Patriots longshot FB Develin never gave up

The fullback with the Ivy League engineering degree wouldn’t be

stopped.

James Develin kept moving his legs after being knocked back on

his leap with the ball at the 1. More than half the defenders hit

him. None could keep him from scoring.

The play that began at the left hash mark ended about halfway to

the left sideline. That’s where Develin finally fell into the end

zone for a touchdown for the New England Patriots.

The long shot to play in the NFL never gave up.

”Getting your number called and knowing that you’re that close

and then finally plunging in there like I did, that was something

that I’ll never forget,” Develin said. ”It was just an incredible

experience.”

His touchdown early in the third quarter cut the deficit to

17-14 and the Patriots (9-3) went on to beat the Houston Texans

34-31 last Sunday.

”I had to make the most of the opportunity that I was given

because if I didn’t,” he said, ”then I probably wouldn’t get it

again.”

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Develin was a defensive end at Brown,

then played in the Arena Football League and the United Football

League.

”I knew my road to the NFL was going to be a tough one, so I

wanted to be versatile,” he said about his move to fullback.

”When I got in the UFL I finally made the switch.”

It was hardly an instant success.

Develin spent the last five games in 2010 and the regular and

postseason in 2011 on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad. The

Patriots signed him to their practice squad eight days before the

2012 opener and he played one game that season.

But this year he has played in all 12 games, primarily on

special teams and as a blocker.

”He’s done a good job of executing his role, whether it’s been

offensively or in the kicking game or even as it relates to the

scout team in practice,” coach Bill Belichick said. His offensive

role has ”actually expanded a little bit. I don’t think he’s ever

going to be out there for every play offensively. That’s not his

role.”

Develin’s favorite role?

Hitting people, whether it’s on special teams or at the goal

line.

Playing defense gave him ”a little bit of that tenacity, a

little bit of that mentality,” he said. ”You’ve got to be kind of

like a controlled animal on defense so I’ve always liked that

mentality on defense so I try to bring that to my game. …

Fullback really allows me to do that because your No. 1 job is to

go out there and hit people.”

But so many people on just one play, a play that resulted in his

first NFL touchdown?

”He gives everybody confidence that he can do those things,”

quarterback Tom Brady said. ”Then when you give (the ball) to him

and you see a fourth or fifth effort on a score, you want to give

the guy more opportunities.

”He really brings the element of toughness to the team. That’s

one spot, too, specifically, where the fullback, that’s what that

job is. It’s a very selfless position. You’re not going to get a

lot of carries or catches. It’s really about springing holes for

other people.”

Develin’s touchdown came on just the second carry of his career.

He has only three receptions.

So did he do a double-take when a play was called for him to get

the ball?

”A little bit,” he said. ”It’s not too often that a fullback

gets their number called.”

Especially one from a school that sends few players to the NFL.

But that’s what Develin wanted, even if he has that engineering

degree.

”Football is something that’s not around your entire life,” he

said. ”I have that degree in my back pocket and that’ll be there

with me until the day I die. So I knew that if I didn’t give it my

best shot to try and play football as a career, I’d always regret

it.

”So I think I took a little bit of a risk and, luckily, it

worked out.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org