View some of the top photos of TE Cameron Brate from the 2017 season.
I sat down with the 26-year-old suburban Chicago native to discuss everything from Michael Jordan-centric movies to what life was like as a student-athlete at an Ivy League school.
This is Behind the Buccaneers with Cameron Brate:
Carmen Vitali: What got you into sports?
Cameron Brate:We had a field in my backyard so there was a bunch of kids in my neighborhood. We were always just, football, basketball, baseball. I liked the competition and I liked being active.
Vitali: When did you know football was what you wanted to do?
Brate: When I stopped being good at basketball and baseball [laughs]. That's when I knew. I said, 'this is it, I'm down to one.'
Vitali: Your Wikipedia page doesn't list much, but it does say you went to Naperville Central High School - and got cut from your Freshman A football team.
Brate: Yeah, I was on the B team. I was pretty small then. When I got my permit my freshman year I was 5'9" and 145 pounds. Eight months later, when I got my license, I was 6'4" and 200.
Vitali: You grew from 5'9" to 6'4" and gained 45 pounds in eight months? Was it just size that was holding you back?
Brate: I was a late bloomer.
Vitali:** Ok, fast forward, and you end up at Harvard. Was it 'I want to go to Harvard' or 'I want to play football and Harvard is going to let me do that'?
Brate: Definitely I want to play football and Harvard is going to let me do that. I remember getting my first letter from them and I was just like, what? I had never envisioned myself leaving the Midwest to go to college but my parents helped open my eyes to the idea.
Vitali: Were you always a good student?
Brate: Yeah. My parents are both teachers so they would have killed me if I didn't get good grades.
Vitali: What was one thing about Harvard that surprised you once you got there?
Brate: Huh, that's a great question. I almost went in expecting to not do well. Like my worst semester of school there was my freshman fall. Then I realized hey, you know what? These people aren't that much smarter than me, so I was able to do well.
Vitali: Ok now you're coming out of Harvard, you're kind of a big fish in a smaller pond, right? It's FCS, it's the Ivy League, but you racked up a ton of awards and stuff while you were there. When did you think about 'oh, maybe I'm actually going to try for the NFL?'
Brate: There was a guy a year older than me named Kyle Juszczyk. He's actually made the past two Pro Bowls. He plays fullback for the 49ers and he got drafted in the fourth round. He told me I could probably do it. So, I was like, I'll give it a shot. And yeah, it's worked out I guess.
Vitali: I'd say so. But at first you were on the practice squad here after going undrafted. Went to the Saints for what? A week? And then came back here. That's a part of this industry that's a little more common than people think.
Brate: Oh yeah, especially like practice squad and bottom of the roster guys. There's so much turnover.
Vitali: Which eventually led to your living situation now.
Brate: Yeah, my second year when I went to New Orleans for a week, I couch-surfed for about three weeks, like during the middle of the season. DePo [Andrew DePaola], the long snapper at the time, Brandon Myers, Griff [Ryan Griffin], Hump [Adam Humphries], because none of us lived together at the time. Eventually I saw the opportunity that hey, Adam has an extra room, be nice to Adam and maybe he'll let you stay there. And it just worked out.
Vitali:** Do you like it here in Tampa?
Brate: I love it. I live with Griff and Hump right off South Howard, so walking distance to many different places, restaurants, Hyde Park. I'm either in my apartment, at the pool or at Fresh Kitchen.
Vitali: What's one thing you think you want to accomplish now that you're going to be here for a while?
Brate: Win a Super Bowl. I can't do that by myself but that's the goal for every team, every year. I think it would just be awesome if we could turn things around here. Last year was really frustrating. We know we have a lot of talent but talent doesn't win you games, so if we can find a way to win some more games this year and get into the playoffs and see what happens, that would be awesome.
Vitali: Alright, I want to end with some rapid-fire questions. Sound good?
Brate: Let's do it.
Vitali: Space Jam or Like Mike?
Brate: Oh, Like Mike. I had my birthday party and we saw Like Mike when I was, like, 10. I mean, I just have that memory. The actual movie? Space Jam is better. But for me, Like Mike just has that personal touch.
Vitali: Ok, I get it. Ketchup or no ketchup on your hot dog?
Brate: Ooh, no ketchup. Chicago.
Vitali: Sock, sock, shoe, shoe? Or sock, shoe, sock, shoe?
Brate:You are a psycho if you do sock, shoe, sock, shoe. I'm more just like, shoe, shoe, no sock. I never wear socks unless I'm like, working out. I'm not wearing socks right now.
Vitali: No, you really aren't, are you? Ok, dogs or cats?
Brate: Dogs. Is anyone going to pick cats? Especially a football team, I feel like you're going to get a lot of dogs.
Vitali: You're probably right. Favorite musical artist?
Brate: Right now? That would probably be Arizona. They're like a poppy-EDM.
Vitali: So, like a better Chainsmokers?
Brate: A lot more chill. I got Bryan Anger hooked on them.
Vitali: Does he play them when he goes fishing now?
Brate: That might drive the fish away.
Vitali: Ok, speaking of fishing, if you're stranded on a desert island - three things you would need?
Brate: A house…
Vitali: That's cheating.
Brate: Fine. I'd bring a pillow. I'd bring a BRITA to filter the water so I got an endless supply. And maybe some candles.
Vitali: That's what you're going with?
Brate: Hey, I've got a BRITA, I'm going to survive.