The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed eight undrafted free agents to their roster on Friday in time for the start of the team's three-day rookie mini-camp at One Buc Place.
The Bucs signed Iowa center Rob Bruggeman, Georgia safety C.J. Byrd, Temple tackle Andre Douglas, Ole Miss guard Maurice Miller, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Rashaad Duncan, Florida International cornerback Marshall McDuffie, Richmond running back Josh Vaughan and Tennessee cornerback DeAngelo Willingham.
All eight players will participate in Tampa Bay's rookie-mini-camp, which begins Friday and ends Sunday.
Although some considered it a pressing need heading into the 2009 NFL Draft, the Bucs waited until the seventh round to address the cornerback position. They drafted Western Michigan CB E.J. Biggers.
But the Bucs used undrafted free agency to land two cornerbacks they were high on heading into the draft in McDuffie and Willingham.
McDuffie (6-2, 207), a Tampa Bay area native, played at Durant High School in Plant City. He notched 104 tackles in four seasons (2004-06, 2008). He was kicked off the FIU football team after a brawl on the field with Miami in '06. Upon returning as a senior, McDuffie, who saw playing time at cornerback and safety at FIU, recorded 26 tackles, one sack, three interceptions, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Willingham (6-0, 200) finished the final two seasons of his collegiate career at Tennessee after transferring from College of Desert in California. He recorded 80 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and seven passes defensed in two seasons at Tennessee.
In addition to adding depth to the cornerback position, the Bucs also added a safety to the mix in Byrd (6-2, 187), who notched 109 tackles, one interception, two fumble recoveries and three passes defensed in 52 games at Georgia. A two-year starter, Byrd recorded 49 tackles and six passes defensed as a senior.
Duncan (6-2, 295) was the only other undrafted free agent added to the defensive side of the ball for the Bucs. Voted Pittsburgh's Most Improved Player in 2007, Duncan recorded 145 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in four seasons (48 games) at Pittsburgh.
Tampa Bay added some depth to its offensive line by signing three as undrafted free agents.
Bruggeman (6-3, 287) started one season at center and impressed in the process, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2008. His collegiate career was hindered in 2007 when he tore ligaments in his knee, which forced him to miss nine games. As a senior, Bruggeman started every game at center.
Douglas (6-5, 308) began his collegiate career at Rhode Island before transferring to Temple. He started 24 games at Temple and saw action at both right guard and right tackle. His teammates voted Douglas the Top Hog award winner, which is given to the team's best offensive lineman each season.
Miller (6-3, 327) started 30 of the 37 games he played in for Mississippi. As a sophomore, Miller started seven games at right tackle. As a senior, Miller moved from right tackle to right guard, starting 12 games. Ole Miss ranked second in the SEC in rushing yards per game and fourth in sacks allowed with Miller in the lineup.
The Bucs also added an undrafted free agent to their current stable of running backs. Vaughan (6-0, 232) played behind Arizona Cardinals RB Tim Hightower at Richmond from 2005-07. As a senior Vaughan got his shot to carry the load, and that's exactly what he did, rushing for 1,884 yards on 355 carries (5.3 avg.) and 20 touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career with 3,393 rushing yards, 46 receptions for 369 yards and a total of 35 touchdowns.
Last year, Tampa Bay found two gems in undrafted free agency, signing running back Clifton Smith and cornerback Elbert Mack. Smith made the Pro Bowl as a rookie return specialist while Mack earned a 53-man roster spot and contributed on defense and special teams.
The Bucs are hoping to have similar success stories in the eight undrafted free agents they signed on Friday.
In addition, the Bucs have signed 33 players to try-out contracts. The following try-out players will participate in this weekend's rookie-mini-camp.
33 TRY-OUT PLAYERS WITH BUCS
LB Adetokunbo Abanikanda – Southern Miss
RB Gary Anderson Jr. – Rice
DE Jarrett Buie – South Florida
FB Michael Christen – North Carolina A&T
FB Conredge Collins – Pittsburgh
LB Maurice Crum – Notre Dame
G Calvin Darrity – North Carolina
OL Marc Dile – South Florida
T Demar Dotson – Southern Miss
P Matt Fodge – Oklahoma State
G Michael Gates – Mississippi State
TE Cedric Hill – South Florida
RB Kareem Huggins – Hofstra
S Jeffrey Jack – Grambling
WR Amari Jackson – South Florida
WR Dorrell Jalloh – West Virginia
S Merrill Johnson – Auburn
QB Rodney Landers – James Madison
RB Jay Lucas – Southern Louisiana
DT Melvin Matthew – Grambling
CB Evan McCullough – James Madison
RB Paul McKinnis – Murray State
DE Geneath Moffett – Florida State
LB Terrence Moore – Troy
CB Armando Murillo – Nebraska
WR Co-Eric Riley – Mississippi State
DT Nate Robinson – Akron
WR Tommy Saunders – Missouri
G Dion Small – Troy
LB Marcellus Speaks – Jackson State
WR Desmond Tardy – Purdue
LB Nathan Williams – Murray State
TE Chris Zellner – Miami