Now a member of the team's football staff, Eric Vance also played safety for the Buccaneers from 1998-2001
The NFL Draft is still several hours away, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't have to wait until they were on the clock to bolster the team staff. On Friday, the Buccaneers announced the addition of a valuable new team member: Director of Player Development Eric Vance.
Like the man he replaces, Cedric Saunders, Vance formerly played for the Buccaneers and thus brings an insider's perspective on the issues current Tampa Bay players face on a daily basis. Vance joined the Bucs as a free agent in 1998 and played parts of the next four seasons in Tampa, appearing in 33 games with one start. A reserve safety and strong special teamer, Vance finished with 13 tackles and 20 stops on special teams. He also played two regular season games plus the playoffs with Indianapolis in 2002.
Now Vance returns as one of the primary liaisons between Buccaneer players and the community. One of his primary tasks will be to work with the team's community relations department to encourage player involvement in community activities. Vance will also assist players in preparing for life beyond their playing careers, offering counsel on such things as internships, continuing education and other career opportunities.
Vance will be speaking from experience in both of these areas. During his playing days, he founded The Vance Project, which provided scholarships to high school students and used game tickets as incentive for excellence in the classroom.
Vance also began preparing for his post-playing career while he was still in demand in the NFL. During NFL offseasons from 1997-99, he worked as a substitute teacher, laying the groundwork for a recent career in education. He also served an internship with Raymond James & Associates in 1999 that led to a full-time position with the firm as a financial advisor in 2002-03.
Most recently, Vance has been teaching at Robinson High School in Tampa since 2003. He has taught algebra I and II, including honors classes, and liberal arts math, and in 2005 was named the Ida S. Baker Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year. In a role that meshes well with his new responsibilities with the Buccaneers, Vance also sponsored the Male Mentor Club at Robinson, in which he mentored students and organized speaking engagements and community appearances.
Vance holds a bachelor of science degree from Vanderbilt, with a double major in mathematics and secondary education. He was also a team captain on the Commodores' football team and was a teammate for one season with current Buccaneers linebacker Shelton Quarles. In May, Vance will complete his masters in educational leadership at the University of South Florida.