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July 29, 2011 @ 2:31 pm
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Black Feels Right At Home With Bucs

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Rookie safety and Lakeland native Ahmad Black, who grew up a Buccaneers fan, felt right at home in Tampa Bay after Friday morning's walk-thru practice.
Walking off the field after his first official practice in the NFL during Friday morning’s walk-thru, Buccaneers safety Ahmad Black was dripping in sweat, but still all smiles. While some other new faces may be overwhelmed by the Florida sunshine, the heat is nothing new for Black.

From youth football, to his accomplished career for the Lakeland High School Dreadnaughts, to the University of Florida where he was an All-American safety, and now the Buccaneers, Black has played his entire football career in the Sunshine State, and feels like the heat – on and off the field – is something he is prepared for.

“I have not seen too much difference; it is a little bit faster,” Black said about his first taste of life in the NFL. “Everything is just more crisp. It is more detailed, more solid. Everybody knows exactly what he is doing. I got to look at my playbook a little bit more. I am not going to play a little bit faster unless I know exactly what I am doing. The maturity level of the guys here is real different than college.”

Black, who grew up a fan of the Buccaneers, ended his Gators career with 227 tackles, 13 interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. The Polk County native was a three-year starter for the Gators and team captain, and earned two championship rings in his career in Gainesville.

Playing and excelling for a big-time college program was something that was a factor in the Buccaneers taking Black in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. While the success rate for fifth-round picks making NFL rosters isn’t very high, Black thinks that playing for a top-tier program like the University of Florida gives him a good chance to make the squad and contribute this year. 

“Definitely [playing for Gators] and when I said the maturity level [is different], that doesn’t mean that you know we had all that playful guys,” Black said. “That right there is why we one of the top-notch schools, and I am not being biased. But you know what I am just saying. And I think that’s why we were so successful there. You know here it is a little bit different feeling [with regards to maturity].”

Black faces tough odds to get playing time, as the Buccaneers were pleased with their safety play last season. Cody Grimm, who earned a starting spot early in 2010 after Tanard Jackson’s suspension after Week 2, and appears to be 100 percent after suffering a broken leg against Baltimore.

Veteran Sean Jones, who is steady if not spectacular, is back, and the wild card in the equation is the possible return of Jackson, who was suspended for violation the league’s substance abuse policy and is not eligible for re-instatement until after the second game of the 2011 season.

The 5-foot-9, 184-pound Black plans to lean heavily on the veteran players for leadership, guidance, and help with technique, including his all-time favorite Buccaneers player Ronde Barber. Black’s instinctive play reminded the Tampa Bay coaching staff and scouting staff of Barber during the draft evaluation process of the Florida standout.

“I talked to some of the older guys we all get in the rooms at the same time together,” Black said. “I do not feel that uncomfortable asking questions. Ronde has been here a long time. I just go in there like any other regular meeting [and ask questions].”

– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
Last modified on Friday, 29 July 2011 20:54

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  • avatar

    It is good to finally see in what directions and what the bucs will be going. getting joseph and trueblood plus sign 16 fa rookes and sign all but one TampaDraft player is I believe the quickness I see that Tampa will not go after outside Tampa team unless he ia a valuable player they needed,before they sign the rest of tampa players. I see that other teams making Big Impact on who when and were they sign. But Tampa is approaching their FA's like the old way. Reward their players that has shown they are wrthy of a new contact. What Iam looking at if a Caddy is going to be resign or they go after Bradshaw from Giants. I say resign Caddy He deserved to stay here he did the walk to come back.He may not be the fast like when he came in. But Remember Fans what He Did from Day one. In Years One. All I say is WOW. I say with Tampa Improving line on both offensive and defensive side of the ball. Tampa Team this year will be a different seniaro. I like what I see. GLH
  • avatar

    This kid can play. At the very least he should excel on special teams.
  • avatar

    5'9" and a buck seventy-eight sure sounds small for a safety. Guessing the first time Blount aims his pads toward this kid the story will be told. Does anyone remember height/weight specs for T. Jackson? Seems he was about 6' and closer to 190 lbs?
  • avatar

    Good that he isn't intimidated, but let's see what happens when the bullets fly.
  • avatar

    Even with a tougher schedule this D should be much improved. Cant wait to see what this kid can do. I'm Bias (Gators fan) but this kid was dynamite in college.
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