Rulon Davis may or may not make the final 53-man roster for the Denver Broncos. If he doesn't, though, it won't be because his work ethic, attitude or discipline are lacking.
That's because Davis, who our own Michael Silver featured before the draft, is a Marine. He joined out of high school, and was a Marine reserve while playing football at San Antonio Junior College. He racked up 16½ sacks as a freshman, and naturally, Pac-10 teams then smothered him with scholarship offers.
But he was a Marine, he got the call to go to Iraq, and he went. From Mike Klis's excellent article about Davis today in the Denver Post:
"I wanted to get back as soon as I possibly could to start playing football again," Davis said. "But I had to do my job. I signed the contract, and I like to honor my commitment."
Davis does not give specifics of his tour of duty. When asked, he politely asked to change the subject. Civilians who have never served can only understand they will never understand.
"It's tough," he said. "I think about it all the time."
After returning home, he played his last two seasons with Cal, and thought he was going to get drafted by some team last weekend. But it didn't happen, and the Broncos scooped him up as a free agent.
So here he is, a 25-year-old rookie with a world of experience. It's too early to say what his chances might be of making the team, but he played defensive end in a 3-4 at Cal, and will be asked to play the same position with Denver. The Broncos don't have an abundance of talent at the position, so that works in his favor. Head coach Josh McDaniels seems to like him, too.
"The way he speaks, he's very correct, proper," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. "He treats everybody with a great deal of respect. He listens, asks good questions. Sits up in his chair, always attentive, those types of things. You can tell he was brought up the right way."
I think we all wish him good luck in making the team. That's the least we can do for him.