Through the Gates: Julien Davenport ‘17 talks about life in the NFL

Patrick Dempsey, Sports Co-Editor

When Julién Davenport ’17 received his diploma at the Commencement ceremony on the Malesardi Quadrangle in May of 2017, his career as a professional football player still existed as a dream. When Davenport was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 National Football League Draft to the Houston Texans, he became the first University student to be drafted in the NFL since 1969.

Five hundred and twenty-two days after his graduation, Davenport is a starter on the offensive line of the AFC South-leading Houston Texans. He is called upon each week to do the difficult job of blocking defenders and protecting college football national champion and two-time Heisman Trophy nominee quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Making the jump from college to the NFL is tough for any player, but making the jump from Patriot League football to earning a starting role in the NFL is as impressive as it gets. Playing in his second year, Davenport, the 6’7” political science major from Paulsboro, N.J., continues to adjust to playing with and against players that are bigger, faster, and stronger than the players he was on the field with at the University.

“As a rookie, you kind of get thrown into the wolves,” Davenport said. “I found out pretty soon that the competition was not what I was used to at Bucknell. After getting a week or two of training camp under my belt, I started to get acclimated to the competition.”

The first two years of Davenport’s NFL tenure have not been free of all mistakes, but he has become a consistent and formidable force on the Texans’ offensive line.

Players and coaches of the Bison football team have kept in contact with Davenport. When asked what Davenport’s reputation among his teammates was when he played for the Orange and Blue, Davenport’s former teammate Jack Chambers ’19 said, “[He was] definitely a true leader. He was always hard-working but he also had fun with what he did.”

Davenport spoke highly about all the great people at the University who had a positive influence on his career. Davenport said the coach he is in the most contact with is former University offensive line coach Darnell Stapleton. Stapleton is now a coach at Sam Houston State University, but coached the Orange and Blue for four years while Davenport played.

“Darnell and I talk a lot. He helped me to get ready for the NFL, being that he was in the NFL himself and had won a Super Bowl,” Davenport said. “Still to this day, we still communicate on certain things and I feel like he will be a mentor to me for as long as I play.”

Entering the NFL after going through such a rigorous liberal arts curriculum has also had some perks. Davenport’s education and skills he has developed in the classroom have helped him master an NFL playbook.

“Being able to hold and retain information is really helpful when it comes to trying to learn a playbook and being able to really understand the offense and how things operate,” Davenport said.

As the Texans approach the midway point of their season, Davenport will be called upon to perform at a high level with the hope of helping his team make the playoffs. If the Texans continue playing well, expect to see more and more students sporting a blue and red jersey with the name “Davenport” on the back of it.

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