Bud Dupree has come a long way to get to the Pittsburgh Steelers as the No. 22 overall draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Dupree was originally recruited by Georgia Tech to be a defensive end/linebacker hybrid for their program, but Dupree wasn't a defensive player. He was an athletic tight end, and he wanted to keep it that way. It was then Dupree turned to Kentucky as his school of choice. After all, it was there he could play tight end.
After committing to the Wildcats and showing up on campus, it didn't take long for the coaching staff to suggest the same thing Georgia Tech had suggested during the recruiting process -- ever think about playing defense?
"I was with the (starters) on offense," Dupree told Will Graves of AP. "Then all of a sudden I got switched? They asked me and I said no. The next week they asked me and I said no. They asked me again and I was thinking about transferring."
Clearly, Dupree stayed at Kentucky and finally realized his home in college football was going to be on the defensive side of the ball. It was then Dupree took the jersey No. 2, and made it clear why he was choosing the number.
"Work like you're No. 2, trying to be No. 1," he said.
Dupree tallied 23.5 sacks while at Kentucky, including 7.5 last season, and a large part of that was his athleticism and versatility combined with a tremendous work ethic. Dupree knows what it takes to prove doubters wrong, and he certainly has had those as he was labeled "raw" and a "project" by many experts coming out of the draft. Nonetheless, Dupree has something special working in his favor -- his intelligence.
"God blessed me with being a smart individual," the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker said when pressed on where his photographic memory comes from. "If I see it one time and I do it one time, I know it. I really don't have to study that much and I just stick with it. It's always been a gift I feel."
If Dupree is able to grasp the Steelers defense, there is no doubt he has the athleticism to make a contribution in 2015. Sometimes fate has a way of working itself out, and for Dupree the tight end turned linebacker it created a path to his future in the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers.