The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went offense for the third straight round Saturday, selecting Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall with their third-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
“I am very excited,” Stovall said. “I am happy Coach Gruden called me, asked me if I wanted to play for him, told me I was next on their list and I’m more than happy to play for Tampa Bay. I look forward to it.”
The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Stovall is a big-bodied receiver with good speed. After underachieving in his first three years at Notre Dame, Stovall came alive in 2005 in head coach Charlie Weis’ pro-style offense.
As a senior, Stovall emerged as a physical receiver and big-time playmaker, catching 69 passes for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Just a lot of things,” Stovall said when asked what changed for him in his senior year. “The type of system I was in, given more opportunity to catch the ball. A team playing better together and just being more mature.
“It was everything. Academics, social life, football. I lost a lot of weight, it made me more elusive. I just took a greater advantage of my opportunities.”
A 2005 All-American honorable mention and All-Independent first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, Stovall finished his collegiate career with 114 passes for 1,933 yards and 17 touchdowns in 44 career games at Notre Dame.
Although the Bucs do not run Weis’ offense in Tampa Bay, Stovall is familiar with head coach Jon Gruden’s West Coast-style of offense from his playing days under former Fighting Irish head coach from Ty Willingham, who also implemented the West Coast offense.
Tampa Bay will have plenty of competition at the wide receiver position in training camp and preseason. In addition to Stovall, the Bucs have Michael Clayton, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, Edell Shepherd, Larry Brackins, Paris Warren, J.R. Russell, Mark Jones and several other receivers on their offseason roster.
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