Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers standouts Jeff Davis and Vinny Testaverde never got to practice at the state-of-the-art AdventHealth Training Center, but their sons will do exactly that this weekend. Clemson linebacker Judah Davis and Albany quarterback Vincent Testaverde will get at least three days of work at the Buccaneers' headquarters, and perhaps more depending upon how those first three days go.
Davis and Testaverde are two of 27 young players who will participate in Tampa Bay's rookie mini-camp on tryout contracts. (The full list is below.) The addition of those prospects allows the Buccaneers to fill out the weekend roster for more robust practices and to get a look at some talented players who may have slipped through the cracks during the 2019 NFL Draft and the undrafted signing rush that followed immediately afterward. It is common for the tryouts to produce a couple signings in the days that follow mini-camp.
Jeff Davis was a fifth-round draft pick by the Buccaneers in 1982 after he had earned consensus All-America honors at Clemson and helped lead the Tigers to the 1981 national championship. He played his entire six-year professional career in Tampa, starting 72 of the 83 games in which he started from 1982-87. Vinny Testaverde was the first-overall pick in the 1987 draft after he had won the 1986 Heisman Trophy while playing for the Miami Hurricanes. Testaverde also played six years for the Buccaneers, though he then went on to 15 more NFL seasons with six other teams. He started 72 of the 76 games in which he played for Tampa Bay and is the franchise's all-time leader in passing yards. Of course, both Davis and Testaverde spent their practice days at the original One Buccaneer Place before the team's new facility opened in 2006.
Testaverde will be one of three quarterbacks splitting the throws during mini-camp, along with undrafted free agent Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State and fellow tryout player Tyler Gangi of Nevada. Gangi is one of several players coming from the other side of the country to try out, and he does so after finishing his career with a run of 27 straight games with a touchdown pass. In 32 games for the Wolfpack he threw for 7,378 yards and 57 touchdowns. Another productive tryout player from Nevada is UNLV running back Lexington Thomas. Small but quick, the 5-8, 175-pound Thomas ran for 3,335 yards and 40 touchdowns at UNLV, cracking 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons.
2019 Rookie Mini-Camp Tryout Players
· ILB Bryson Allen-Williams, South Carolina
· DL Kyle Cerge-Henderson, Georgia Tech
· DL Derrick Calloway, Davenport
· ILB Judah Davis, Clemson
· G Alec Eberle, Florida State
· K Corey Fatony, Missouri
· C Quin Ficklin, Utah State
· QB Tyler Gangi, Nevada
· CB Tyler Hasty, Central Washington
· DL Rickym Holmes, Benedict
· DL Anthony Johnson, Florida International
· OLB David Kenney, Indiana*
· S Hakeem Kinard, St. Francis (PA)
· P Mac Loudermilk, UCF
· T Eric Mayes, USF
· T Riley Mayfield, North Texas
· G Jordan McCray, UCF*
· S Isiah Olave, California-Davis
· WR David Pindell, Connecticut
· S Mook Reynolds, Texas A&M-Commerce
· TE Mavin Saunders, Kansas
· WR Spencer Schnell, Illinois State
· QB Vincent Testaverde, Albany
· RB Lexington Thomas, UNLV
· CB Nick Watkins, Houston
· CB Mazzi Wilkins, USF
· S D'Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
* Kenney and McCray are first-year players, not rookies.
It is common for the Buccaneers to make a few changes to their roster following rookie mini-camp, after a couple tryout players have caught the team's eye. Last year, three such players made it onto the 90-man roster in the days following camp: cornerback Marko Myers, guard Ruben Holcomb and linebacker Shaheed Salmon. Just before training camp started, the Bucs also brought back tryout player Jerry Ugokwe, an offensive tackle, and about 10 days_into_camp tryout defensive tackle Nathan Bazata got a call.
Of those five, Holcomb has lasted the longest, as he spent time on the team's practice squad last year and is back on the 90-man roster this spring. Holcomb is also participating in this year's rookie camp as a first-year player. Other tryout players from previous Buccaneer mini-camps have advanced even further, such as Adam Humphries, Demar Dotson and Clifton Smith.
Testaverde is also one of a group of tryout players who have local ties as prep standouts, as he played at Jesuit High School, which is within walking distance of the AdventHealth Training Center. The list includes two former Plant High School stars in defensive lineman Kyle Cerge-Henderson and cornerback Mazzi Wilkins. In addition, defensive lineman Derrick Calloway played at Manatee High School and tackle Eric Mayes is a product of Booker High School in Sarasota.
Wilkins and Mayes are also two of the tryout participants who have played at Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers gameday home and also the venue for USF football. Bulls guard Jordan McCray is also attending the weekend camp, and Calloway began his college career at USF before finishing it at Davenport.
Another common sight on the annual list of tryout players is prospects from small college programs who have received less exposure to NFL scouts. For instance, neither Davenport University in Michigan or Benedict College in South Carolina has ever produced an NFL player; Calloway and defensive lineman Rickym Holmes, respectively, could change that. Testaverde could be just the third Albany player to make the jump to the pros, while St. Francis (PA) has had just one NFL player since 1952. Safety Hakeem Kinard will try to be the second. Texas A&M-Commerce, safety Mook Reynolds' school, has placed a decent number of players in the pros but hasn't had NFL representation since 2006.