By Published: March 1, 2014

Green Bay Packer David Bakhtiari on the field

Green Bay Packer David Bakhtiari proves himself out on the field.

When David Bakhtiari (Comm ex’13) was drafted by the Green Bay Packers last year, he was elated.

And while rookies often spend time on the bench while they learn the intricacies of the pro game, he promised himself he’d do everything he could to become a starter.

That opportunity came faster than expected after veteran left tackle Bryan Bulaga went down in a pre-season scrimmage with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Bakhtiari, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 300 pounds, filled in for Bulaga and hardly missed a beat.

“I honestly didn’t think it would happen this fast,” says Bakhtiari, who left CU-Boulder after his junior year when the Buffs were 1-11. “I figured if I got the chance to start, I’d probably be playing right tackle and then graduate over to the left side.”

“But I’ve always been hungry,” he says. “I came in to compete for a starting job. I don’t want to be seen as really good for a rookie. I want to be really good for a left tackle in the NFL.”

A San Francisco Bay Area native, Bakhtiari started all the games this season at left tackle — protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side — and impressed coaches with his ability and confidence.

“Being a young guy, a junior coming out, he was very mature and studious,” says offensive line coach James Campen. “I think that’s helped him progress from the very minute that we put him into a position to win a starting job. He learns from his mistakes; he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He’s always a guy that’s giving the maximum.”

Bakhtiari says being drafted by the Packers was a best-case scenario for him.

“Team-wise, I think I fit the Packers scheme really well,” he says. “It’s a top-notch organization where everyone does his job at the highest level.”

The Packers’ season ended this year when the team lost 23-20 in the NFL first round playoffs Jan. 5 to the San Francsico 49ers.

In many of the practices, Bakhtiari had to block Clay Matthews, arguably the best linebacker in the NFL.

“It was awesome,” Bakhtiari says. “He’s a hell of a player. The chance to go against him has made me that much better and prepared me to take on other elite rushers.”

Bakhtiari called it an “honor” to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ left side.

“That’s one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do in my career as a football player,” he says. “It’s a huge responsibility. They expect me to take care of him.”

And while he wishes his teams at CU had won more games, especially during the bleak 2012 season, he has fond memories of Boulder.

“I really enjoyed my time at CU,” says Bakhtiari, who visited Boulder during a September bye week. “Going to school there helped me to grow to where I am today.”

Photography by Matt Becker/Green Bay Packers