[Being drafted] means a lot for the school. It shows that hard work and following your dreams really can get you where you want to be, regardless of where you are or in what situation.
When the Houston Texans drafted Julién Davenport '17 in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft, he became the first Bucknellian drafted by the NFL in nearly a half-century, since the Baltimore Colts selected Sam Havilrak '69 48 years ago.
"[Being drafted] means a lot for the school," Davenport says. "It shows that hard work and following your dreams really can get you where you want to be, regardless of where you are or in what situation."
With an ideal NFL physique at 6-foot-7 and 318 pounds, Davenport was not the typical Bucknell recruit when he arrived in 2013 from Paulsboro, N.J. "I took an official visit and just being on Bucknell's campus — it felt like the place for me," says Davenport, who majored in political science.
Finding a mentor in offensive line coach Darnell Stapleton, a starting offensive guard for the 2008 Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, helped fuel Davenport's NFL aspirations.
Stapleton taught "a thorough knowledge of the game, as well as a certain skillset and mindset that helped me to really succeed as I went through the [draft] process," Davenport says.
With the draft behind him but the hardest work ahead, Davenport seeks to carve out a starting role with the Texans this year, despite the challenge. "These guys are all great players, so it's going to be interesting to see everybody out there and battling each and every day," he says. "But if you don't have the mindset that you're trying to take somebody's job, then this isn't the business for you. The cards will play themselves out when it all comes down to it."
If Davenport winds up with a winning hand, Texans fans could find themselves very familiar with their newest fourth-round pick. And just maybe, it won't be another 48 years before the NFL drafts another Bucknellian.