TAMPA — If Robert Marve's football career ended this weekend, it would be unfortunate yet oh, so appropriate.
Joining the Bucs on a tryout contract for this weekend's rookie minicamp, the former state of Florida Mr. Football and quarterback at Tampa Plant High has taken a circuitous route back to his hometown for a final shot at furthering his career.
After a transfer from Miami to Purdue and three devastating knee injuries, Marve was back in the place where it all began.
"It's great to be back in Tampa," he said. "I've missed the city. … I kind of had a crazy college career, so I'm glad to be here."
Marve likely won't be among the tryout players signed after this weekend. The Bucs were expected to retain some players for their 90-man offseason active roster, but their quarterback room doesn't have much room with four already there.
But Marve threw well enough to confirm what the Bucs thought about him. He showed some arm strength and a grasp of the offensive concepts put before him.
But if this is the end, the 24-year-old has no regrets and definitely has enjoyed his ride.
"If I'm healthy, I think I have a lot of potential," he said. "I'll go in and work as hard as I can somewhere. This is a blessing and opportunity. I'm not stressing this. This is not life and death to me. I can do other stuff. I enjoy doing other stuff. I enjoy the opportunity. I love playing football. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
Marve threw a career-high 15 touchdowns at Purdue as a senior last season in 10 games but missed three games with a knee injury.
NERVOUS WAIT: The Bucs, by Saturday evening, began the task of evaluating which of 57 tryout prospects had earned the right to join the active roster.
Coach Greg Schiano said there will be roster changes based on the performance of some players during the past two days.
"It is tough (to make the cut)," he said. "It's tough to get invited to a tryout. Forget actually getting signed to a contract. The one thing that I've told all these guys, and I mean it, is … we really are going to evaluate.
The Bucs had all six of their draft picks and each of their 13 college free agents participating this weekend, but the overwhelming majority were there on a tryout basis. They're assured of nothing and receive no compensation outside of room and board and a plane ticket.
But the team isn't shy about adding tryout players. It signed a whopping 13 after last year's rookie camp, with TE Danny Noble among those who wound up on the regular-season 53-man roster.
BULLISH ON LANDI: Among the bay area players participating in the camp, Marve drew most of the attention.
But former USF player Evan Landi appears most likely to actually battle for a spot on the active roster.
The 6-foot-3, 236-pound tight end signed as an undrafted free agent last week. Schiano, a former Rutgers coach, is familiar with Landi from summer camps and from Big East games against the Bulls.
"I go way back with Evan," Schiano said. "I was always a fan of his. … He kind of does everything, did everything for (USF). Now he's settling into one (position), and I think he's got potential. He's got to learn the stuff and see how he can compete with the guys on the roster, but he's going to get a shot."
With veteran Dallas Clark not returning, there's opportunity at tight end. Luke Stocker is back and former Packer Tom Crabtree signed. Landi said the Bucs first showed interest at a local workout before the draft.
"It's a dream come true," Landi said. "When (Schiano) gave me the opportunity with the Tampa Bay Bucs, it was the best fit for me. I'm just going to compete as hard as I can, try to learn the system and then watch the older guys and veterans."
Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.