Since Tampa Bay made Danny Vitale its final draft pick in 2016, head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht have praised the 6-foot-1 H-back’s versatility.
A four-year starter at Northwestern, Vitale caught 135 passes for 1,427 yards and 11 touchdowns while lining up from multiple areas on the field. He also served as a lead blocker in the running game, earning the nickname “superback” for his combination of intelligence, size, physicality and receiving skills.
Vitale, who took the field Friday for his first NFL practice at rookie minicamp, said he expects a number of responsibilities in Tampa Bay. And while some may take some getting used to, he’ll rely on his athleticism and ability as a quick study.
“I did this pretty much in college,” Vitale said, asked of his role in the Bucs offense. “I kind of played in the slot, I kind of played tight end, a little bit of fullback, so I think the biggest transition is going to be that fullback spot when they do need it. But I’m not worried about it. I think just using my athleticism I’ll be able to figure it out.”
Vitale said he thinks he can be used in various situations, from being flexed out in the backfield, to lining up behind the quarterback, to even being split out wide if needed.
The traditional NFL fullback has largely seen its presence decrease, but Vitale wouldn’t call it a dying breed. The Chicago native believes it just calls for more flexibility at the position, which he’s looking forward to bringing to Tampa.
“I think football is kind of moving towards this ‘hybrid-style’ of football,” Vitale said. “I would say it’s transitioning to more of this H-back position that I think I’ll be playing a lot of here. It’s exciting to see. Obviously I’m happy about it because that’s what I played in college, so it just makes this transition a lot easier.”
After working with Bucs tight ends coach Jon Embree at his pro day, while also meeting privately with running backs coach Tim Spencer, Vitale felt a connection to Tampa Bay even before the draft. Now that he’s officially a Buccaneer, the Jack-of-all-trades fullback is ready to go to work with his teammates, some of who were among his favorite college players.
“It’s a pretty young team and a lot of great athletes,” he said. “You have guys like Jameis and [wide receiver] Mike Evans as well. Those are guys I looked up to when I was in college, so it’s pretty cool. It’s going to be pretty awesome playing with those guys.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he’s handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
Jon Gruden (President of the FFCA) would call this guy a “joker”.
I wonder if Dickie V. is going to buy his jersey.
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