Some of Davis Tull's motivation through his college football career came from the fact that an injury his senior season caused him to be passed over for scholarship offers.
That motivation led him to a standout career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in which he finished with 37 sacks, three Southern Conference defensive player of the year honors and three Football Championship Subdivision All-America selections.
His next honor? Hearing his name as a NFL draftee.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Tull was a fifth-round selection of the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, with the 148th overall pick. He becomes the first Mocs player selected in the draft since quarterback B.J. Coleman was picked in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, a year after defensive back Buster Skrine was picked in the fifth round.
Fellow defensive lineman Derrick Lott went undrafted but later signed a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans. He had projected to be a late-round selection and spent the latter part of the seventh round as the top player available according to ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper.
"Everybody especially my Tennessee fans TITAN UP!!!! Let's rock I'm going to be a Titan!" Lott wrote on his Twitter page Saturday evening. The former Georgia Bulldog finished with six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss during the 2014 season, earning first-team All-SoCon honors despite not starting a game for the 10-4 Mocs.
Tull was in contact with the Saints at the NFL combine. Saints representatives later traveled to UTC before Tull traveled to New Orleans for another visit. It was then that he met with linebackers coach Joe Vitt, who was very high on the way the soon-to-be converted defensive end played.
"I felt like that went pretty well," Tull told NFL.com on Saturday. "It was one of my favorite visits, so I'm super excited to be a Saint."
NFL.com said no player played more intensely snap to snap than Tull, who said that he felt he was going to be fully healed from a torn labrum that required surgery.
"I feel like I owe it to the people and my teammates, that I need to play as hard as I can, and I always try to do that," Tull said. "We were just talking about losing scholarships in high school and having a broken leg and having people not believe in you, and having that chip, you always want to prove other people wrong. I think that's where most of this comes from."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.