were considered two of the top defensive players in the country during their senior year.
The only major issue in which they differed was their favorite professional football teams. Tracy is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, while Lissemore — who grew up a 30-minute drive from East Rutherford, N.J — is a diehard New York Giants fan.
Imagine Tracy’s surprise when Giants general manager Jerry Reese called him to say the Giants had selected him with the 184th overall pick — 15th pick of sixth round — of the NFL Draft. And imagine Lissemore’s reaction about two hours later when Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones phoned the defensive tackle to tell him the Cowboys had taken him with the 234th pick of the draft — 27th pick of seventh round.
After spending their entire lives watching their favorite teams, both players must now quickly switch their allegiances.
“I was getting calls from a lot of teams from around the league who were trying to set up free agent deals, but there were still a couple of other picks [left on the board],” Lissemore said. “The Colts and Seattle both had another pick, and I was thinking that they might pick me up in the late seventh [round], and then I got a call from Dallas. It was real casual at first and then he said, ‘we will call you back in a second.’ The next thing I know, I’m getting a call from Jerry Jones who said, ‘You’re going to get drafted by us.’ It was very, very surprising, but very, very exciting.”
Tracy, who began his career at the College as a walk-on, said he was nervous Saturday as well. But instead of gathering around the television set, the senior defensive end, who had just returned home to Loudon County, Va. after preparing for the draft in Miami, took an alternate approach to the draft process.
“My mother and I had actually left to go run some errands,” Tracy said. “She saw me pacing around and getting a little anxious, so she asked me to come out with her to do some errands. So we were out when I received a call from [New York Giants General Manager Jerry] Reese, and she heard through the phone, and was excited and yelling and threw her hands up. When I drove home, my sister was yelling with her head out the window and my dad opened the door when we got home and he was all excited … There were just positive emotions all the way around.”
Tracy was invited to work out at the NFL Combine in February, where he impressed scouts and talked with several organizations. Those talks led to visits in the weeks preceding the draft, including a visit with the Giants. But Tracy did not hear anything more from the Giants until he received Reese’s call Saturday afternoon.
“I had [the Giants] as one of the teams that I visited, but I have been getting calls from about 22 teams in the last two days, and the Giants weren’t one of them. So I wasn’t 100 percent sure,” Tracy said. “But that’s how this process has worked so far, the teams that weren’t as interested in you as you initially thought turn out to be the ones who go after you the strongest.”
Although he finished second in the CAA his senior season with 12 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a defensive end, Tracy will make the transition to outside linebacker for the Giants due to his size. He is scheduled to report to rookie camp Thursday in East Rutherford, N.J.
Unlike Tracy — who many experts had projected to go late in the draft — Lissemore did not know whether he would be drafted on Saturday. He was on the phone listening to free-agent offers for undrafted rookies before the Cowboys came calling.
“We were just relaxing,” Lissemore said. “We watched the second and third rounds [Friday] night. Then we woke up [Saturday] morning at 10 a.m. and were trying to be optimistic about those earlier rounds, and they passed, and then Adrian got drafted, and then the seventh [round] comes around and all of sudden, we were starting to get pretty serious about free agent deals. They were throwing some good contracts my way. But I still really wanted to get drafted, and then the Cowboys call came around and that was it.”
Lissemore finished his senior season with 14 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks. He notched two interceptions and deflected four passes, landing him a spot on the All-CAA First Team and All-American nod.
Now that Lissemore and Tracy have both secured spots in NFL training camps, they look forward to meeting on the field. As NFC East rivals, the Cowboys and Giants will play each other twice next season.
“At least both of us are on the same side of the ball and don’t have to go against each other,” Lissemore said. “It’s just funny, for two reasons. One, we play each other twice a year. Two, the Giants were my favorite team growing up, although I can’t really say that much anymore, and the Cowboys were his favorite team growing up and he’s playing for the Giants. So it’s kind of weird how that worked out.”