New York Giants RB Sandro Platzgummer from Austria awaits start of training camp

As Austrian running back Sandro Platzgummer boarded the plane yesterday for New York bound for New York Giants training camp, he couldn’t help but look back on a dazzling year.

It was a year that saw him help his team, the Swarco Raiders, win the Austrian Bowl and a European title, and then, incredibly, saw him qualify for a spot on the Giants practice roster.

And the year is not over yet.

He is now entering the next phase, embarking on an adventure that every football player in the world dreams about at some point or other in their careers but only a very few get to experience. He will be competing for a  game roster spot at an NFL training camp.

It’s exciting and, for most it would be daunting too. But Platzgummer doesn’t seem bothered:

“I admit I am really excited and I know it’s a huge challenge, but I’m not intimidated. There’s guys in the NFL my size. I get inspiration from Christian McCaffrey who is no bigger than I am. I am looking forward to it.”

After arriving in New York he was immediately whisked into a two-week quarantine in a hotel near the Giants facility, giving him a week after emerging from isolation before training camp starts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mini camps he normally would have participated in have been dispensed with this year.

The 6′, 198 pound 23-year-old Platzgummer from Innsbruck, Austria has been the starting running back for the Swarco Raiders since 2015 and helped lead the team to four Austrian titles in five years including a perfect season in 2019 winning the Austrian title, and the European club championship. He also was an anchor on the Austrian national team that captured silver in the European Championships in 2018. He was a mainstay on the Austrian U19 national team as well prior to that.

Although the NFL was always a dream, it still seemed far off until last fall when it took a serious turn. He was one of only 33 athletes invited to the NFL International Pathway combine in Cologne, Germany. Following that he was selected to advance and was sent to the IMG Academy in Florida along with NFL players and draft hopefuls for additional training and development.

This year, the NFC East was chosen to receive International Pathway players in a random draw and the Giants picked Platzgummer.

“I had just uploaded my highlights last summer when James Cook from NFL International called. He had seen them and they were looking for players for the combine. So six weeks before the combine I was told to get ready.”

Despite having an issue with a lingering shoulder injury, Platzgummer set about getting ready for the event and participated.

“I was fairly happy with my performance apart from the catching which was hampered by my shoulder.”

He ran a 4.5 40 and had a 39″ vertical, both excellent results and obviously good enough for the invite to Florida. He obviously impressed scouts there as well. This led to the fateful call in April from Giants running back coach Burton Burns welcoming him to the Giants.

“That was pretty special. He told me I was the final piece of the puzzle.”

When asked which Giants player he looks up to, Platzgummer was quick to respond and his answer was not surprising.

“Running back Saquon Barkley is who I admire the most with everything he has accomplished so far.”

Now, he sits in isolation in New York, waiting for the next chapter of his life to begin, on the biggest stage in football.

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Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.