Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden tried to give some local high school quarterbacks a taste of life in the NFL
Jon Gruden's voice echoed across the practice fields on Saturday morning as he bellowed at a group of quarterbacks going through drills. It was a familiar scene at One Buccaneer Place, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' pristine headquarters…with a twist.
Gruden was delivering a round of insight and advice with all of his typical intensity and passion, but this time it wasn't directed at Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese or any of the other Buccaneers quarterbacks. Rather, the Bucs' head coach was enthusiastically taking part in an invite-only camp for some of the area's top high school signal-callers.
Over 40 quarterbacks from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties paid a visit to One Buc Place Saturday and were afforded a unique experience. The talented local passers sat in on a meeting with Gruden, went through drills on the practice fields and then broke down film of their performances, with a gourmet lunch in the Buccaneers' cafeteria in between.
Long known as a fan of the quarterback position, Gruden said the clinic was an idea of his that he was glad came to fruition.
"[Doug Williams and I] both really enjoyed playing high school football," Gruden said. "We wanted to reach out to the local guys and talk to them about their work ethic, talk to them about the position, get to know them and let them get to know each other. We're proud of our football in the state of Florida, especially here in Tampa."
And the local talent was certainly well represented on Saturday, headlined by Plant High School standout Aaron Murray, who said he was grateful for the chance to learn from the NFL's elite.
"Coach Gruden knows a lot," Murray said. "In that hour and a half of film study, I probably learned the most I've ever learned in film study. It's been a great day and hopefully I can take that back to Plant High School and help them out next year."
Already possessing scholarship offers from a veritable who's who in college football, Murray was only the first of many passers that impressed Gruden during the clinic as he tried to give the young quarterbacks a glimpse of life in the NFL.
"The coaching in high school programs in the state of Florida is better than I've ever seen," Gruden said. "These guys know the game. I've [done clinics] with hundreds of them over the years.
"We didn't try to change anybody's motion, we didn't try to put in any plays. All we wanted to do was give them some drills to work on during the summer and encourage them to get off the video games and away from the TV set and use some of these beautiful facilities and parks we have in our city and motivate their football teams like the quarterback should. We just wanted to assist them as they make progress into their futures."
The experience of going through film study and drills with a quarterback and coach who each own Super Bowl titles might have been a bit intimidating for the young passers initially, but Williams said the camp proved to be a resounding success.
"When Coach Gruden came up with the idea of having the clinic, I thought it was a great idea not only for us just to see some young guys play, but I thought for the community, for the high schools and for the young guys to come to One Buc Place and go into the film room and listen to coach and come out on the grass," Williams said.
Even some of the Bucs players chipped in to help. Tight end Daniel Fells and wide receivers Micheal Spurlock, Chad Lucas and Taye Biddle ran routes and caught passes from the quarterbacks as Gruden shouted instructions during the drills.
And after it was all said and done, Gruden said he felt proud of the experience he was able to help provide to the talented local passers.
"I just thought Doug and I could get together and open our doors here to the local guys and let them feel like an NFL quarterback for one day," Gruden said. "We grinded on them hard for two and a half hours in the film room, we put them through an hour and fifteen minute workout, they got to eat lunch in our facility and got to go back in and watch the video from what they did here on the practice field. I wanted to put them in an environment where they feel like they're a pro player and let them know what it's going to be like if they work hard and get things done."