Texas A&M’s most famous 12th man became the Texans last man in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Growing up in Katy, Texas, Cullen Gillaspia was hoping he would get to play for his hometown team. On Saturday, he got his wish when the Texans selected the fullback and special teamer with their final 2019 draft pick in the seventh round (220th overall).
“I could not ask for a better situation,” Gillaspia said via conference call. “I talked to Brian Gaine and (special teams) Coach (Brad) Seely and the running backs coach (Danny Barrett) and all the staff and I said, ‘Hey I’m a hometown kid. I’ve been Houston Texans since Day 1. They were my favorite team growing up. I’ve seen everyone and this is where I want to be. Houston is home. I hope y’all pick me. This is where I want to be. Don’t make me go to a division rival and have to play against you all.’ I’m ecstatic to be here and I could not be happier to be a Houston Texan.”
After his selection, Gillaspia was congratulated by new teammate J.J. Watt, also a former walk-on at Wisconsin.
The Katy, Texas native was a walk-on in 2015 as a freshman at Texas A&M before being named the Aggies’ 12th Man. Gillaspia continued wearing the No. 12 jersey from 2016 through 2018, serving as a team captain for all 13 games in 2017. Under head coach Jimbo Fisher, Gillaspia also played fullback in 2018, serving as lead blocker for running back Trayveon Williams who rushed for a school record 1,760 yards.
Gillaspia becomes the first 12th Man to be drafted by an NFL team. Last December, he solidified himself in Aggie history as the first player wearing the heralded No. 12 jersey to score a touchdown when he did so on his last carry in the Texas A&M Gator Bowl win over NC State.
“Being the 12th Man at Texas A&M is an incredible honor,” Texans football analyst and sideline reporter John Harris said. “It’s one respected and valued by the entire university. But, this 12th Man grew into an excellent fullback and special teams star for the Aggies. Then, at his A&M Pro Day, he ran in the 4.5 range and that opened NFL eyes. That also got him an invite to the Texans local Pro Day and he again shined. He’s 6-1, 235 pounds with 4.5 speed and a desire to hit anything that moves and loves special teams. He’ll have a home in Houston.”
Gillaspia completed his A&M career with 25 tackles, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and two blocked kick in addition to five carries for 33 yards, one rushing touchdown and five receptions for 52 yards. Awarded the Special Teams Most Impactful Award last season, the fullback will also be contributing on special teams for Houston.
“We’ll start him off on offense as a fullback and he was an excellent special teams player there also,” head coach Bill O’Brien said. “Was a 12th Man at Texas A&M. I think everybody understands what that means there. Came to our local Pro Day. Our scouts did an awesome job getting him to our local Pro Day and we’re excited to be able to add him to our team.”