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Hulamau
05-26-2009, 02:26 AM
Rulon has some shoulders and gunns on him ... and absolutely the right attitude!

Fighting Through Adversity

Rulon Davis is working his way through the Broncos offseason as an undrafted free agent.

By Gray Caldwell
DenverBroncos.com

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Since Rulon Davis was a child, his father knew he was destined for big things.

After all, that's why he's named Rulon.

"He's always told me ever since I was a little kid that he wanted a name that people can chant from the stands," Davis said.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Rulon Jones played in Denver from 1980-88, and Lorenzo Davis liked the way the name echoed throughout Mile High Stadium. So Lorenzo, a Chargers fan, named his son after a Bronco.

Luckily the younger Davis grew into his 6-foot-5, 281-pound frame, and now as a college free agent for the Broncos has a chance to hear his own chants in INVESCO Field at Mile High.

But Davis has already accomplished plenty of big things in his 25 years, both involving football and far from it.

Before he even finished high school, Davis knew he wanted to join the Marine Corps just as his father had done three decades earlier.

In fact, he tried to enlist at 17, but found out quickly that he would have to wait until he was the legal age of 18. So he bided his time.

Davis graduated from high school in June. He was in boot camp by July.

It wasn't your typical boot camp, however. There were the every day stresses of training to be a Marine, but one of the biggest events in American history happened early on, as well.

"While in boot camp, 9/11 occurred, and that was a scary moment for me," he said. "All the Marines thought we were going to war."

But Davis didn't go to war. Yet. In fact, he finished out his training and was released from active duty to the Marine Forces Reserve.

So he decided to attend Mt. San Antonio College, a junior college in California. There, he blossomed on the defensive side of the ball, racking up 32 tackles and 16.5 sacks as a freshman on a 10-2 team that advanced to the second round of postseason. He was one of the leaders of a defense that ranked No. 11 in California. He knew then that he wanted to keep playing football.

Then in March of 2004, Davis got a call that he was heading to Iraq.

He spent six months as an avionics technician in a helicopter squadron in a place that Davis could only describe as "like being on another planet."

"As soon as we touched down, you just knew you weren't at home," he said. "Everything looked different -- the air tasted different, the water tasted different, the food tasted different. So it was kind of a crazy time. You really don't know your up from your down. You don't know left from right. Everything is different -- I really can't explain it."

Temperatures soared to more than 100 degrees and winds would kick up sandstorms at any given moment. Davis recalls how tough the conditions were, and the fact that an enemy was out there trying to do harm to Davis and his fellow soldiers made every moment even more stressful.

One thing that kept him going for the six long months he spent overseas was the thought of the game that he loves.

"I pulled from football while over in Iraq," he said. "That kept my motivation, because that's what I wanted to do as soon as I got back -- gotta play football, gotta play football. So that kept my spirits up while over there."

And when he did get back from his tour of duty, that's exactly what he did. He started receiving calls from various schools offering him scholarships to play football, but it was his third official recruiting trip that stood out. He visited the University of California, and the location, academics and football history let him know -- "that was the place for me," he said.

And it proved to be a good decision. He racked up 40 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in just 10 starts for the Golden Bears, seven of which came as a senior. He played in 21 contests throughout his career and used his athleticism to change many games -- he blocked a field goal attempt at Washington State as a senior that was returned 68 yards for a TD. As a senior he received the Bob Tessier Award as Cal's most improved defensive lineman, and currently owns the top recorded vertical jump of all time for a Cal defensive lineman at 33.5 inches.

And just like he pulled from football to be successful in the Marines, Davis said he pulled from the Marines to be successful in football.

"The Marines teach a spirited core -- always faithful, honor, courage, commitment, leadership traits, discipline -- all that stuff carries over into life, not just football," he explained. "Mental toughness, overcoming adversity, that's everything I've been taught and everything I've been put through. So when it comes to football, that stuff is secondary. I don't even think about having to push myself or worry about a little nagging injury. It's second nature."

Now Davis is putting his football acumen to work this offseason in an attempt to make the Broncos as an undrafted free agent. It's something that has been done before -- players from Rod Smith to Wesley Woodyard were up to the task -- and something that can be done again. With the work ethic Davis brings to the table, he certainly has as good a chance as anyone.

"I'm trying to get better every single day," he said. "My goal for this year would be an All-Rookie selection. That's my individual goal. As a team, I want to win of course. But in order to get there I've just got to keep improving every day, staying hungry, trying to get in on any kind of play I can get in on, doing the right thing, eating right, training hard and working hard.

"Do that and everything else will pay off."

watermock
05-26-2009, 02:32 AM
That would be a great story in a chaotic offseason.

footstepsfrom#27
05-26-2009, 02:36 AM
Well he's obviously in the right place. Where else would a UDFA DE have a better chance at a roster spot than Denver? He needs about 15 more pounds but he sounds promising based on these intangibles you can't teach.

cutthemdown
05-26-2009, 02:41 AM
WHat I like most about the udfa Dlineman and Ayers, and even the journeyman FA Reid and Fields, is that they have good size. Broncos at least will be bigger this yr. If one of the udfa, and Ayers works out, that would really help the front 7 get bigger and more physical.

Hulamau
05-26-2009, 04:11 AM
Well he's obviously in the right place. Where else would a UDFA DE have a better chance at a roster spot than Denver? He needs about 15 more pounds but he sounds promising based on these intangibles you can't teach.

Yeah but he sure has the frame for an extra 15 quality pounds of muscle, not just fat.

Tuten will have him up to 290 by kick off I imagine and a solid 295 .. Tyson Jackson/Trevor Pryce- size ... by next season. And the guy is strong as a bull as it is...

I think he has a real shot at a UDFA makes good story!

Hulamau
05-26-2009, 04:28 AM
WHat I like most about the udfa Dlineman and Ayers, and even the journeyman FA Reid and Fields, is that they have good size. Broncos at least will be bigger this yr. If one of the udfa, and Ayers works out, that would really help the front 7 get bigger and more physical.

You're right Cut, Fields is no slouch and known Nolan's system inside and out and can really help teach the other guys as well.

Thomas has bulked up to play Nose or DE and will play around 325, and Powell is tipping the scales at 315 according to him now, combine that with Baker who comes in at a short 6'2" perfect height for a NT and 326lbs from the start and we have some strong young meat on the D line for a change.

Also the other UDFA Everett Pedescleaux at 6'6" ... 305lbs with plenty room to grow and a couple of these guys coming in could become solid players for us, if not this year then next.

Between Thomas, Fields and Baker we will have a more than servicable NT this year.

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BroncoInSkinland
05-26-2009, 05:04 AM
I love this kids atitude, work ethic, everything. I hope he has the physical ability to make it in the NFL, I can't imagine anyone with more heart, or a better team oriented guy. This kinda atttitude has to be infectious for those around him. Overall I am not in favor of waiting for UDFA's to solve the problems on our line, but if Rulon plays with half the determination he has shown in the rest of his life it could work out very well for us.

CHANGSTER
05-26-2009, 06:02 AM
Adopt a Bronco controversy!

Really pulling for the guy. Gotta love a guy with a story like his. A semi truck!

worm
05-26-2009, 09:49 AM
The guy I most want to see succeed this year.

Live up to your namesake.