HOUSTON (AP) – Houston rookie Wali Lundy is excited about returning to his home state to face the New York Giants a week after his first 100-yard game.
The only problem: handling all the ticket requests.
“You wouldn’t believe all the people who have called asking for tickets this week,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
He said everyone from close family members to friends to minor acquaintances have been contacting him before his trip back to New Jersey. He expects to have a cheering section of about 50 people Sunday at the Meadowlands.
Lundy was born in New Brunswick, N.J., and was a two-time all-state performer at Holy Cross High School in Delran Township, N.J.
So naturally some of his best memories are from the state.
He helped Holy Cross to the state championship his junior season as a wide receiver. He converted to running back the next year and rushed for 2,030 yards and 30 touchdowns before signing with Virginia.
The normally modest and quiet Lundy is transformed when asked about his high school career.
“I was that star,” he said before breaking down in laughter. “Winning the state championship my junior year at Rutgers stadium was probably the best feeling I ever had playing football.”
“That is until I win the Super Bowl,” he said, followed by more riotous laughter.
Lundy and the Texans (2-5) aren’t anywhere near the Super Bowl, but they are making progress. The sixth-round pick has revived a running game that was averaging less than 70 yards a game just three weeks ago.
After the Texans placed Domanick Davis on the injured reserve before the season, Lundy was named the starter for Houston’s opener. He gained just 32 yards in that game and 25 yards in his second start.
Coach Gary Kubiak decided to try other options, and Lundy didn’t play for the next three games. After that failed, the first-year coach went back to the rookie.
So far it looks like a good decision as Lundy has gained 209 yards rushing the last two games, including last week’s 116-yard performance against the Titans.
Kubiak said Lundy’s progress has been a bit surprising.
“The thing I’ve been impressed with the last two weeks is how well he’s handled all of the aspects of the game,” Kubiak said. “Not just running the ball, but he’s been good in protection. He’s been automatic in assignments, and you have to be if you’re going to play all phases of the game.”
Lundy thinks the break was good for him.
“I don’t know if I was hesitant before, but maybe I just wasn’t as confident in myself as I should have been knowing that I can make the plays,” he said. “I think sitting down for a week or two was good for me just to come back and know that I can play in this league.”
There’s also another reason Lundy is looking forward to facing the Giants. He’ll get to play against another former Virginia star in Tiki Barber. Lundy said he’s always seen Barber, who leads the league in rushing yards, as a role model but that they’ve never met.
“Hopefully I’ll get to talk to him maybe after the game or before it. Coming out of Virginia you’ve got to look up to Tiki and what he’s been able to do in college and in the pros,” said Lundy, who left Virginia as the career Atlantic Coast Conference touchdowns leader with 52.
“I would love to follow in his footsteps.”