Tayo Fabuluje (pronounced Fab-uh-loo-jay), who was born in Nigeria before moving to the U.S. as an infant, fielded some questions from the media earlier today and we have some of the highlights from that teleconference.
The first question was about managing his weight (353 pounds at the combine) and what he thinks his ideal playing weight is.
"You don't spend as much time as people would think thinking about it. It was just some minor changes I had to change in order to keep my weight down. I just had to make some changes in my diet. After I've done that, it's been easy to maintain it. It definitely makes me a better player playing at a lighter weight. I can play anywhere from 330 where I am right now or I can play down at 315 or 310 if that's what the team wants me to do. It's just a matter of what the coach feels best. I feel like I can move and I'm still strong even if I'm at 310, 315 as I am at 330. Anywhere between that, I feel like I can play at a very high level."
The follow up question wanted to know specifically what he was changing in his diet.
"Just cutting out all the bad foods. Especially in Texas, there's a lot of bad food around. Deep fried this, sweet tea that. You just have to cut out all that stuff, be more disciplined. I cut out juices and sodas, drink more water. Cut out fatty foods, eat more vegetables. Stuff like that. Things that any athlete that wants to be the best at what he does, has to do. That was just the changes I had to make."
Fabuluje's story to get to this point in his life is pretty incredible, you can read all about it right here.
On working three jobs the year he wasn't playing football and why.
"I was working three jobs. I was working at Michael Kors. I was working at Sprint, selling phones and I was working at Champs Sports. I worked those three jobs because I knew had to help out and support my sister, who was in a hard time with my mom going away to have to do some time and all that type of stuff. She had trouble finding work. I just had to do that to keep my family afloat. It was just something I had to do. By going back to Utah I was able to again stay with my guardian family who I stayed with in high school when I moved to Utah. They were able to support me while I was able to support my sister."
He was asked how long football has been a dream.
"All my life. When I was younger, I remember my dad and me watching a lot of Cowboys' games at our cousins' and uncles' houses. I used to see how emotional they used to get over the game. They'd get into arguments and all types of stuff. After doing that enough, I decided wanted to try and play football. I was a basketball player. Basketball is my first love and I got into football and I just fell in love with it. Over time, I knew it was something I wanted to do for a very long time."
The 6'6" Fabuluje was asked when he hit his growth spurt.
"I had a crazy growth spurt between eighth grade in junior high and my senior year in high school. My eighth grade year, I would say I was like 5-9, 5-10. Over that summer, I grew to 6-1. Between my freshman year and my sophomore year I grew from 6-1 to about 6-3. Between my sophomore and junior year I went up to about 6-5. My senior I sprouted up to 6-6. It was just crazy. Every time I came back, my coaches were like, ‘what are you eating?!' and asked my mom, ‘what are you feeding him because he just keeps coming back bigger every time?' When I was playing basketball, I wasn't 6-6, but I wish I was. It would've made things a whole lot easier."
He played tackle in college so he was asked about the types of edge rushers he's faced.
"I've faced all kinds of edge rushers. I've faced speedy guys, I went against Eric Striker (Oklahoma), Eli Harold at Virginia; I've handled those guys well. I've been against power guys like Margus Hunt (SMU), Shawn Oakman (Baylor); I've handled those guys well. I've been against every type of rusher a person can put out there. I've handled myself well. I'm ready for anything, but I know guys in the NFL guys are always going to be bigger and faster and stronger. I just plan on developing my game and enable to raise my level to the level of that, so I can handle those guys too."
Draft day is obviously an emotional time, so he was asked about that.
"It's a dream come true. I couldn't help but break down into tears when I heard the news. It's just a day at one point I didn't see coming. I didn't think it could happen for me, with the bad things that were going on in my life. Like I said, I told people before, you lose sight of the good things in life when you're down and you're struggling and you're trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Being in this position today, to be a Chicago Bear, is just a dream come true. I don't think anybody can write this up. This is something that's God given and it's just a blessing and amazing and I don't have words that can explain how I feel today. I'm just truly blessed and thankful for the Chicago Bears organization and all the good people that have been around me helping me get here to where I am today."
