TAMPA, Fla. —rookie running back wanted to soak up every moment of his first NFL practice — he caught himself staring at the giant red flag on the Bucs’ pewter-colored helmets (he even tried to take his back to the team hotel, but the equipment staff stopped him) and at the jerseys, thinking to himself, ‘I’m living out my dream.’
But it wasn’t until he went back into the locker room after practice and saw a group of fellow rookies gathered around quarterback’s locker that another realization hit him: He’ll be taking handoffs, catching passes and picking up blitzes for arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, whose NFL career has spanned nearly his and every other Buccaneer rookie’s entire life.
“They were like, ‘Yeah, man, Tom, his locker is so clean and neat.’ So that just goes to show you howis,” White recalled.
“I went over there and was like, ‘Yeah, that’s crazy.’ Of course, I don’t touch nothing in nobody’s locker 'cause that’s just how it goes. But it’s just crazy to see like how organized and neat his locker is. Mine’s kind of dirty already.”
Defensive tackle, The Bucs’ first pick (second round) in the draft and the 33rd overall selection out of the University of Houston, who coincidentally grew up on a street called Buccaneer Lane in Belton, Texas, got to see Brady’s locker when he took a top-30 visit before the draft, which was a surreal experience.
“I was [freaking out] so hard. It was unreal,” said Hall, who was born on April 22, 2000 – exactly six days after Brady was selected 199thBrady's first Brady teammate was born after his 2000 draft. He was drafted as the number one overall pick. The two haven’t gotten to meet yet, as Brady was not present for the Bucs’ first day of OTAs this week.
“I’ll be shocked. I’ll try not to stutter and things like that,” Hall said, laughing. “But it will be really cool to see him.”
After learning that the starting right approach is key,just recently got Brady’s phone number and was giddy over it, Hall said, “That’s understandable.”
Guard yourself during the pre-draft processThe Bucs' 57th draft pick from Central Michigan, he repeatedly said to friends and family that he didn’t have a “dream team.” He confessed to his friends and family that he hoped he'd be picked by Tampa Bay because Brady.
Goedeke explained that “I grew-up in Wisconsin so I had to root somewhat for the Packers, but to be completely honest, I loved the Patriots more because Tom Brady,” Goedeke added. “This is like a dream come true for me.”
“I know that the moment I see him, it’s kinda gonna be like, ‘Whoa!’ Like kind of like a shellshock type of thing,” said cornerbackFifth-round draft pick from Sam Houston State, “I just try to stay in the moment, and whenever that moment comes, I’ll be there.”
Brady’s been known to pick on young defensive backs in practice, like a shark sniffing blood in the water, but McCollum said he’ll embrace the challenge.
“If I get tested, hopefully I end up getting me one,” McCollum said. “I’m definitely gonna absorb everything, learn from everything – from his walk, talk, everything.
“Just because he’s on the offensive side of the ball — they say defensive guys are supposed to know more about offense than offensive guys, and when you’ve got a GOAT like him, going at you in practice, getting the ball out fast, making checks, staring at you and knowing exactly where I’m going before I even know — I’m gonna try to pick up on it fast.”
Rookie tight end, a fourth-round draft pick out of Washington, called being teammates with Brady “super surreal.”
While he wasn’t one of the players standing around Brady’s locker, he said, “I wouldn’t put it past myself to do that. Just super cool.”
But he also acknowledged that he and his fellow rookies will have to get past the ‘awe factor,’ just as Brady’s other Bucs teammates have had to do before him.
“Ultimately, he’s gonna be one of my teammates, and we’ve gotta be able to work together,” Otton said.
Rookie tight end, a sixth-round draft pick out of Minnesota, isn’t expecting Brady to go easy on them.
“That hasn’t really hit,” Kieft said. “But I’m sure he’ll be a demanding dude.”