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Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017
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Bucs' top pick Barron expects to be big hit

TAMPA - It's been a while since Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans roared in delight after big hits from the secondary. According to top draft pick Mark Barron, happy days are here again. Alabama's fierce safety was introduced at a news conference on Friday, along with Boise State's Doug Martin, selected late in the opening round after Tampa Bay traded up to get the versatile running back. Barron was a leader for two national championship teams and is the first safety drafted by the Bucs in the first round. He is expected to start as a rookie and new head coach Greg Schiano anticipates the same aggressive player who keyed the nation's best defense with an array of memorable collisions.
"Guys always get excited when you have that impact on a play,'' Barron said. "When you hit a player like that, it makes him think a certain way. It makes a big statement because it lets the other team know you're about business and you're coming 100 percent every play.'' Except for a few memorable hits by safety Tanard Jackson, who was released earlier this month, Tampa Bay fans have been starved for the kind of physical play popularized by ex-Bucs safety John Lynch. "A big hit I feel changes the game pretty good,'' Barron said. "I did it a few times this year. Sometimes it gets (teammates) excited, but the main thing about a hit in my opinion is it lets the other team know how you're going to play.'' Barron knows head injuries and concussions have been a hot-button NFL issue for several years, but is not about to change his style. "I'm just going to play my game,'' he said. "When I hit somebody, I don't try to lead with my head. I try to do it right. I'm going to keep playing the way I've been playing.'' Schiano said Barron, who will wear No. 24, and Martin, who will wear No. 22, represent the type of players who will define the Buccaneers. "We felt very blessed that we were able to get two guys that we think Buc men are going to be like, going forward,'' Schiano said. "Great guys, great players and guys with character … and that's important to us. They're from the premier college football programs in the country and they're the leaders of those programs.'' Martin takes his responsibilities as a role model seriously. "Character's very important,'' Martin said. "Our coach at Boise State (Chris Petersen) did a good job of developing players, on and off the field. Doing the right thing and being accountable for your actions keeps a lot of players out of trouble.''

ikaufman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7833

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