Safety Holliman hopes to make quick impression on Bucs
It's been a humbling year for Gerod Holliman, who a year ago won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back after tying an NCAA record with 14 interceptions as a redshirt sophomore at Louisville.
Holliman opted to leave early for the NFL draft, but wasn't selected until the seventh round by the Steelers, who cut him in preseason. He wasn't good enough to be among the 320 players on NFL practice squads until Wednesday, when the Bucs signed him for the final week of the season.
"I'm very excited," said Holliman, still just 21, who is wearing No. 28 with the Bucs. "I just want to show my knowledge of the game, that I'm a good football player."
Holliman hasn't had much opportunity since the Steelers cut him -- he had a workout with the Bears two weeks ago but wasn't signed. He hopes to show enough this week in practice to convince the Bucs to sign him to a futures contract, keeping him on roster with a chance to compete for a roster spot next fall.
"I've learned the weaknesses I need to work on -- being more aggressive, just hard work really," said Holliman, who must show he has tackling ability to match his ballhawking skills.
One Bucs player familiar with what Holliman can do is rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who was intercepted twice by him when they played last fall. "I was lucky enough to," said Holliman, who saw his second interception end quickly when Winston tackled him and forced a fumble that the Seminoles recovered.
Holliman is the second Thorpe Award winner on the Bucs' roster -- cornerback Johnthan Banks won in 2012 while at Mississippi State.