Houston Texans: Cullen Gillaspia is a Bum Phillips kind of player

Cullen Gillaspia, Houston Texans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Cullen Gillaspia, Houston Texans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have a throwback leader in Cullen Gillaspia.

The Houston Texans selected a fullback with their seventh-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Fullback is a position that is not used so much anymore in the modern NFL. Some teams don’t even have one on the roster. On top of that, the Texans don’t use one that much in their offense.

Yet, Bill O’Brien obviously saw something in Cullen Gillaspia. At 6-2, 235 pounds with 4.5 speed, he was an excellent special teams player. At Texas A&M he was known as the 12th Man. The 12th Man, as explained by the team’s official website, is a walk-on special teams player for the Aggies given to a player who represents the university’s entire student body. Gillaspia served as the 12th Man in every game from 2016-18.

He tied the Aggies record for most games played as the 12th Man. As a junior, Gillaspia was also named a team captain. Originally from Katy, TX, he made the team as a walk-on and played linebacker for three years.

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When Jimbo Fisher took over as coach, he moved Gillaspia to fullback in his new pro-style offense and he started every game for him. His ledger in 2018 was not terribly impressive with 33 yards on five carries and catching only five passes for 52 yards.

He was better known for his score in the Aggie’s Gator Bowl when he ran one in from 13 yards out in their 52-13 win over NC State. This marked the first time a 12th Man ever scored an offensive touchdown in school history.

Cullen Gillaspia gives the Houston Texans a player Bum Phillips would love.

As a pro with the Texans, he played only 12 snaps on offense during the regular season but appeared in most of their plays on special teams. Gillaspia is best remembered in their AFC Wild Card game when he made a block that allowed Deshaun Watson to score a touchdown which led to a 22-19 win in overtime over the Buffalo Bills.

Legendary Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips once said you can’t have a team full of superstars. You have to have some team players. His example of a great team player was a reference to a jack-of-all-trades player for him named Guido Merkins.

Merkins played quarterback, receiver, on special teams as a kick and punt returner, defensive back and punter for Phillips at both Houston and New Orleans for nine years.

O’Brien has a similar attitude. Over the last year, he has dumped two stars in Jadeveon Clowney and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in favor of lower-profile players.

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Gillaspia may not be a versatile as Guido but he proved to be a bargain in that he can play fullback, H-back, tight end, special teams and could serve as an emergency linebacker if needed. Gillaspia is tough, hard-nosed and ferocious — the ultimate team player and a Bum Phillips kind of guy.