First published in the May 7 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
Glendale native Greg Dulcich, a former All-Pac-12 standout at UCLA, was selected last week in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft in Las Vegas.
Dulcich said he was “fired up” at the prospect of joining the Broncos when he held his initial press conference after the team made him its third-round draft choice with the 80th overall selection.
“I couldn’t be more excited about being a member of the Broncos organization,” Dulcich said last Tuesday. “I know it’s the perfect fit. The team and staff are so awesome and we’re going to be very successful, so I can’t wait to get started.”
A 2018 graduate of St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, Dulcich walked on to the football team at UCLA, where he caught 42 passes — and apparently the eyes of Broncos’ scouts — during the Bruins’ 2021 season. He had 725 yards receiving and five touchdowns as the Bruins finished with an 8-4 record and qualified for the Holiday Bowl. His 17.3 yards-per-catch average was particularly head-turning and earned him a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team.
He paid his own way to Westwood for his first two years as a Bruin until March 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic getting the nation’s full attention, Dulcich received a special phone call from UCLA head coach Chip Kelly on March 26 of that year — the player’s birthday. An enthusiastic, yet virtual, celebration ensued.
Few, if any, who are familiar with Dulcich were startled by his success at the collegiate level. While a junior at St. Francis, he made 30 catches for 406 yards and four touchdowns. Dulcich caught 50 passes — and the attention of recruiters — during his senior year, gaining 1,168 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns on pass receptions and another three TDs while running the football. He proved his durability by recording 21 tackles on defense. That season, the Golden Knights advanced to the 2017 CIF Division 3 championship game — the school’s first in 53 years — where they suffered a heartbreaking 44-42 defeat.
The selection of Dulcich bolsters an association between the Broncos, La Cañada, St. Francis and its late football coach, the iconic Jim Bonds.
“Hey, Coach Bonds would be proud, wouldn’t he?” Broncos General Manager George Paton — a La Cañada native — told Dulcich after announcing the selection.
Paton grew up in La Cañada and attended La Cañada High School for one year before transferring to Loyola High — a rival to St. Francis — in Los Angeles. He played collegiately at UCLA and roomed there with Bonds, who died in October 2020 after a long tenure as head coach at St. Francis, where he coached Dulcich.
Paton has been an executive in the NFL since 1997 and was named general manager of the Broncos in January 2021.
During its draft coverage last Friday, ESPN commentator and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard quoted UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, who said Dulcich’s work ethic is “off the charts” when the selection was announced.
Paton said that the position of tight end was a priority and said the Broncos were looking for players with exemplary character. The Broncos included starting tight end Noah Fant in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks that brought Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver.
Paton also acknowledged it was “pretty cool” to select Dulcich and pay tribute to Bonds, whom Paton called his “best friend.”
“I get a little emotional just thinking about it,” Paton said. “Jimmy was with us both. Greg will be here every day and I will think about [Bonds] every time I see him.”
The son of Glendale’s Anna and George Dulcich, Greg has an older brother, George Jr., and two sisters, Eva and Madeline. George Jr. preceded Greg at St. Francis and also played football for the Golden Knights.
Dulcich watched last Friday’s draft at home with his family and friends.