Houston Texans: Cullen Gillaspia is a versatile ball hawk for special teams

Houston Texans fullback Cullen Gillaspia (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Houston Texans fullback Cullen Gillaspia (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have selected Cullen Gillaspia 220th overall in the 7th round of the NFL Draft. What’s his specialty? It’s a doozy so let’s take a look.

The Houston Texans finished out the NFL Draft with their final pick in the 7th round this season by selecting Cullen Gillaspia, a fullback out of Texas A&M, 220th overall.  In step with the theme of this season’s draft, the Houston Texans are actually fulfilling a need on the roster that actually has a vacant spot.

Last season was the first in quite some time that the team did not have a full-time full back on the roster when the team decided to cut ties with Jay Prosch.  I was beginning to wonder if it was the end of an era of this team having a fullback on the roster but with this draft selection, it goes to show that they aren’t.

However, there’s a twist to this as Gillaspia is extremely versatile and can play multiple positions.  This certainly warranted a look by the franchise; and, as a result, he’s now got an opportunity to make an NFL roster.  He did visit with the team recently and he said one of the highlights was being able to meet Brian Cushing.  Now, he’ll be seeing him on a daily basis as he’ll be working with him to keep him properly conditioned through the season.

What’s up with Gillaspia?  Let’s dig into this.


Gillaspia is a 6-foot-2, 235-pound fullback with 30.75-inch arms and 9.2-inch hands, is a speedster, being able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds at the Texas A&M Pro Day.

A native of Katy, he went to Taylor High, Gillaspia was an all-district linebacker/return specialist that entered the Aggies’ football program as a walk-on back in 2014.  The rest has been history for Cullen, as he became the Aggies’ 12th Man, a tradition rich in history that he owned for 38 consecutive games from 2016-18.  He fulfilled the position admirably, exuding leadership and doing whatever was asked out of the coaching staff.

After long-time head coach Kevin Sumlin was ousted, incoming coach Jimbo Fisher transitioned him to fullback over the Spring and it yielded positive results.

He caught five balls for 52 yards and rushed five times for 33 yards while posting two solo tackles on special teams of which one was on then-No. 14 Kentucky’s 10-yard line, when the teams faced each other back Oct. 6.  The Aggies pulled out a gritty victory over the Wildcats 20-14 in overtime.

He was also the chief blocker for running back Trayveon Williams — who was selected in the 6th round by the Cincinnati Bengals today — while on his way to rushing for 1,760 yards, an A&M Football record.

Gillaspia finished up his campaign in College Station with 25 tackles, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two blocked kicks.

He also was a two-sport athlete back in high school, not only taking on football but excelled at baseball as well.  Those skills will be useful as he transitions his career to the pros.

Cullen also made history for his school, being the first 12th Man to ever be drafted to the NFL.  I know he, as well as all of those in Aggieland/Katy, are extremely proud of his near-improbable story.

What the experts are saying

Kent Lee Platte, who has seemed to have graded all of the Houston Texans’ prospects:

Robert Land of the Houston Sports Talk Podcast:

John McClain of the Chron:

Aaron Reiss of The Athletic:

The Bottom Line

I’m sure the Houston Texans could’ve addressed other needs for the 7th round but I think Gillaspia

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could be a valuable asset with his speed, versatility, his ability to make plays as well as his leadership.  He’s got a compelling story to tell and I’m sure it will inspire many, especially his future teammates.

Bill O’Brien wants him to start out at full back immediately and help out on special teams so he already has an idea of how Gillaspia will fit in this system.  Yes, the team could’ve addressed the running back and safety positions but they’ll be able to address those needs hopefully with the undrafted free agents.

All in all, I’m okay with this pick as I’m positive he’s going to surprise us all with his performance.  He wasn’t necessarily the pedigreed athlete but got to where he is today through grit, sweat, strain and even tears.

Plus, with the departure of Alfred Blue to the Jacksonville Jaguars, there’s a spot open for a third back behind Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman.  If Gillaspia plays his cards right, he could be that guy and it seems the Houston Texans fully expect him to.

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Gillaspia’s — similar to Lonnie Johnson‘s — is the type of success story that one most root for.  We’ll have to see how he does in camp!

Welcome back home Cullen.