Ronald Jones, only a Bucs rookie for a few weeks, is headed back to USC.
Tampa Bay's new star running back, drafted in the second round and still only 20 years old, is one of 40 players chosen to take part in the NFLPA's annual NFL Rookie Premiere at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this weekend.
The event has interaction with all kinds of NFLPA partners, but its main connection is with the trading card industry, and Panini America. Players will go through a photo shoot wearing their new NFL uniforms so cards this summer can show them with their new teams, even before the season begins.
The 40 rookies will combine to autograph 135,000 cards — that works out to 3,375 signatures each. They'll each put on 140 pieces of memorabilia, which can then be considered "event-worn," with tiny swatches of jerseys or gloves or hats or shoes put into packs of cards.
Players invited tend to be offensive skill-position players, since those are most popular with card collectors. Of the 40 this year, only one is on the defensive side of the ball (Bradley Chubb), so it's less of a snub that Bucs first-rounder Vita Vea wasn't invited.
Last year, the Bucs had TE O.J. Howard, WR Chris Godwin and … RB Jeremy McNichols, who didn't make Tampa Bay's final cut and wound up with the 49ers. For the second year in a row, USF will have a player in attendance — Colts RB Marlon Mack last year, Packers WR Marquez Valdes- Scantling (Lakewood) there this weekend, along with former USF QB Mike White, who finished his college career at Western Kentucky.