At Miami, OL Anthony Wollschlager was one of the Hurricanes' most consistent offensive linemen in 2005 and 2006
Jon Gruden said the Bucs' rookie mini-camp of last weekend, in which 28 unsigned free agents participated on tryout contracts, was a good opportunity to see if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had missed anything during the 2007 NFL Draft.
In other words, after the seven rounds of the draft and the first wave of post-draft signings were complete, did any players slip through who were deserving of spots on a training camp roster?
The Buccaneers came up with two answers: Louisiana-Monroe cornerback Chaz Williams and Miami guard Anthony Wollschlager.
Tampa Bay signed Williams and Wollschlager on Tuesday, two days after the pair of rookies completed the team's three-day camp at One Buccaneer Place. Also, the Bucs announced that fourth-year guard Jeb Terry, a restricted free agent since March 2, has signed his tender offer to remain with the team in 2007.
To make room on the 80-man offseason roster for those additions, the Bucs released three players on Tuesday, including two other undrafted free agents who had signed just before the weekend mini-camp – tackle Jed Prisby and fullback Mike McFadden. The other player released was first-year wide receiver Levon Thomas, who signed with the Buccaneers on January 17.
The Buccaneers' rookie/tryout camp has produced interesting prospects in the past, including running back Derek Watson, cornerback James Patrick and quarterback Jared Allen. Barring additional roster moves, Williams and Wollschlager will get to battle for a spot on the regular-season roster when the Buccaneers head to training camp in late July.
The 6-0, 190-pound Williams played and started three seasons at ULM, finishing his Warhawk career with 189 tackles, eight interceptions, four fumble recoveries and 12 passes defensed. He scored four touchdowns during his career, including one last season on an interception return in a 35-0 victory over Florida International.
Last year, Williams finished third on the Warhawks' defense with 67 tackles and grabbed two interceptions. The Lake Charles, Louisiana native is the second member of ULM's 2006 secondary to find a spot in the NFL this spring, as cornerback Kevin Payne was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 2007 draft.
Wollschlager (6-4, 288) started all 25 games at center for the Hurricanes over the past two seasons. Considered an outstanding technician, he was the only returning starter in 2006 from Miami's 2005 offensive line, and he helped the Hurricanes rush for 123.3 yards per game and score 13 touchdowns on the ground.
After serving as a reserve at center and guard in 15 games over his first two seasons, Wollschlager won the starting center spot in the spring of 2005 and emerged as perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the Hurricanes' offense. Named the team's Most Improved Offensive Player in 2005, he led the team with 21 "pancake" blocks and graded out second on the offensive line to tackle Eric Winston, who was a third-round draft choice of the Houston Texans. Wollschlager hails from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Prisby and McFadden were two of the 10 undrafted rookies signed by the Buccaneers last Thursday and Friday. Prisby started for two seasons at Hofstra, alma mater of famous undrafted free agent Wayne Chrebet. McFadden played defensive tackle at Grand Valley State but was given a look at the fullback position by the Buccaneers.
Thomas signed a 2007 contract with the Buccaneers after previous opportunities with Indianapolis and New Orleans. Most recently, he spent the 2006 training camp with the Saints.