Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game Day Spotlight: Erik Lorig

Tampa Bay’s starting fullback actually began his NFL career as a defensive end before making an unusual transition



It's a word NFL pundits often use to compliment draft prospect, but  it describes few players more aptly than Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback Erik Lorig.

Lorig was a highly recruited tight end coming out of high school in Southern California, where he was also a standout linebacker at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. After enrolling at Stanford and playing tight end for two years, however, Lorig was switched by the Cardinal coaching staff to defensive end, where he excelled in his final two collegiate seasons.

Entering the 2010 NFL draft, scouts were certainly aware of Lorig's versatile nature, and it's surely one of the reasons the Bucs selected him in the seventh round. Lorig knew this, knew that the possibility of being switched to offense was ever-present, but finding himself as a starting fullback in the NFL in just his second season is still somewhat hard for him to believe.

"I did have that idea, because in college I played both," he said. "When I was coming out for the draft I sort of had that buzz around me that I was a versatile guy – maybe on defense, maybe on offense…once I get there, they'll figure it out. So once I got there and they started to hint that that was going to happen, I just took it by the reins and ran with it."

It's not unusual for a team to take a late-round flyer on a player that could potentially be moved to another position than what he played in college.  Often it's a more subtle move than what Lorig has accomplished, such as the Buccaneers switch of Tanard Jackson from cornerback to safety in 2007. Sometimes these experiments work out. Quite often, they simply don't.  The idea is abandoned and/or the late-round player fails to stick.

So far, Lorig's switch, as dramatic as it is, has been a successful one, and he credits his smooth transition in large part to helpful teammates and coaches.

"[Running Backs] Coach [Steve] Logan has been a huge help understanding the offense at this level and understanding the game, the technique, and really the approach to the game from the offensive standpoint, since it is different than defense," Lorig said. "And having older guys around like Earnest Graham and Donald Penn really did help out a lot giving tips and correcting me as I went along. I was really lucky to be in that situation. Even more so, being in this environment of young growth, I was pretty lucky.

"Having Logan and Graham in the same room together is really good. Graham is just a football master, and Logan is a football master too, and when you've got two football geniuses helping you out, it's going to help you."

Having knowledgeable coaches and helpful teammates certainly helps, but Lorig has had to work hard on his own to ensure his position switch wasn't a short-lived experiment.

And while Lorig's 6'4", 275-pound frame and many of his physical talents apply well to either side of the ball, the Stanford product says a more cerebral aspect of the switch has been his biggest challenge so far, and the area of improvement he's focused on the most.

"I think the most difficult part of the transition moving from defense to offense is the timing involved," Lorig said. "On defense, you can kind of get away with going 110 percent and still knowing where you've got to be. On offense, you can't really do that. You have to have the timing and be in the right spot at the right time, the right fit, etc. That's been the biggest challenge, and it's been a weekly goal to get better at that.

"I'm always striving to improve week to week. Really, the goal week to week ever since the day I switched was to improve. I'm really hoping to reflect that on film, in games and in practices."

Lorig also pitches in regularly for the Bucs on special teams, and interestingly, he says his duties in the kicking game give him the chance to scratch that old itch for playing hard-nosed defensive football.

"I feel as though I'm fully an offensive guy, but I always like to tap back into the defensive stuff on special teams," Lorig said with a grin. "So I feel like I'm playing both ways, to be honest. When I play special teams, I'm sort of pretending, or engaging my defensive ways. I really enjoy special teams in that way because I'm pretending I'm a linebacker or defensive end. I was really sort of an outside linebacker prospect coming out of college, so I engage that part of me on special teams. It's like I'm still playing both ways."

His main assignment now is playing fullback, though, so the question is whether he's fully bought into the offensive philosophy or still secretly enjoys the sometimes more aggressive nature of defense.  In other words, would he rather lay a crushing block on an opponent or catch a pass out of the backfield and turn it up for a big gain?

As you might imagine, the jack-of-all-trades says he enjoys it all, but he did hint at what his true passion might be.

"I really enjoy both," Lorig said. "One of the great benefits of the fullback or H-back position is the versatility. You're sort of stimulated in all areas. I've got to block, and I've got to run a route. I think that fits my mind. I take equal pleasure in doing well at both.

"But, it does put a big smile on my face to catch a ball and run down the field with it, and it's something I'd like to do a lot more in the future and continue to do that. I do like stretching the field."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Latest Headlines