From No Scholarship to Philadelphia Eagles Hero: Travis Fulgham Proved his Doubters Wrong

PHILADELPHIA – 10 catches, 152 yards, and a touchdown reception. That’s what Travis Fulgam’s stats looked like when he exploded onto the scene last Sunday. Travis Fulgham knew he had to keep taking advantage of his opportunities. He just got called up last week, and if he didn’t show why he belonged, his hopes of being a star might dwindle out. That’s why, when walking out of the tunnel, he only had one thing on his mind: Go out, compete, and be able to finally say “I made it.” 

The Travis Fulgham story, however, is much more complicated than just being a practice squad player who is playing his heart out.

Before Fulgham ever laced up a pair of cleats, he saw the world from a very unique perspective. When Travis Fulgham was just 6 months old, his family moved to Amman, the capital city of Jordan. His mother was working for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID deploys US citizens in foreign countries around the world and focuses on responding to political and economic issues, poverty, education, and natural disaster relief. This caused the family to move frequently, helping those in need. After two years in Jordan, Fulgham lived in Cairo, Egypt, then Pretoria, South Africa. Following that, he returned to Amman, then lived 5 years in India before coming to the United States in 2011.

All of these experiences of living in other places opened the eyes of Fulgham. He has a greater understanding of the world around him, resulting in a “greater appreciation for everything [he] has.” (Daily Press of Virginia). Fulgham grew up around all the injustices of the world and experienced a very different childhood than most. These moments in his life ultimately shaped the persistent attitude he has. 

Upon his return to the United States, he entered his freshman year. Yet, Fulgham wouldn’t even pick a football until his junior year. Playing those two years at Broad Run High School in Virginia wasn’t enough to get Fulgham ranked by scouts. Receiving no scholarships, he was ignored. He wasn’t looked at. He was just seen another high school football athlete. 

Looking to prove himself to all of the college scouts who doubted him, Fulgham went to Old Dominion University as a walk-on. Walk-ons have to pay full tuition and have to try out for the team. Nothing was guaranteed for Fulgham. But the task was not enough to stop the soon-to-be star. He was built for moments like this, when everything is on the line he shows up. 

In less than a week, Fulgham went from being a walk-on who might’ve not made the team, to earning a full scholarship. His efforts were already culminating into something great. 

Michael Zyskowski, a special teams and RB coach and the Northern Virginia scout (both at the time) was the man who brought Fulgham to try out for ODU. 

“I’ll never forget,” Zyskowski said in an NBC Sports article. “He was on the scout team and he was just Moss’ing guys and making plays for the scout team, catching balls that were really just jump balls. He was catching balls that he had no business catching literally as a walk-on, true freshman receiver.” He was simply a pure athlete with a lot of potential in football, but still not yet even thought to be a guy who could ever make the league. 

After redshirting his freshman year, Travis Fulgham finally saw the field. He wasn’t anything special, but his determination continued to catch the coach staff’s eyes. He ended up barely seeing the field. His second year, however…well, things started to pick up. Fulgham’s raw athleticism was being utilized in the receiving game for the first time. Fulgham had a repeatable stat line, posting 29 catches for 478 yards (16.5 yards per catch) with 8 touchdowns. Still, it wasn’t enough to garner looks from any NFL team. But his size was an emerging red zone threat. But following that, Fulgham would have to face the biggest test yet. The team’s number one WR got hurt, missing ten games, and at the same time, Fulgham battled rib and knee injuries. Prevailing through the injuries, but ultimately coming up short, Fulgham didn’t play at the same level. 

Entering his final year of college, Fulgham needed to leave his mark. He met with his head coach privately and they had a very emotional discussion about his future. Fulgham had to work even harder; harder than everyone else on ODU’s football team. In 12 games played, Fulgham has 63 receptions for 1,083 yards, (17.2 yards per catch) 9 touchdowns. Fulgham might’ve finally done it. He might have made his dream come true.

He entered the NFL 2019 draft and was picked in the 6th round by the Detroit Lions, but the happy times were short-lived. By September 26, 2019, he was waived and re-signed to the practice squad. And at that point, it looked grim. Just a year later on August 9, 2020, he was officially cut from the team. Following that day, he signed with the Green Bay Packers, but once again was cut; only this time it was in 9 days. 

Being cut three times before ever even receiving a target had been demoralizing for Fulgham. He felt as if he failed. It only felt like setback after setback after setback. 

But Fulgham was committed to having a major comeback, better than all his previous ones. The Philadelphia Eagles signed him, giving him the last shot he needed. Fulgham knew he had to make his impact. A very big one. He was able to make the practice squad and stayed there until October 3rd. He was called up one day before a game against the reigning NFC Champions. Coming into the game, he was a nobody; leaving the game, he was the hero of Philly. Fulgham hauled in a 42-yard pass from Carson Wentz, getting the game-winning touchdown.  

Following that, we witnessed the incredible game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While some doubt his potential, many believe in the hype, and rightfully so. Since 2015, there have only been 52 different times a WR 25 years old or younger who had a stat line 10/150/1 or better. That list includes the likes of Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and Larry Fitzgerald. This was not a fluke game by any means. Fulgham is the 4th NFL player in the last 50 years to have a 10-catch, 150-yard game this early in his career. 

Telling you these stats and feats may mean nothing, but if you watched the game last Sunday, you know he is capable of being the next great Eagles WR.

The IQ and ability to make plays was shown. He showed he possesses the IQ to dominate his opponents, especially on jump balls. Carson Wentz has already shown extreme confidence in him and the chemistry between the two is blossoming.

As for the future, there is no telling what will happen. But I bought my ticket for the Travis Fulgham Hype Train, and I am ready to leave the station, full steam ahead. I know he can do it.