EAST HANOVER, NJ- After receiving an email from USA Football, Eric Magnifico, a Hanover Park senior, discovered he was nominated for a chance to win a five thousand dollar equipment grant through the Heart of a Giant award.

The program, which is run by the New York Giants and USA Football, was created to honor high school football players from the tri-state area. According to the official website, the award is presented by the Hospital for Special Surgery and the NY Giants to a player that demonstrates “unparalleled work ethic and passion for the game.”

To even be considered for the award, high school football coaches must nominate the player.

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“I was a little surprised because I guess my coach is a little secretive about what he does,” the student-athlete said.

Because coaches can only submit one nomination, the player has to be who they believe best embodies what it means to have the heart of a Giant. The rules highlight the following characteristics: commitment, teamwork, will, character and dedication.

Magnifico said, “Whatever the coach asks me to do, I do it for my team. I never want to give up no matter what the score is on Friday night. I always want to play four quarters no matter what. I think that I have a passion and drive that most kids really don’t have.”

Fellow teammate and friend, Donato Casolaro, said, “He is probably one of the most emotional people, in a good way. He just gives everything for everything he does, just like writing a paper. He talks a lot. He’s very motivational in that sense. He never stops talking.”

Although his teammates may look to him for motivation, Magnifico’s source of inspiration comes from his brother, Mike.

“He’s ten years older than me, so he kind of is almost like a father figure to me. He’s always been behind me, guiding me, telling me what do, what’s wrong from right,” the nominee said.

After receiving student of the month, Magnifico is determined to be the best he can be both on and off the field. In addition to playing football and focusing on academics, the senior is a part of the varsity club and his church’s Antioch team.

“Every day, I always think about my family. I try and represent my last name, Magnifico, to the best of my ability,” he said.

Voting for week one’s nominees remains open until September 25. To submit your vote for any of the nominees, including Eric Magnifico, visit http://www2.usafootball.com/poll_management/userpoll/10. The grand prize winner will be announced in December.