New Buccaneers special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes has been groomed to replace Rich Bisaccia, and has been on Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris' radar for years.
Losing special teams guru Rich Bisaccia to San Diego this offseason would really hurt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if not for the fact that he groomed his replacement in Dwayne Stukes.
After spending the 2006-07 season as a coaches assistant with the Bucs, Stukes was promoted to a special teams quality control coaching position in 2008 where he spent even more time with Bisaccia learning the intricacies of special teams play and breaking down opponents’ game film. During that year, rookie Clifton Smith emerged as a Pro Bowl kick and punt returner and Tampa Bay’s return game was one of the best in the NFL.
Over the past two years, Stukes, who was a former reserve safety and special teamer for the Buccaneers, served as an assistant defensive backs coach to Joe Baker (2009) and Jimmy Lake (2010), while still helping out Bisaccia during the special teams portion of practice. Bisaccia lauded Stukes’ work ethic.
“I lost him a little bit over the last year or so,” Bisaccia said. “He grew so much that he grew himself into a DBs coach. He played a little bit of DB for us a while back. Dewayne has been working with the secondary this year and I know he has had a lot to do with the safeties. He’s concentrated a lot on defense. We’re all real proud of Dewayne. He came through the Bucs system as a player. Then he did whatever he could to become a coach for us. He was in the World League and then was an intern for us. He hasn’t really made any money doing this. He’s getting older on the job, but we’re all really proud of him. He’s a tremendous worker and a tireless effort guy. I know I can always count on him.”
With Bisaccia’s departure, the Bucs will now be counting on Stukes to run Tampa Bay’s special teams as effectively as the man who has been coordinating all facets of the kicking game since 2002. Former Bucs special teams standout Will Allen, who was Tampa Bay’s first-ever special teams captain in 2008, was just as fired up playing for Stukes as he was for Bisaccia, which is a testament to how the players respected the 33-year old assistant.
“Guys want to play for both Rich and for Stukes,” Allen said. “As a coach, you have to want to get your guys to want to play for you. Rich individually challenges every player by setting up players to be successful. Whenever you do that and challenge a player personally, they’ll get up for you. Dwayne does a great job with the scouting. Whatever Rich can’t do because of his other duties Dwayne picks up for him and does a great job. The combination of those two guys worked real well.
“With Dwayne, he had to learn the ins and outs of special teams from Rich. Everybody has to learn and be an apprentice at some point before you can take over the helm. You can see that Dwayne is going to be a great coach. In some ways he already is.”
Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris, who coached Stukes in 2002-03 when he was on the practice squad and Morris was Mike Tomlin’s quality control coach, could see that he had special traits years ago. When Morris was Tampa Bay’s defensive backs coach in 2007, he saw that Stukes was a young, high-energy coach on the rise, just like he was five years earlier.
“Dewayne Stukes is a steal for me,” Morris said back in 2007. “He’s Bisaccia’s assistant, but when it’s not a special teams period, Stukes is in my meetings. Stukes has been on the practice squad. He’s been active for a few games. He’s heard it from Mike Tomlin and he’s heard it from me. I used to be the young voice around here. Now I’m getting old. Now we have Stukes to help us, too. He’s a real up-and-comer.”
Five years later, Morris’ belief in Stukes has grown to the point where he is comfortable enough to have him replace Bisaccia. Don’t expect Tampa Bay’s special teams to miss a beat.Stukes’ playing career
Atlanta Falcons (2000)
Berlin Thunder (2001)
Pittsburgh Steelers (2001)
Berlin Thunder (2002)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-03)
Colorado Crush (2004)Stukes’ coaching career
Berlin Thunder (2006) - Assistant defensive backs coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-07) – Coaches assistant
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2008) – Special teams quality control coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-10) – Assistant defensive backs coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011) – Special teams coordinator
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