Bucs Open Doors For Area QBs
TAMPA - Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams thought Coach Jon Gruden was simply sharing a random thought as they ate dinner two months ago. Members of Tampa Bay's coaching and scouting staff were in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl and decided to have dinner at Hooters one night. Between eating wings, shrimp and salad, Gruden expressed a thought. "Jon came out of the clear blue and said 'You know what I want to do? I want to do a clinic with high school quarterbacks,'" Williams said. "I said, 'Jon that would be good,' and I left it at that, not thinking anything of it." Gruden reiterated his desire when they returned to Tampa, and Williams began working with area athletic directors to make it a reality.The idea came to fruition Saturday, as Gruden worked with more than 50 Bay area quarterbacks at One Buc Place. The players were invited from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, and they were not charged for the one-day experience. "I just thought Doug and I could get together and open our doors here for the young guys and let them feel like an NFL quarterback for one day," Gruden said. The quarterbacks arrived at 8 a.m., and Gruden prepared tapes of several accomplished quarterbacks. Gruden, along with Bucs quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, broke down the film to show what made each player successful. After nearly two hours of film work, Gruden had the quarterbacks run through different drills for more than an hour on Tampa Bay's practice field. The quarterbacks threw to Tampa Bay receivers Chad Lucas, Micheal Spurlock, Taye Biddle and newly acquired tight end Daniel Fells. Gruden did not change any quarterback's mechanics, but he taught them how to get a higher release on their throws and worked on their footwork. Each player received a hot lunch in Tampa Bay's cafeteria, then broke down film of their morning practice session before leaving around 3 p.m. "I knew we were going to do drills. At the same time, I thought it was going to be boring, but it was actually fun," Chamberlain quarterback Dontae Aycock said. "This is my first time ever doing anything like this, a quarterback camp, and this being my first and with Jon Gruden, that makes it even better." Plant quarterback Aaron Murray attended the camp, while Wharton's Andrew Clifford was one of many who appreciated the opportunity. "My dad was telling me to take it all in. He said it was going to be a good experience, and it was," Clifford said. "There were a lot of good kids out here. I played with some of these kids in Little League. Now we're all grown up and getting bigger and better."
Reporter Anwar S. Richardson can be reached at (813) 259-8425 or [email protected]