And he was asked who he was with during the draft.
"I'm here with 2 of... They're like my brothers: Jordan Johnson, he plays corner at BYU now and I'm with Adam Hogan - he used to play and he's about to be a marine. I'm with my sister who's been with me through it all. Through thick and thin. Through it all. I'm able to experience it with them. I've got all my other people who've been there for me calling me from different places, calling me, congratulating me, crying; it's just amazing."
The media wanted to know who from the Bears contacted him.
"I heard from John Fox, Coach John Fox. He just told me one of the first things they're going to do when I get there is throw me on a scale and we all got a good laugh out of that. I'm not worried about it, like I said I got my weight in check and I'm just ecstatic to get started."
Here's his response to how old his sister is and what was the biggest struggle in his life.
"My sister is older than me. She's actually four years older than me. The hardest thing I've been through is to have to see my mom give up her freedom to try to make ends meet for me and my sister and having to deal with that and overcome that obstacle and continue to persevere and stay on a positive track in life because there have been millions of negative avenues I could have took and for whatever reason I knew my mom wouldn't have wanted me to do this. My mom always wanted me to continue forward as she does. My momma's a fighter, my momma has a heart of a lion and I'm glad she passed that on to me to where I can overcome anything and I feel like I can persevere through anything. Just having to see my mom go sacrifice her freedom so me and my sister can be successful in life is just the hardest thing you have to do when you're a kid and there's not much you can do. I'm planning on doing anything I can and making sure she never has to do that again."
They wanted to know why his mother was in prison.
"My dad was deported at five and my mom struggled to make ends meet and she got into a lot of petty theft. Over time, petty theft - every time it progresses and you get in more and more trouble - the consequences get bigger so that's why she had to go away. Petty theft. It's not - it's not nothing - it's just not anything super crazy. That's what she felt she had to do in order to make ends meet for our family. She never worked, our dad provided everything. When he was taken out of our lives, she was a deer in the headlights. She didn't know what to do and she got around some bad people who steered her down the wrong path. Everything she's ever done was only to help our family; to help us succeed. That's how she's having to do time."
He's hoping his mother will be paroled in September, but there's no definite date at this time. He was asked if he will have contact with her or if she will know that he got drafted.
"Yeah, I'll definitely write her and let her know. I don't know if she is going to know instantly or anything like that but I'll definitely make sure she knows."
Fabuluje was asked his time line after high school.
"My freshman year, fresh out of high school, I was at BYU. I enrolled in June 2010. I left BYU in January of 2011. Then I ended up going back to BYU in the summer - August 2013. Then I came back to TCU January 2014. And I finished my career at TCU."
He spoke about if he has any contact with his father.
"Not really. He gets a little message through every now [and then] and once in a blue moon it'll get to my sister and she'll relay it to me. But as far as any consistent contact, no."
And he talked a little more about his mother.
"She actually grew up in Gary, Indiana, not too far from Chicago, so she is very familiar with the area. I know she'll be happy to know I'm in Chicago."
Earlier in the conference call he mentioned that his dad was deported and here's why.
"My dad was deported from what I know - I was young at the time - he worked at a freight-line company. He worked there for 12 years and he slowly worked his way up in the chain-of-command. He became like the truck coordinator and he began setting up these thefts on trucks. He was deported for that. But I was young and that's just only what I know from what I've been told. That's why he was deported."
Someone wanted to know about his skills on the basketball court.
"Oh man, I had it all. I had a nice little mid-range and I had the inside game. I would crash the boards. I did a little bit of everything. I was just a baller out there. I was just out there doing my thing, having fun. It's been so long that I've been on a court since Coach Patterson (TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson), he don't play that. If you're on a basketball court, then you in trouble. So I haven't been on a basketball court in a while but I'm sure if I ever had time to go back out there I would pick it back up pretty quick."
And that's a wrap...