Fulton Ready to Transform Overseas Success

For some, the journey to an NFL career is a windy and bumpy road. Former Sun Devil Skyler Fulton has already been with three teams in two years, and due to injuries has yet to play. His latest team, the Seattle Seahawks, wanted to see him in action and allocated him to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. To say that the WR took full advantage of this opportunity would be an understatement.

Skyler Fulton was Arizona State's offensive player of the year in 2003. That season he collected 62 receptions for 901 yards and ten touchdowns. He was signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts in 2004 but was one of the last cuts in that year's pre-season. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings in the last week of the 2004 regular season, just to be released in August of the next year due to injury. His hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, signed him last January and gave him an NFL Europe assignment. Ironically, it was an appointment that he wasn't too thrilled about initially .

"I had a choice to stay with the Seahawks and work out in the off-season or go to Europe," said Fulton who was an All-Pac10 Academic selection his junior and senior seasons. "I had the same choice with the Vikings last year, but I opted to stay because I was finishing up my Master's degree at Arizona State. Honestly, at first I really didn't want to go there – that's why it took me three years to finally get over there (laughs). This year it was a no-brainer. I really hadn't played in three years because I was hurt. I just wanted to go there and play."

Not only did he play, but the wide receiver quickly became one of the league's instant stars. Fulton paced the league in yards (992) and receptions (53) , and was second in touchdowns with seven. The Admirals went 7-2, and lost last Sunday in the World Bowl to the Frankfurt Galaxy. "It was a blessing," remarked Fulton on his experience overseas. "I really enjoyed my team and the organization. I had a great experience. I really improved my overall game and proved to people that I can make big plays and get behind defenses. People were questioning my ability to do that. "

It's natural for avid football fans to look down on NFL Europe and belittle the level of talent and play there. The wide receiver claimed that the similarities to the big league are much more prevalent than folks may think. "The game wasn't really that different from the NFL," commented Fulton. "The referees are still learning, so I guess that was different (smile). But player wise, all those players were NFL caliber. Just like me, they were maybe injured and didn't get to play in the NFL or played in the NFL for two, three years and came to NFL Europe to work on certain aspects of their game."

While the adjustments on the field may have been more subtle than expected, the same cannot be said for life away from the gridiron in a foreign country. "We had a hard time getting good American food, but I'm not complaining – I got three square meals everyday (smile)," quipped Fulton. "We adjusted and never went hungry. We got some American T.V. shows here and there. With the Internet, we all had the ability to talk to our families back home and obviously email them too. It was easy to stay in touch, but the time difference was probably the hardest thing. We always had to talk either really early or real late because people were at work or school."

Our interview found Fulton in Birmingham, Ala., where he and the rest of the NFL Europe players who were allocated from NFL teams, have to go through physical exams before they can return to their respective squads. The former Sun Devil told us he was anxious to see his family again, especially its newest addition. "My son was born last Christmas," he said. "When I left he was month and half and now he's five months old. So obviously he has changed a lot."

Fulton is a religious person, and ironically he lived near one of the most seediest cities in the world. Naturally, he kept his distance. "Amsterdam is a very liberal city, that's for sure," he said. "If you want to get into trouble, it's definitely out there. We stayed 20 minutes out of Amsterdam, so I really didn't have any leisure activities in the city and aside from playing there, I really didn't go into the city that many times."

The wide receiver was honored to wear the maroon and gold, and his feelings towards his alma mater definitely epitomize the saying ‘Once a Sun Devil - always a Sun Devil.' "I loved my years at ASU," recalled Fulton. "I check up on them on the Internet all the time and see how they're doing. I keep in touch with guys like Shaun McDonald, Derek Hagan and Terry Richardson. My time over there was unbelievable and I made a lot of friends. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world."

In a couple of days or so, Fulton, who went to high school in Olympia, Wash. will fly to his familiar surroundings in Seattle and try to carry his momentum from playing overseas and make a name for himself with the Seahawks. "I'm feeling like I have to start from scratch," he admitted. "The team may be aware of what I did because they have game film on me now, but I need to do here what I did over there – prove to people that I can play. It's nice that they have tape on me, but the NFL is always about ‘what have you done for me lately?' What I did in NFL Europe was great, but if I don't do the same in Seattle, then that experience hasn't done anything for me."

"It's nice to go somewhere where you know the city," continued Fulton, "live close to the family and live in a place where it's easier to plug into the community and do things I really enjoy like helping out kids. It's an added bonus."

Based on his very limited NFL experience, some may find Fulton's accomplishments in Europe shocking. The wide receiver looks back on his experience as a realization of what he knew in his heart all along. "I wasn't surprised," he said. "Ever since I was in college, and after I left college too, I always felt that if I was going to get on the field that I was gonna produce. That's what happened every game, except in the World Bowl where my hamstring tightened up. I always knew if I'm out there, I'll be fine."

If the momentum wave carries him through the Seahawks' training camp next month, Fulton will prove that his NFL Europe wasn't a flash in the pan, but rather a prelude to a successful pro career.

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