Although he didn’t hear his name called in the draft this weekend, Syrus Tuitele is headed to the NFL.
The former Fresno State right tackle signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent Saturday, less than an hour after the final pick was made in the 2021 NFL draft. Tuitele was the only Bulldog senior to enter the draft, with twelve seniors opting to return for their COVID-senior year.
Tuitele started all six games at right tackle for Fresno State in 2020, earning second team All-Mountain West honors and protecting the conference’s top offense. He also appeared and started in 20 games between his sophomore and junior seasons, in 2018 and 2019.
“From Day 1 at his home visit to his last season… it was an honor to coach ‘Big Sy,’ ” Fresno State offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said in a tweet. “Nothing but love for this young man… could not be more proud of him.”
“I know greatness awaits!!”
Buffalo quickly snapped up the 6-foot-5, 311-pound right tackle after drafting two other offensive tackles in the third and fifth round, and another offensive guard in the seventh round.
The Bills, who are committed to protecting Pro Bowl quarterback and Firebaugh native Josh Allen, signed Tuitele as the only offensive lineman in their undrafted free agent pool.
That group includes two former Mountain West players that Tuitele and the Bulldogs faced — former San Jose State wide receiver Tre Walker and San Diego State safety Tariq Thompson.
Mock drafts projected Tuitele as sitting on the edge between a 7th round draft pick and undrafted free agent. Even while ending up as the latter, Tuitele can look to past Fresno State offensive linemen who have carved out NFL careers without getting drafted.
Current New York Giants guard Kenny Wiggins, undrafted in 2011, has played in 79 games and started 38 in a 10-year career spanning five teams.
Wiggins is one of nine former Bulldogs currently playing in the NFL, a list that includes Derek Carr, Davante Adams, KeeSean Johnson, JuJu Hughes, Tyeler Davison and Charles Washington.
This is the third straight year that a Bulldog was drafted or signed on the last day of the NFL draft. Johnson went to the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. In the 2020 draft, Mykal Walker was drafted by Atlanta in the fourth round, and Netane Muti was drafted by Denver in the sixth.