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Walk-on linebacker Drew Kulick worked his way into a starting role for Colorado State, continues to impress coaches and teammates
Drew Kulick has caught the attention of everyone inside the Colorado State football program.
The redshirt freshman linebacker worked his way into the starting lineup for the spring game back in April and has refused to give up his spot on the field ever since.
“He’s done a really great job of doing the things that he’s asked to do,” Jay Norvell said of the walk-on linebacker out of Regis Jesuit High School (Aurora, Colo.).
As a result of Kulick’s breakout spring which was followed up by a nice fall camp, the local product managed to secure his spot as a starting linebacker on the first depth chart of the year. Even with Cam’Ron Carter answering the call and playing his way back into the good graces of the coaches, Kulick has stood out consistently enough to have earned the trust in the locker room.
“Linebacker is an area of need for us, we’re not very deep there,” Norvell said. “And we need to be more athletic there, so it’s an opportunity for Drew to show what he can do.”
Norvell continued, explaining that Kulick runs extremely well and has impressed with his accountability through the early stages of the season. That sentiment was matched by team captain and Kulick’s running mate at linebacker, Dequan Jackson.
Jackson, a fifth-year player at CSU that’s now played for three different staffs, emphasized Kulick’s commitment level and that for an inexperienced player, he’s proved to be completely bought in from the get-go.
“For being a young guy that didn’t really see the field much last year, he’s transitioned well,” Jackson said. “I watched him from the winter workouts to the spring, and all of those things, I think the biggest thing for him is that he’s focused on all of the things that the coaches have told us to focus on. He’s taken advantage of the fundamental time, and then he’s put in the extra time to study.”
Like his coach, Jackson expressed that Kulick possesses above-average athleticism and really moves well out on the field. But more than anything, the veteran linebacker emphasized that it’s been the mental preparation and extra commitment from Kulick that’s ultimately made the difference.
“Kudos to him for taking full responsibility, taking on that challenge and coming out on top,” Jackson said.
As we covered in fall camp, despite Kulick surpassing Carter on the depth chart, the other fifth-year linebacker will still be heavily featured on game day. As Jackson sees things, it’s only going to be a benefit for the Rams to have that rotation.
“Everybody is bought in, everybody is communicating, and there is no drop off when the next guy comes into the game,” Jackson said. “I’m excited to roll out there with Kulick and I know Cam will be rolling in there (too).”
Making his starting debut in the Big House against a veteran offensive unit is definitely a tough challenge, but Kulick, like he has for months, embraces the situation and is ready to face it head on.
“The expectation is to go out there and play football, that’s what we came here to do,” Kulick said.
His plan? Play fast and keep doing the things that have allowed him to make a strong impression.
While Kulick was a man of few words in his recent interview with DNVR, his maturity is easy to see. He’s not interested in talking about being looked over as a high school prospect, or anything like that. The young linebacker is just eager to go out and play.
His head coach is eager to watch him play as well.
“I’m really excited to watch him play this fall,” Norvell said. “He’s certainly a guy that has made the most out of his opportunity so far. And now, we’re going to need him to play solid football for us going into the season. So we’re excited about Drew. I think we have a lot of opportunistic guys on defense that have a chance to take advantage of their opportunity to play. Drew is certainly one of those guys.”
Any time that a walk-on, particularly a local one, is able to play his way onto the field, it’s always going to be a neat story. If Kulick can play well this season though, it truly could be one of the cooler storylines of the 2022 season.