Vandervelde Seeks Bulaga's Advice In Advance Of Draft

Julian Vandervelde sought input from his former teammate at Iowa in advance of the the NFL Combine

Draft prospect Julian Vandervelde sent a text message to Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga, his former teammate at Iowa, for some advice prior to the NFL Combine back in February.

"Just be yourself, don't get freaked out, they may ask you some weird stuff," said Vandervelde of the advice Bulaga gave him. "But at the end of the day, just do what you always do.

"They teach us at Iowa, we're trained to be composed, be poised, just stay cool."

Bulaga certainly has first-hand experience going down the road of becoming an NFL rookie and knows the ins and outs of the pre-draft process. But it's not as if Vandervelde needs pointers about being composed and poised.

The guard from Iowa knows all about performing on a big stage, and that has nothing to do with playing football in front of 70,585 fans at Kinnick Stadium on Saturdays.

The stereotype is that 6-2, 301 pound offensive linemen are hulking neanderthals, but Vandervelde borders on being a singing virtuoso.

How good is he?

Good enough to be asked to sing the national anthem for President Obama's March 25, 2010 appearance in Iowa City.

"I had a friend in high school," explains Vandervelde, "actually, we met through the theater department, so he knew I could sing through school musicals.

"He ended up working as part of the Obama administration up in Washington, and he was running the thing in Iowa. He gave me a call and was like, 'Hey, want to sing for the President?'

Vandervelde didn't need much arm twisting. He was even accompanied by Miss Iowa on violin.

It's almost hard to believe, but there was an event in the Iowa product's life that supercedes performing in front of the President of the United States.

"No offense to the President or anything, but the Little League World Series, that was something else," said Vandervelde. "Especially being a 12-year-old, having ESPN cameras on you and all that. It was definitely a world apart."

The Iowa prospect represented his native Davenport in the 2000 Little League World Series dwarfing most of his 12-year-old teammates while standing 6-2 and weighing 230 pounds.

Vandervelde admits they measured him with cleats on and was probably closer to 6-0, but the weight was accurate.

He played first base, pitched a little bit and was the team's slugger.

"I thought I was going to play professional baseball until I got to high school," said Vandervelde. "And then I got to high school and  freshman year I was playing linebacker, and I got hurt. And when I came back I gained like 60 pounds or something."

From that point on, it was all football for Vandervelde.

He would go onto being named second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media in 2010, and was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection as well.

Vandervelde is well prepared for a career outside football, but for now his focus is on grooming himself for the NFL where he can join his former teammate, Bulaga.

"I shot him a text and a picture message of me and a group of about eight friends all dressed up in Packer gear, hanging out after the Super Bowl," said Vandervelde. "A little congratulatory message for him."

That begged the question, is he fan of the Packers or just a fan of his friend?

"I'm a Packers fan," said Vandervelde. "I was a Packers fan long before Bryan got there, but I'm glad he's there, that's for sure."

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Comments (3)

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asshalo's picture

March 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm

That's cool to hear he's a packer fan-- there are a lot of them in eastern Iowa. I think he'd be a good late round steal or free agent pick-up. Though he only really started this last year for Iowa, he's filled in when other players were injured throughout his career. That's saying something because the Hawkeye's O-line was very deep in 2008 and 2009 and had VERY good production behind three different backs this last year.

Vandervelde also does a lot of Karaoke when he's back in Davenport. There's a youtube story on that somewhere.

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asshalo's picture

March 29, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I also really like Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos as a late round draft pick or an undrafted. He's a great return man with stats to back it up, a great route runner, and has a lot of on-field speed. He was open deep a lot. Sounds like the fifth WR to me. Only problem is he got busted for a drug house which was later reduce to marijuana possession. His roommate was doing the dealing but it didn't look good. That said, he doesn't blame anyone but himself and still speaks highly of Iowa.

Also don't overlook Christian Ballard who played both DE/DT at Iowa. I think he'd be a great fit as a 3-4 DE (6"5, 290). He's got a great motor, plays the run well and can rush. He's a possible 1st, 2nd or 3rd rounder. I like Clayborn too, but he seems like more of a 4-3 guy-- reminds more of Jarred Allen, play-wise, than any 3-4 guy.

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Chad Toporski's picture

March 30, 2011 at 06:18 am

Another great player spotlight, Brian.

As a music teacher, it thrills me to hear about guys like this who continue to keep music in their lives.

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