Bucs rookie safety Ahmad Black has a goal to win a starting job this training camp. Black also talks about why he didn’t attend the Bucs player-organized workout in June.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Ahmad Black is training hard in preparation for his first NFL season. The fifth-round pick Black grew up in Lakeland, Florida and has been a die-hard Bucs fan his entire life. After having a dream come true in being able to play for Tampa Bay, Black is excited to get started and has lofty goals for his first training camp.
“I want to try to get a starting spot, but if not, then a significant role on the team,” said Black. “I really just can’t wait to get in there and do my thing.“
Since the draft, Black has been training in Lakeland and Tampa. After playing collegiately for the Florida Gators, Black is used to the heat and is ready for training camp at One Buc Place.
“I’ve been pretty much training four or five times a week,” said Black. “I’ve been doing a lot of outside stuff, going to the beach and trying to relax a little bit. I know that once we start it is going to be crazy.”
In order for Black to accomplish his goal to be a starter as a rookie, he is going to have to beat out a number of veterans. The Buccaneers have starting strong safety Sean Jones returning. Free safety Cody Grimm started nine games in 2010, and is fully healed after ending the season on injured reserve. Backups Corey Lynch and Larry Asante are also coming back to compete. In order for Black to be a starter he will likely have to beat out one of Jones or Grimm. Suspended veteran Tanard Jackson could be eligible to return to the team after the second game of the season.
Over the past three seasons Black was a star for Florida and has gone up against many future NFL players including quarterback Sam Bradford, wide receiver Julio Jones, wide receiver A.J. Green and many more. In speaking with former teammates that have played in the NFL, Black is not too concerned with the speed of the game coming from the SEC.
“In talking to some of the guys they say the speed probably will only be a little bit faster than what I’m used to,” said Black.
During his years at Florida, Black was a ballhawk. He concluded his college career as a three-year starter playing in 48 games and compiling 13 interceptions for 362 yards returned with three touchdowns. He also had one fumble recovery, three forced fumbles, one blocked kick, two sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, 15 passes broken up and 244 tackles. As a senior, Black totaled five interceptions returned for 171 yards and one touchdown. Black also registered 108 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, one sack, five passes broken up and three forced fumbles. The team captain Black led the Gators in tackles in 2010.
Black has gotten some pointers from a lot of his former teammates that have entered the NFL. In particular Black has learned from Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Chicago Bears safety Major Wright. Black, Haden and Wright were three quarters of a starting secondary that won a National Championship in 2008.
“I talk to those guys all the time,” said Black. “We don’t talk too much about football. We’ve talked about it a little bit, but I was talking to them while they were going through it, so I picked up some of it.”
Thus far Black has not heard from his new Buccaneer teammates. Even though he isn’t that far away, he was not at the Bucs three-day player-organized workout in Bradenton, Florida at IMG Academies.
“I wasn’t invited, so I didn’t go,” said Black.
While Black wasn’t working out with his future teammates, he decided not to attend the rookie symposium that was put on by the players union at IMG.
“No I didn’t go. A lot of the guys I talked to weren’t going,” said Black. “I wanted to keep the time for working out.”
Right now Black is eager to get his pro career started. The 5-foot-9, 184-pounder Black earned a reputation as a gamer that would make big plays in big games. In the National Championship victory for Florida over Oklahoma at the end of the 2008 season, Black recorded a jaw-dropping interception of Bradford. The interception was a critical play in Florida's victory.
Black ended his collegiate career as the Outback Bowl MVP in Raymond James Stadium. He had two interceptions that were returned for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also chipped in six tackles with a tackle for a loss. Little did Black know that his first professional game would be played in the same stadium. However, he conveyed that hope to head coach Raheem Morris and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake when he met them leading up to the draft.
“It was pretty good,” said Black of meeting them. “I told him how I’ve always been a Bucs fan and it would be great if they drafted me.”
That dream has been realized, soon Black will try to make his goal of being a starter come true.
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