Talk about deja vu. The Eagles are in the middle of a Sunday Night Football contest against an NFC foe.
The game is on the line, as time winds down in the fourth quarter. It’s a second down and Carson Wentz is lined up in the ‘gun ready to take the snap. Despite pressure in his face, Wentz is able to drop a beautiful pass into the ‘breadbasket’ of number 13, running down the sidelines. Only this time he caught it, unlike Agholor.
Okay, sorry. Honestly, would anyone had missed that opportunity?
The jokes truly right themselves. No disrespect to Agholor who seems to have found a niche in Las Vegas, currently listed as the only player in the league out of 231 that has a perfect passer rating when targeted (min. of eight targets). It just remains pretty astonishing how a guy who has probably taken that rep with Carson Wentz over 1,000 times during his time in Philadelphia is unable to come away with the reception.
While a guy who was on the practice squad just days earlier, had taken the rep just one time prior to the reception according to Wentz, executed it so flawlessly. NBC’s Cris Collinsworth couldn’t have put it any better when he said during the broadcast “a fantastic play for a guy that’s come out of nowhere.”
While the naysayers will downplay Fulgham, saying that play was more of a great Carson Wentz pass than Travis Fulgham catch. Including Fulgham himself, who admitted losing the ball while it was in the air at first.
#Eagles WR Travis Fulgham on his 42-yard TD catch: "At first, I lost the ball, but since Carson gave me a great throw, I was able to locate it and caught it in the bread basket.”
— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) October 5, 2020
However, then came the latest performance against a Pittsburgh defense that came into the game ranked 12th in pass defense. 10 receptions, 152 yards, and a touchdown the first game of this kind for an Eagles wide receiver since 2014.
Not too shabby for a practice squad guy, huh?
In fact, not only was Fulgham’s performance impressive but according to Pro Football Focus his 93.0 receiver graded was the highest for an Eagles receiver since week four of the 2010 season.
When asked about the sudden emergence of Fulgham, Carson Wentz sounded like a man ecstatic to finally has a receiver on the outside he can count on this season.
"I think he showed last week that he's no fluke." — Carson Wentz on Travis Fulgham
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) October 14, 2020
Despite the immediate contributions being made over the last two weeks, there seems to be a few questions on everyone’s mind (literally everyone).
For starters where did he come from? Why is he always open? And then there is the obvious question:
Who is that guy ⁉️
TRAVIS FULGHAM. ?? @TravisFulgham #FlyEaglesFly | #PHLSportsNation
(?: @E_Carosella) pic.twitter.com/9G9tPAWDgY
— Eagles Nation (8-7) (@PHLEaglesNation) October 14, 2020
Instability and hard work are two things that seemed to be engrained into making Fulgham the player but more so the person he is today. Living in five countries as a child would do those kinds of things to you. Jordan (Asia), Egypt, South Africa, India, and of course the United States. Adapting to new circumstances, making the most out of the situation you’re in, spending the first 16 years of your life constantly having to make new friends and learn new cultures.
This is the kind of lifestyle Fulgham became accustomed to with both his parents working for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“Travis, every few years, had to move to a different country. Because he was so young, he just thought that was normal and what people do. I see him now as an adult and I see — and not to overanalyze the situation — but I see it helping him in situations that he just went through.” – Celeste Fulgham (Mother)
So given the uncharacteristic circumstances surrounding his childhood, is it truly a surprise to see how Fulgham has continued to adapt throughout the early phases of his career?
Travis Fulgham entered the league back in 2019 as a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions. After being relegated to practice squad duties, Fulgham was called up to the main roster in December of 2019 but made little to no impact (three targets, no receptions). The Eagles claimed Fulgham off waivers on August 20 following his release from the Green Bay Packers. Fulgham’s stint on the Packers roster was short-lived, as, despite Green Bay claiming him from the Detroit Lions on August 9, he was once again waived just nine days later.
They say adversity builds character and how Fulgham has handled his recent breakout can attest to that.
“Just being around all different types of people throughout my life, I feel like I can walk into any locker room and just connect with many different people. I feel comfortable changing situations all the time, that’s what I’ve done my whole life, so I feel like I’ve always been prepared for this NFL-crazy lifestyle.”
To think it’s even crazier when you consider that unlike most players in the league, who have played the game since childhood. Fulgham didn’t begin to play organized football until his family returned to America, and he enrolled in Massanutten Military Academy in Ashburn, Virginia for his junior year.
While Fulgham ended up making all-state that season, for his senior season he moved in with his dad transferred to Broad Run High. Which meant a lack of exposure and led to a lack of recruiting. Which played a role in Fulgham opting to stay instate and attend Old Dominion University as a walk on. That’s where the work ethic installed in him as a kid played a factor. Fulgham took the ‘first one in’ mentality to the next level.
Literally, for his first camp, he arrived a month earlier than anyone else on the team and earned a scholarship in the process.
“You could really see the potential. He was long and athletic and he could run, but he just hadn’t played much football. We didn’t have a scholarship left, although we thought he was a scholarship talent.” – Bobby Wilder (ODU Head Coach)
So Wilder made room for a Fulgham scholarship, and Fulgham repaid him as a senior with a 63 reception, 1,083-yard, and nine touchdown season. Including a phenomenal game against Virginia Tech that saw Fulgham go for 188 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions.
The biggest game of his career up to that point and a confirmation of what the coaching staff had thought about him.
“He’s probably eight-to-10 years behind everybody else on his team. My point being, he’s still just scratching the surface. He’s soaking it in. He’s learning, trying to understand how to run routes and understand concepts and defenses and what coordinators really mean when they speak. It’s still all new to him right now, and I just think he’s going to get better and better.” – Mike Zyskowski (ODU ST Coordinator and RB Coach)
At 6’2, with almost an 81-inch wingspan, Fulgham has a massive catch radius and the size to tower over defenders. He has also shown promise as a route runner and abilities to create separation from defensive backs.
Something Eagles receivers have struggled doing for some time now.
We all saw #Eagles WR Travis Fulgham go up and over defenders for big catches on Sunday … but I was impressed with some of the little things as a route runner as well! Am I seeing these right, @ochocinco?? #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/al7y5hgVek
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) October 12, 2020
Even with Fulgham in the midst of his impressive stretch, all eyes are on Eagles practice as veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery have both returned to the field in a limited capacity. It remains to be seen the role that Fulgham will have on the offense upon the impending returns.
Head coach Doug Pederson acknowledged the elephant in the room during a press conference
Doug Pederson says DeSean & Alshon Jeffery will practice and see how they feel
“It’s a difficult thing. It’s hard to say, Travis we have to push you aside. We have to select the 4 or 5 guys that give us the best chance on game day. Travis has showed he can play at a high level” pic.twitter.com/1hz0072bnv
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 14, 2020
Sounds like even if the two high-profile receivers return from injury sooner rather than later, Fulgham doesn’t plan on relinquishing his role as Wentz’s top target anytime soon.
The Eagles certainly have an interesting decision on their hands, but of course, if it’s up to Fulgham he won’t make it an easy one.
“I’ve always been an underdog,” Fulgham said. “It’s kind of how I’ve always played. My mindset will never change, I’ll always go 100 percent on every play and try my best out there at all times.”
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