KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When you take a Vulcan in the NFL draft, there must be some logic associated with it, right?
Well, actually, this Vulcan – offensive lineman Eric Kush – isn’t the pointy-eared, green-blooded version seen on the old Star Trek series.
This Vulcan was a sixth-round pick by the Chiefs last weekend out of tiny California University of Pennsylvania, a Division II school, and he will be happy to fill you in on the history behind his school’s nickname and mascot.
“The Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and blacksmithing,” Kush said shortly after being selected by the Chiefs.
“Cal chose it because it’s a pretty cool mascot. It’s the Roman god of blacksmithing and fire and Zeus commissioned Vulcan, before he was Vulcan, to make Zeus his lightning bolts. Then after the lightning bolts were made so well, Zeus (anointed) the man the Vulcan – the god of blacksmithing and fire.”
Hmmm. Do they teach all of Cal’s athletes that little history lesson on mythology?
“Well, no, they really don’t,” Kush said. “That was something I was curious about myself and I had to look it up. They tell you what the Vulcan is, but I had to look it up and figure out how it all came to be and everything myself.”
Kush admits he tends to have a burning curiosity for such things – the origins and the reasons behind just about anything.
After all, he majored in criminal justice, and studied forensic science. Yep, after football, he may go all CSI on us.
“Or maybe I might try and get on one of those TV shows,” he said.
For now, though, he’ll try and make the Chiefs’ roster, long shot that it may be. But then again, his whole career has been a bit of a long shot.
“I grew up here in southwestern Pennsylvania and I’m just a blue-collar guy who grew up wrestling and playing football,” he said. “I wasn’t very big coming out of high school, so I ended up going to (California University-Pennsylvania) to focus on my education.
“I went into Cal and worked my butt off. I kept gaining weight and growing and that snowballed into getting an opportunity to play in the NFL.”
Kush weighed 245 pounds in high school and put on about 15 pounds each year in college. Now he weighs in at 308 pounds and is mobile enough to play anywhere on the line, though he has the most experience at center.
“My first opportunity to play at Cal was at tackle because the previous tackle had graduated,” Kush said. “I thought I did well at tackle, and the next season one of the seniors who played center graduated and we had a transfer from Ole Miss named Rashad Johnson who transferred into Cal to play guard.
“I thought my shot at playing in the NFL was going to be at center and not tackle, so I asked my coach, ‘Hey Coach, let me play center next to Rashad,’ and I think that’s what got all the attention from scouts and it just kept rolling.”
The Chiefs became interested a month or so ago and brought him to Kansas City for a visit.
“I went on a visit with Kansas City and I thought my meeting with everybody out there went really well,” he said. “We talked a lot about football, a lot about the offense that we ran at Cal and me explaining it to them. We talked about my life.
“I recently got married so we talked about my new wife (Stephanie) and everything like that. We just talked about how I grew up, things I like to do outside of football, and then we talked a lot of football and what the Chiefs were expecting out of me.”
Still, Kush wasn’t sure he would get the call from Kansas City.
“I was just waiting to see what happened and obviously I’m very, very excited,” he said. “To be able to be drafted is an honor and I’m going to play my butt off in Kansas City.”