Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Nebraska legend Osborne praises Bucs GM Licht

TAMPA

New Bucs GM Jason Licht has worked with the likes of Don Shula, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, but in trying to explain his admiration of Bucs coach Lovie Smith last week, he compared him to one of his biggest and earliest football influences.

"He reminds me, just pulling from my past, of Tom Osborne," Licht said. "Just a man of integrity, honestly. He's not going to (lie to) you, he's going to tell you like it is. He's got a presence about him that's unlike most people."

Licht was on Nebraska's football team from 1989-91 as a walk-on, lettering as a guard in 1991. Osborne, 76, spent 34 years coaching at Nebraska and could not remember one of his former players becoming an NFL general manager.

"He was a guy who worked hard, great work ethic," Osborne said by phone Friday. "Good integrity, intelligent guy. All the qualities we saw in him as a player have served him well in football. He's obviously done well in the NFL, and this is quite an achievement for Jason."

Licht came to Lincoln as a linebacker, added enough bulk to help at guard — even at 6 feet 2, 240 pounds. Stuck behind Will Shields, a finalist on this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot, and another future pro in Brenden Stai, Licht transferred across town to tiny Nebraska Wesleyan for his final two years, playing defensive tackle.

That positional versatility, much like his diverse NFL background in scouting both the colleges and pros, gave him a taste of everything. That has stuck with former linemate Zach Wiegert, who went on to play 12 years in the league.

"He understood all the different parts of the game," said Wiegert, now working in commercial real estate in Omaha. "I think that probably helps him in his job now. He's put in his time, been diligent and worked hard. He's methodically, with different teams, kept getting up and up the ranks. It's like anything else, you work hard and you persevere."

This and that: Licht's old team, the Cardinals, have 15 unrestricted free agents, so he could easily look to familiar faces for free agent bargains. One name to watch: TE Jim Dray, who had 26 catches and two TDs in 2013 after totaling just seven catches in his first three seasons. Another is former Robinson High standout Javier Arenas, who returned kickoffs for Arizona. … Ask Osborne if any other former players have had success in NFL front offices, and the first name he mentions is former Huskers S Eric Stokes, the Bucs' director of college scouting. … Smith has hired three assistants from the Cowboys — son Mikal to coach safeties, assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk (another Nebraska alum) and defensive quality control coach Dave Borgonzi — and it's no coincidence. Smith has friend and colleague Monte Kiffin on the Cowboys staff for well-respected references.

Greg Auman can be reached at (813) 226-3346 and at [email protected]om.

Comments
O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

Add another to the long list of Bucs players and coaches excited about first-round pick Vita Vea: offensive line coach George Warhop.Warhop said the 347-pound defensive tackle from Washington kept showing up as he looked at tape on Pac-12 offensive l...
Published: 05/19/18
Pillow talk: O-line coach says Bucs need tougher approach to run the ball

Pillow talk: O-line coach says Bucs need tougher approach to run the ball

TAMPA — At least he stopped short of calling them soft. That's not a word you ever want to use when describing an NFL player, much less the entire offensive line. That would be a tough pillow to swallow.But it's clear George Warhop didn't like ...
Published: 05/19/18
Pop Warner to honor Bucs’ Gerald McCoy as ‘Inspiration to Youth’

Pop Warner to honor Bucs’ Gerald McCoy as ‘Inspiration to Youth’

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be honored at Pop Warner's annual "All-American Scholars Banquet" in Orlando with the national sports organization's "Inspiration to Youth" award.McCoy, who has been to six straight Pro Bowls, is the first-ever...
Published: 05/18/18
Land O’Lakes grad Shaheed Salmon gets contract with Bucs

Land O’Lakes grad Shaheed Salmon gets contract with Bucs

Most appropriately named player on the Bucs roster? Undrafted rookie Shaheed Salmon, a linebacker from Land O'Lakes who has quickly shown the ability to fight against the current and get to where he wants to go.Salmon, 22, wasn't drafted and didn't h...
Published: 05/18/18
Mike Evans, Jameis Winston among top 25 players under 25, Pro Football Focus says

Mike Evans, Jameis Winston among top 25 players under 25, Pro Football Focus says

Mike Evans and Jameis Winston are two of the 25 best young players in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.In the website's Top 25 Under 25 list, Evans ranks 11th and Winston ranks 20th. Evans is the highest-ranked receiver, and Winston is the hi...
Published: 05/18/18
More praise for Bucs WR Chris Godwin: ‘I see him as a starter’

More praise for Bucs WR Chris Godwin: ‘I see him as a starter’

Perhaps no Bucs player is drawing more consistent praise from coaches than second-year receiver Chris Godwin, who emerged in the second half last year and got his first career touchdown on the Bucs' final pass of the year to beat the Saints in the se...
Published: 05/17/18
George Warhop on Donovan Smith: ‘You have something here that’s special’

George Warhop on Donovan Smith: ‘You have something here that’s special’

A year ago, Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop was unwavering in his support for left tackle Donovan Smith, and on Thursday, he again made it clear he considers the fourth-year player among the best at his position."I don't think I'd take anybod...
Published: 05/17/18
Bucs OC Todd Monken to Jameis Winston: ‘Let’s not try so hard’

Bucs OC Todd Monken to Jameis Winston: ‘Let’s not try so hard’

Jameis Winston doesn't lack for leadership qualities, but sometimes he can go over the top. Whether it's eating Ws before games, picking fights with opposing defensive backs or playing hurt, the Bucs quarterback can put added pressure on himself.Bucs...
Published: 05/17/18
Jameis Winston: Most underrated quarterback of 2017?

Jameis Winston: Most underrated quarterback of 2017?

To the casual observer, Jameis Winston had a disappointing 2017 season. He missed three games because of a shoulder injury, and in the games he did play in, the Buccaneers had a 3-10 record.Did Winston regress? No. In fact, he might have been th...
Published: 05/17/18
Vernon Hargreaves has the starting right cornerback job in the Bucs base defense. For now.

Vernon Hargreaves has the starting right cornerback job in the Bucs base defense. For now.

It's Vernon Hargreaves' job to lose. He will begin the off-season as the Bucs starting right cornerback and move to the slot when the team goes to five defensive backs in their nickel package."We told everybody that we want everybody to come in with ...
Published: 05/17/18