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Coach Mann, what jumped out to you about Maurice Stovall when you started studying him on film?
“The one thing that was consistent when we were watching the tape was that we got a guy that loves football and played hard. He runs 4.5 on every down, unlike some of the other guys that came out. Whether it is a run or a pass, he runs a 4.5 every down. He’s got a motor. He’s a War Daddy type in that he plays the run and the pass well. He made some excellent catches. They say his production was down before (Notre Dame head coach Charlie) Weis got there, but I looked at the tape and the guy was a good football player.”

I got the chance to meet him at the Senior Bowl and he seemed like a pretty serious guy.
“He’s smart and all business. That’s what we look for. You can’t go wrong with toughness, either. He’s got good size. Football is a big man’s game. I mean there’s a place for other guys – smaller guys – but we loved him. We’re excited to have him. I’m pretty excited.”

Stovall is 6-foot-4 and he’s known as a leaper. This guy was a real red zone threat for Notre Dame. I’ve seen him make some incredible, one-handed catches.
“He’s a legit football player. He’s a tough guy. You can’t coach toughness. In the end that’s what you need to win football games. He’s got it and he can make the tough catch when he needs to.”

I thought one of the reasons why you lost that playoff game to Washington was because Michael Clayton was out and that meant that you didn’t have any size at wide receiver in that game. You have always had big receivers from Keyshawn Johnson to Joe Jurevicius to Keenan McCardell to Clayton, but you didn’t have that against the Redskins. You had Joey Galloway, Edell Shepherd and Ike Hilliard and you weren’t able to create any size mismatches.
“There’s no question. When it comes down to plays that need to be made down the stretch, size will take over. Toughness will take over. Big guys will take over. Size will get you that first down or that touchdown and it will get that block. This guy, Stovall, will do what Clayton does for us. Clayton was really beat up last year and we didn’t have him at times. Now we’ve got another guy like Clayton along with some of our young guys like that. I like having that extra size at receiver.”

At Notre Dame when Charlie Weis came in last year, he asked Stovall to drop some weight. Stovall went from 235 pounds down to 219 pounds for his senior season, and he said that helped his speed and elusiveness. Could you see a difference on tape?
“I think he realized that and for him to do that when he was asked to do that shows me that he got on the ball with his priorities. That also won me over – dropping the weight. When I was talking to him I wanted to see if he was selfish. They got another good receiver up there in (Jeff) Samardzija and I thought that maybe sometimes Stovall would get selfish if he didn’t get the ball – there is only one ball, you know. But those guys are real good friends and it wasn’t like that. He told me that and that’s what I saw on tape.”

Stovall was over there slapping high-fives when Samardzija scored touchdowns if I remember correctly.
“You are exactly right. Stovall told me that, ‘When I wasn’t getting the ball I was doing the other things to make us win. I was getting the block.’ And when you looked at the tape, that’s exactly what he was doing. There was no question. That was something we were looking for because we have a guy that can run the ball here [running back Cadillac Williams] and we need (Stovall) to block.”

Tell me about the three guys you drafted last year – Larry Brackins, Paris Warren and J.R. Russell. How have those guys developed behind the scenes? The last time we saw them was in the preseason. How will they fit into the mix with Stovall coming in?
“I think all three of those guys know this offense now, so it won’t be like where we have to teach them the offense. They have a year under their belt. They should be able to just go out and display their talents this year. I think they’ve all come a long way.”

Larry Brackins may have come the longest way just because of the road he took from Pearl River Community College to the NFL. How has he progressed, specifically?
“I think talent-wise, he has the most potential out of them all because he’s a real talented football player. We just had to teach him the system and the accountability coming out of junior college. Hopefully that’s taking over. The thing I will say is that they know the system. It’s been taught. We just have to go out and play football. Now we have another guy in the mix and that is going to make it even more interesting. Competition brings out the ‘beast’ in everybody without question.”

This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at:
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