Sept. 27, 2013
By: Alex Cate
Zach Fulton wouldn't say playing offensive line is a family thing but it's getting hard to not think that way.
As the awards and accolades start to stack up, it's becoming more evident that the Fulton brothers, Zach and older brother Xavier, may have found their niche.
"He was a defensive end in high school and I remember I was with his friends one day and his friend was an offensive lineman and his friend told me if you become an offensive lineman you can eat whatever you want," said Zach. "I guess that kind of influenced me in my future decision on what play."
So while the younger Fulton was protecting quarterbacks and pancaking defenders from day one, Xavier was on the other side of the ball, disrupting plays and tackling the ball carrier.
"He started [playing football] when he was about 10, I didn't start playing football until I was in eighth grade," Zach said. "I don't think he started off playing the line. I started off playing the line because I was already big. I could barely play because of the weight limit."
It wasn't until 2007, his redshirt junior season at the University of Illinois, that Xavier found a permanent home playing the offensive line. While recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear, he was approached about making a move from the defensive side of the football to offensive. Success followed.
There Xavier won second-team All- Big Ten honors and earned a fifth round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 155th pick overall.
After reinjuring his ACL, Xavier bounced around several NFL teams before finding himself with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League where he's working his way back to the NFL.
Playing professional football isn't easy. Zach is reminded constantly by his older brother.
"It's something you've got to take serious and it's something you've got to put a lot of effort into and work into and it's not easy," Zach said he's been told.
Zach, a senior Volunteer offensive lineman is starting to rack up honors like his older brother. He's already been written on to several watch lists and was named a preseason second-team All-SEC player by SEC coaches.
CBS Sports ranks him as the 16th best offensive guard entering the 2014 draft and NFLdraftblitz.com pegs him as a 3rd round talent.
Off the field however, Zach says they're like any regular brothers.
Rarely home together, when they are he said they like to goof off and play video games. Being at home is time to relax and enjoy being with the family.
"Sometimes, he gives me little small details but not much. We don't talk football a whole lot when we're at home," Zach said.
Their main method of communication while apart is the occasional words of encouragement in a call or text message.
The CFL season runs almost alongside college football season, beginning in late June and ending in November, making it difficult to see one another play.
One day though they hope to play on the same day.