On Friday, the Buccaneers hosted high school football teams from Hillsborough & Pinellas Counties for their annual High School Football Media Day at One Buccaneer Place. Both public and private schools were in attendance for the event, which was held in the morning and concluded in the early afternoon.
"The Buccaneers are proud to host the student Athletes from throughout Tampa Bay for our second annual High School media day," said Eileen Sweeney, the Buccaneers' Director of Community Outreach. "This experience of being in front of the camera and meeting with the media will give them valuable skills and build their confidence for the future."
Student-athletes met with members of the media in the Bucs' media studio to answer questions about the upcoming season. In addition to the press conferences, they got to experience what it was like getting headshots and doing stand-up interviews with the media.
"I think the experience has been great," said Frank LaRosa, the head coach at East Bay High School. "If I were a high school football player I would try to enjoy it as much as possible, try to soak it in as much as possible. These are opportunities that you don't get every day.
"These guys are walking the same hallways that the players do and are sitting in some of the same meeting rooms. I think it's awesome that the Bucs open up their facility and their home to the local high schools. I think it's something that will help motivate some of these guys to push a little bit more so that they can hopefully be the next ones here."
LaRosa, who was also selected as the Buccaneers' Coach of the Week for Week 1 of the 2015 season, was one of 30 head coaches to bring their players to Media Day. Armwood High School, a state finalist in 2015, was also at attendance, along with more than two-dozen local teams.
Some of the high school players at Media Day had a connection to the Buccaneers, too. Derrick Brooks' son, DeCalon, was with Gathier High School while Dave Moore's son, Jake, was at One Buc with Jesuit High School.
"It's awesome to be back and see everything," said Moore, "especially to be back in this building. My dad always works with the Xs and Os with me. That's all we do is watch film. He's been my coach my whole football career so he knows exactly what to do and how to do it."
Players from Wharton High made the trip as well. Wharton is the home to Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who the team selected with the first overall pick in this year's draft.
"It's definitely exciting," one of Wharton's players said. "It's definitely motivating to think that someone who was just in our shoes not too long ago was in the same position that we are and now he's in the NFL as a first-round draft pick – that's something that gives us a whole lot of motivation knowing he came from the same placed and was practicing on the same field and worked out in the same weight room. That really gives you a motivation to see that he can do it and lets us know that we can do the same thing if we put our minds to it."