They had to wait until the 11th hour, but rookie defensive backs Jude Adjei-Barimah and Al-Hajj Shabazz got their invitations to a 2015 NFL training camp. First-year safety Kimario McFadden, who has already been to one training camp in the NFC South, moves down I-75 for his second crack at making a regular-season roster.
Adjei-Barimah and Shabazz – a pair of cornerbacks from, respectively, Bowling Green and West Chester – will go camping in Florida after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. The two were among a large group of free agents given tryouts by the team on Tuesday, as the Bucs sought to completely fill their 90-man camp roster. McFadden, who spent three weeks on Tampa Bay's practice squad a year ago, worked out on Wednesday and signed later in the afternoon.
The Bucs began Wednesday with one available spot on their roster, and thus also had to release two players in order to remain at the camp limit. The departing players are both defensive backs as well: Everett Deshazor and Derrick Wells. Everett was an undrafted rookie cornerback out of Texas A&M who signed with Tampa Bay right after the draft. Wells tried out during the team's rookie mini-camp and was subsequently signed in mid-May. Earlier in the week, Wells had been placed on the active/non-football injury list.
NFL coaches usually have a specific number of players at each position that they want to take to training camp to handle the huge amount of practice reps. Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers apparently thought the secondary needed minor reinforcements; after Wednesday's moves the team will bring nine 15 defensive backs into camp, including nine cornerbacks and six safeties.
The 5-11, 200-pound Adjei-Barimah played four seasons at Bowling Green, appearing in 52 games with 20 starts and contributing 150 tackles, five interceptions and 2.5 sacks. He also broke up 26 passes and forced three fumbles, with career highs of 12 and two, respectively, as a senior last fall. He wasn't immediately signed by an NFL team after going undrafted in the spring, but he did have a tryout with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Shabazz (6-2, 200) is another small-school pick-up for the Buccaneers; West Chester is a Division II school of 13,000 undergrads that plays in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. He will try to become the 11th West Chester player to make it in the NFL and the first since linebacker Lee Woodall (1994-2001).
Shabazz snared nine interceptions in 41 games during his collegiate career, including four during the 2014 campaign. He also recorded 151 tackles, 32 passes defensed, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns as a junior in 2013.
McFadden has already toured three-quarters of the NFC South. He began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014; after going to camp in Atlanta he was waived by the Falcons and signed by the Buccaneers to their practice squad. McFadden spent the first three weeks of the regular season with that crew before being released and then returning to Atlanta to spend a month on the Falcons' practice squad. From there, he went to Carolina, landing on the Panthers' practice squad for the final month of the season and then re-signing for 2015. He was waived by the Panthers near the end of May.
McFadden (5-11, 197) played his final two college seasons at South Carolina State after first attending Alabama A&M. In his two campaigns with the Bulldogs, he played in 24 games and racked up 129 tackles, three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In 2013, he was named a second-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference choice.