Former South Carolina T Jabari Levey helped Berlin build a strong running game this spring
Jabari Levey has this in common with his former Berlin Thunder teammate, Bruce Eugene. Neither was in the opening lineup for the Thunder's first game of 2007, but both were starting by the last game.
Now, Levey and Eugene share something else – a single NFL Europa roster exemption to go to camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On Monday, the Buccaneers announced the signing of Levey, a 6-6, 315-pound offensive tackle who spent last summer with the Oakland Raiders. Levey just completed his first tour in the NFL Europa (which was called to an end by the NFL on Friday), helping Berlin field the league's most potent rushing attack.
The Buccaneers had an exemption available to sign Levey due to the shoulder injury suffered by Eugene in the final week of the NFLEL's 10-game season. Eugene, who started the Thunder's last two games after quarterback Travis Lulay sustained his own shoulder injury, has been placed on an NFL Europe injured reserve list, freeing his exemption for use on another player. The former Grambling quarterback will now head to the NFLEL's treatment center in Birmingham; when he is deemed fully healthy again, the Buccaneers will have to choose whether to keep that exemption on Levey or Eugene.
Levey actually entered the Thunder lineup much earlier in the season. After Steven Vieira started the season opener in April, Levey took over the Thunder's left tackle position in Week Two and remained there for the rest of the season. The Berlin offensive line produced outstanding results all season, including a league-high 152.4 rushing yards per game.
Berlin ballcarriers averaged 4.6 yards per carry, led by the league's second-leading rusher, Cleveland Browns allocate Chris Barclay. Barclay piled up 756 rushing yards on the season, just 46 fewer than Derrick Ross, NFLEL's co-Most Valuable Player with Frankfurt Galaxy quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan.
In addition, Eugene and the Berlin quarterbacks were sacked just 18 times in 10 games. Overall, the Thunder had the league's second-most prolific offense behind World Bowl XV runner-up Frankfurt.
Levey first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders last May. He made it to the final cut before being released on September 2. He was not allocated to NFL Europa when the league was re-formed this past winter; rather, he was drafted as a free agent by the Thunder in the fourth round.
At South Carolina, Levey earned four letters and was a starter for most of his last three seasons. After opening seven of 11 games as a sophomore in 2003, he was the Gamecocks left tackle starter for every game of his last two seasons. In 2005, he was the co-winner of South Carolina's Outstanding Offensive Lineman award. Levey hails from Moncks Corner, South Carolina.