When Travis Fulgham stepped foot on campus at Old Dominion, the football program was making the jump from FCS to the FBS, in just in its sixth year of existence. Fulgham was a walk-on, who had to earn a scholarship during his redshirt freshman season.
Fast forward to now, and Travis Fulgham is a legitimate NFL prospect, and one that will be competing at next month's Senior Bowl.
What's even crazier about Fulgham's story? Before this season, despite playing in 27 games, he had yet to crack 1,000 career receiving yards.
Due to these factors, it's fair to say Fulgham wasn't the most well-known wide receiver prospect entering the year. So how exactly did Fulgham produce his breakout season, and find himself on NFL radars?
Fulgham hails from noted wide receiver factory Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Their wide receiver coach is Myron Curtis, who helped Travis along during his high school career.
Coach Curtis described Travis as a "special type of player that, if you're lucky, you get to coach once in your career." He raves about Fulgham's all-around game, whether its the speed to run past a defensive back or the ability to win jump ball situations.
The best part about Coach Curtis? He is passionate about stalk blocking. I'm a wide receiver coach myself, I thought I was passionate about all aspects of the game. Nah, Coach Curtis lives and breathes it. So much so that he nicknames his group the "Bully Squad."
Travis Fulgham's film is absolutely littered with perimeter blocks that lead to huge gains for his teammates.
Coach Curtis noted that Travis fully embraced the challenge to improve as a blocker: "We already knew that Travis was a special talent, but we challenged him to be a better blocker and he eagerly accepted that challenge. He really wanted to prove that he could perfect his craft, and do the little things that would help us win."
When you watch Travis play the game, it is impossible not to fall in love with his effort.
We all know that NFL teams view stalk blocking as more of a bonus for wide receivers, and that prospects get drafted based on how well they can catch the football. Fear not, because Travis Fulgham excels in that area too.
That ability to win jump ball situations that Coach Curtis had mentioned, or contested spots with a defensive back on his back hip? Check.
The speed to get behind defensive backs, even from schools noted for their defensive back play such as Virginia Tech? Check.
Contact balance to pick up yards after the catch? Check.
Subtleties and nuance in his route running? Check, yet again.
At 6'3 and 215 pounds, Fulgham has the coveted physical profile for the next level. Additionally, he has the experience and versatility to play on the outside or in the slot, something Old Dominion frequently asked of him.
That game against Virginia Tech early this season was truly his coming out party, as he posted 9 receptions for 188 yards and 1 touchdown. That game would kick off a streak of 9 consecutive games with exactly 1 touchdown to end his collegiate playing career.
That redzone presence will be tested in Mobile during 1 on 1 drills, which is an area Fulgham has thrived throughout his collegiate tape.
Fulgham may have been slept on entering the season, but after scouting him in preparation for the Senior Bowl, its easy to see why he was invited. Next month will serve as an opportunity for him to continue his ascent into draftable status, and I'm betting on Fulgham to exceed those expectations.
p.s. Best. Celebration. Ever.