The next generation of Tampa Bay Buccaneer stars could bear some very familiar last names.
Former Buccaneer teammates Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks and Dave Moore have sons who, at the very least, will be following in their footsteps as far as playing college football. For Alstott and Brooks, their sons will even be attending their own alma maters. Whether that leads to careers in the NFL, and specifically with the Bucs, remains to be seen and is ultimately irrelevant. What pleases the three former Bucs the most is that their children will get to experience college football while also pursuing higher education.
Wednesday was National Signing Day, which meant Griffin Alstott, Decalon Brooks and Jake Moore all made their college choices official. Alstott, a dual-threat quarterback, will play for Purdue, where his father starred before being selected by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Brooks, a linebacker like the Hall of Famer the Buccaneers drafted in 1995, will don the familiar garnet and gold at Florida State. Moore, whose dad played tight end at Pitt, is a center headed for Dayton.
"I want to say congratulations to Mike and Dave and their families, and their two sons as well," said Brooks, who did not attempt to push his own son towards FSU or any particular school. "This day is very special to see. Our kids have grown up around one another, watching us playing the game at an early age, and now we get the opportunity to watch them play the same game and live out a dream. That's very special."
While signing day made things official for thousands of recruits across the land, the three sons of Buccaneers had made their respective choices earlier after much deliberation. For each, the decision was based on more than just football.
"It was a number of things," said the elder Moore of Jake's selection of Dayton. "He had an opportunity to go to Eastern Illinois and a couple of other schools. He really liked all of them for different reasons but when we sat down all together and looked at the big picture, taking football out of the equation, it came down to Eastern and Dayton. They are each one of the top teams in their respective divisions and play very competitive football, but when you look at all things aside from football – if you had an injury or something happened where you weren't able to play – is it going to be a situation where you're going to transfer out to another school or would you still stay and enjoy the experience? I played football for 25 years and I retired 10 years ago and it feels like another life to us. In the end, you're going to have to do something other than play football."
Decalon informed his father of his decision this past summer; Griffin had committed to Purdue last spring. Those early commitments don't necessarily end the chase, however, and both players fathers were pleased that the first choice was also the final one. At Purdue, in particular, the situation could have changed with the hiring of a new head coach, Jeff Brohm, this past December.
"Griffin committed in the spring but there were a number of schools that were pursuing him and some coaches that we had developed some relationships with," said Alstott. "At the end, we love what Coach Brohm brings to the table, and obviously we know a lot about Purdue. It was the perfect fit."
Added Brooks: "It was a complete surprise and shock to me, to be honest with you. He told me back in August that he was making a commitment [to Florida State], and to see him stay very committed to his word throughout this whole process says a whole lot about the young man that he is. I'm very excited for Decalon to take the next step in his life, and that's the opportunity to earn a college degree and at the same time play college football. And I was even more excited that he chose Florida State. "
Alstott coached his son at Northside Christian. Moore who was previously the head coach of one of Northside's rivals, Shorecrest Prep, most recently was an assistant at Jesuit High School, where Jake played. All three young men had fathers whose minds they could pick endlessly about football. And obviously, all three also had very famous dads, particularly in the Bay area. When it came to the college recruitment process, however, the three former Buccaneers simply tried to offer the same sort of support that any father would.
"Going through this whole process, my role was simply as a dad," said Brooks. "I was just making sure he had all his questions answered on every university that we visited, laying the cards out there to make sure his decision factors were in place. And that was it. I wasn't putting one school over another in terms of recruiting because they didn't have to recruit me, they had to recruit him. My job was to sit back and be very observant as a dad to make sure my son was getting the honest information that he wanted and get truthful answers to his questions."
Griffin, Decalon and Jake were all born right around the time the Buccaneers were developing into an elite NFL franchise after many years among the downtrodden. Alstott, Brooks and Moore were all important parts of the most memorable era in team history, and they formed lasting bonds with each other and within the community. Now their families are all moving on to a new adventure at the same time.
"It is funny to look back," said Moore. "We all kind of grew up together. Back in the mid-90s, half the team's wives had little kids running around. Griffin and Jake played a little bit of flag football way back when, and played against each other at Shorecrest and Northside. Now they have the opportunity to go on to college and play. It's going to be fun for me to watch him play rather than having to solve problems on the sideline or announce the game from the radio booth. I'll probably be a lot more nervous, though."
Alstott said his family was "blessed and excited" to see Griffin pursuing his college football dreams, and the selection of Purdue makes it even more of a thrill. Chances are, he'll be following the careers of Jake and Decalon closely, as well.
"It's unbelievable, it really is, to have played with these guys and to have the relationships we do…our sons were pretty much born around the same time and now, 18 years later, they're going to continue their dreams and play [college] football," said Alstott. "It's exciting but it makes you feel old."