Allen Park — There are plenty of different paths to the NFL, and Detroit Lions' sixth-round draft pick Travis Fulgham certainty took one of the less traveled.
Fulgham wasn't a high school star. In fact, he played just two years at Broad Run High School in Virginia. He wasn't ranked by recruiting services and didn't have any scholarship offers, ultimately enrolling as a walk-on at Old Dominion.
Yes, Old Dominion, a school with only a handful of NFL alumni and none who had ever been selected in the draft.
That all changed last weekend, when two Monarchs heard their names called. Linebacker Oshane Ximines was the first off the board, going No. 95 to the New York Giants. Fulgham followed three rounds later, to the Lions.
And Fulgham's road to the NFL isn't close to the most interesting thing about his life. A child of two foreign-service officers for the United States Agency for International Development, he spent much of his youth living abroad.
Prior to settling in Virginia for his high school years, Fulgham called a number of countries home, including India, South Africa, Egypt and Jordan. His passport is loaded with stamps, so if his new teammates in Detroit need any travel tips, the rookie is likely to have some thoughts.
His favorite place he's been?
"I would say Thailand," Fulgham said during a conference call Saturday with Detroit media. "It’s definitely a beautiful country, definitely a lot of different sights to see, probably one of my favorite vacations I ever took. I went to the island of Phuket, that’s probably some place everybody should go."
You may be asking yourself, what exactly is a foreign-service officer? They serve as diplomats for the state department. Their mission is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad. Much of the work they do is in developing areas.
The family returned and settled in Virginia so Travis could focus on academics and athletics. Both parents have since retired, although his mother continues to work overseas part time for the USAID, while his father still does some consulting.
In high school, Fulgham started out playing basketball and soccer, winning a state title in the latter as a senior. He didn't pick up football until his junior year.
At Old Dominion, it didn't take long to earn a scholarship. After redshirting as a freshman, his production peaked last year as a senior. He finished the year with 63 catches for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns. Much of the damage came via the deep ball, although he views himself as a complete receiver.
"I definitely am a polished route runner, can run any route on the route tree," Fulgham said.
His senior performance earned him invitations to both the Senior Bowl and scouting combine.
And according to a scouting report from The Draft Network, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is an exceptional blocker, an unrated skill that is valued by the Lions, and one that could help on special teams.
"Potentially the best stalk blocker among wide receivers in the entire NFL Draft class," The Draft Network writes. "Drives and finishes defensive backs as they struggle to disengage. Has shown dominating traits for his stalk blocking (when a receiver blocks a defensive back in space) and maximum effort, even in the waning moments of clear losses."
Much like he did at Old Dominion, Fulgham has a steep hill to climb to carve out a receiving role in Detroit. He joins an established depth chart, headed by Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. Fulgham was more of any outside option in college, but does have some experience playing in the slot.