Summer 2024

Colts' DeForest Buckner gets baptized: 'Today I surrendered my whole self to Jesus'

Seeking to improve a defense that ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed last year, the Indianapolis Colts made a big offseason move in March by trading their first-round pick (No. 13 overall) to the San Francisco 49ers for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. The Colts further showed their esteem for Buckner by immediately signing him to a four-year contract extension that made him one of the NFL’s highest-paid defensive linemen.

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The move appears to be paying off for the Colts. Through six games, Buckner leads the team with 13 QB hits (he had 14 all of last season) and four tackles for loss — including 2.5 sacks, one of which went for a safety in Week 2 against the Vikings.

Buckner’s pressure on quarterbacks has helped the Colts defense to move from 23rd in passing yards allowed to first; they’ve given up just 199.7 passing yards a game through six weeks. And the D ranks third in the NFL in total yards allowed (288.0), a category in which it finished 16th last year.

His best game as a Colt may have come on Sunday, when he posted five tackles, four QB hits and a sack as the Colts moved to 4-2 with a win over Cincinnati. They found themselves down 21-0 early in the second quarter before battling back for a 31-27 victory.

On Monday, Buckner’s great week continued. He was baptized at church as his wife Ashlyn, their young son Dominic, and some Colts teammates watched.

“Today I surrendered my whole self to Jesus and chose to trust Him with my life whole heartedly,” Buckner wrote on Instagram. “My walk with Christ is only beginning and I am grateful for the support surrounding my journey of Faith.”

Buckner also included the verse Titus 3:5, which says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Buckner talked about his faith with Sports Spectrum prior to Super Bowl LIV in February. He said his wife, whom he married in 2018, has been influential in his walk.

“One person that really helped me connect with my faith even more was my wife (Ashlyn),” Buckner said. “She really helped me connect with my faith a lot more.”

Ultimately, Buckner gave God the glory for where he’s at in his journey.

“You’ve got to put God first, man,” Buckner said. “Without Him, without His plan for me, I wouldn’t be here where I am today. I truly believe that. … Every day I give thanks because all my talent, all the things I’ve done in my life, all the glory goes to Him.”

At 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, Buckner was a big reason San Francisco rode its defense to Super Bowl LIV. He put up 7.5 sacks and 62 total tackles last season, one year after a Pro Bowl season in 2018 featuring 12.0 sacks and 67 total tackles. He compiled 28.5 sacks in four years with the 49ers before the trade.

Buckner looks to build on that on-field success as he continues to grow in his relationship with the Lord.

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