Ex-LB Gilbert eager to join Bucs as Bill Walsh coaching intern
Much of Tony Gilbert's maturation as an NFL linebacker came under Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith when he coached with the Jaguars and Falcons, and he's eager to rejoin him next month when he spends time with the Bucs as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.
"He had a great impact on me as a player -- all my years in the league, I was under his tutelage," said Gilbert, 36, now a defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach at North Carolina. "It's a great opportunity to learn more from him and (linebackers coach) Mark Duffner, how he prepares. He prepared us as players so we knew everything our opposing team was going to do."
Gilbert, who had 47 tackles in his NFL career, said Smith was the first coach he called when he decided to get into coaching himself, and he's excited for the opportunity he'll have, working with the Bucs during their mandatory minicamp the week of June 12-16.
"He just told me to soak up everything, as much as possible, to learn, keep your head down and grind," Gilbert said.
Another coach working with the Bucs in training camp under the Walsh program is Antonio Bradford, who is the tight ends coach at Tennessee State. Bradford spent 10 years coaching at his alma mater, Alabama State (where he once blocked for NFL QB Tarvaris Jackson) and came to know Bucs special-teams coordinator Nate Kaczor through a mutual friend they had on the Alabama State coaching staff.
"I thank God for giving me an opportunity so grand," said Bradford, 34, who will work with the Bucs' offensive line in the first week of training camp.
The Bucs may announce other Bill Walsh coaching fellows later this summer -- the program has included more than 1,800 coaches in 28 years, including former Bucs coaches Raheem Morris and Lovie Smith, as well as former Bucs assistant and current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and current Bucs defensive line coach Jay Hayes.