Xavier Fulton And His Snoring

May 4th, 2009

While the Bucs’ newcomers were busy at One Buc Palace this weekend, so too was Joe, but not at One Buc Palace. Joe touched base over the weekend with University of Illinois beat writer Bob Asmussen of the Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette. Asmussen shared some thoughts and insight into Bucs fifth round pick, offensive tackle Xavier Fulton.

What are your overall impressions of Xavier Fulton? Was he overrated or underrated?

Xavier had such an unusual career at Illinois. He played on the defensive line his first two years, starting three games as a freshman and seven more as a sophomore. He looked like he could have a major impact on the defense. Then, he hurt his knee during the 2005 season (Ron Zook’s first year) and wasn’t able to play in 2006. I thought his career might be over.

Then, the Illinois coaches asked him to move to the offensive line, where they needed help. But he definitely overachieved as an offensive lineman.

He is a very good athlete who has found the right spot to continue his career. I’d have to call him underrated because his best football is ahead of him. If he someday gets a big contract, like past Illini linemen Dave Diehl and Tony Pashos, he might want to send some of that money back to the Illinois coaches. They did him a favor.

What may have hurt him or scared off NFL teams that he slipped down to Day Two of the draft?

He has had shoulder problems and had surgery after the combine. In hindsight, it might have been better to get the work done before the 2008 season, but I don’t think Xavier wanted to jeopardize his final year. From what I understand, he is on the road to recovery and should be ready to go for the 2009 season.

Was there a game or a play of Fulton’s that jumped out at you when you first thought, “Damn, this guy’s going to get paid to play on Sundays?”

You could see when he first moved to the offensive line that he had found his home. But he was especially good in Illinois’ win against Ohio State spot in 2007. Illinois dominated the game up front and Xavier was a big part of that. Many of the big runs in that game by Juice Williams were following the left side of the line.”

How did he do against teams like Penn State or Ohio State the past couple of years which had loaded defenses?

He played well in the 2007 games against Penn State and Ohio State. But I think his shoulder injury hurt him some in the 2008 games. The Illinois line was never quite right in 2008. Part of it was because Rashard Mendenhall had left for the NFL. But part of it was Xavier and the rest of the guys maybe trying too hard to repeat what had happened in 2007.

Anything off the field that readers might find interesting that few know about (i.e. cured shingles, saved a woman from a burning car, dated an Illini cheerleader, posed as Chief Illiniwek, sold popcorn at Soldier Field, hunted ducks, etc)? I’m guessing since he grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago he wanted to be Michael Jordan?

Xavier is a very interesting guy. And a very smart guy. We do Q&As each week with one Illinois player and his was among the best ever. One thing he told me is that he likes to do things from the left. He’ll use his left hand to open a door. He’ll put his left knee brace on first. Stuff like that. Something else that all of the players talk about is how loud he snores. One guy said it was “like a freight train” and asked to get a different roommate on road trips. His snoring has become legendary.

To read more of Asmussen’s articles, please visit IlliniHQ.com.

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