TAMPA — Bucs DT Gerald McCoy says it physically pained him when he found out Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, McCoy's mentor and friend, died Sunday.
McCoy said he and Selmon were close and that the former Bucs legend was one of his biggest supporters.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime type guy," said McCoy, who wore the same No. 93 jersey at Oklahoma that Selmon did. "I could never compare to him. I can only be me and pray that one day I'll be as great as he was."
The biggest thing McCoy learned from Selmon, and plans to carry on, came off the field.
"It's not really about yourself," McCoy said. "It's about what you do for others."
McCoy says Selmon was the greatest Sooners football player ever and that his legacy is even bigger in his home state. He remembered fondly the first time the two met, last year in rookie minicamp.
"Somebody said, 'Hey, I think that's Lee Roy Selmon.' And I was like, 'Where?' " McCoy said. "I just like ran to him, because I'm not one of those shy guys. If I see somebody I wanted to meet, I'm going to go up to you. If you don't like it, hey, get over it. He embraced me. He didn't even shake my hand. He immediately gave me a hug and that's just the type of guy he was."
Selmon, 56, died Sunday of complications from a stroke. The Bucs' Hall of Fame defensive end and former University of South Florida athletic director remained in the Tampa Bay area after his playing days. But his popularity never waned in Oklahoma, McCoy said.
"If you think he's big here, he's like — you can't call nobody a God, but hey, he's real close," McCoy said. "In Oklahoma, if you sound like you're about to say, 'Selmon,' they're like, 'Oh, my God!' That's how it is with all the brothers. But with him being who he was, he's huge, he's huge back home."
THE WINNER: As expected, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Earnest Graham won the job as third-down back. RB Kregg Lumpkin was his chief competition, and RB LeGarrette Blount has improved in his pass protecting and pass catching skills.
"We're really comfortable with Earnest and it's not a knock on Kregg Lumpkin or LeGarrette Blount," Olson said.
Olson said Graham, who typically played 8-10 snaps at fullback, will still have that role, he just won't start there.
NEW GUYS: LB Zac Diles, signed Sunday, said he's ready for a backup role and is expected to contribute on special teams.
Diles, who started 30 games for the Texans, said he has played weakside but also played middle linebacker for coach Raheem Morris at Kansas State, and that's where he's expected to back up rookie Mason Foster.
"It was fun," Diles said of playing for Morris at KSU. "It was his first year and it was my first year. We had a really good time."
Olson said they liked rookie TE Zack Pianalto, signed to be the No. 3, from his days at North Carolina. "We liked his athleticism, liked his size and his production," Olson said. "He's going to get thrown into the fire immediately, but we think he's mature enough to handle it."
MEDICAL MATTERS: WR Mike Williams jammed a finger Tuesday, but finished practice and Olson said it's "not an issue." Both CB Aqib Talib (hamstring) and DT Roy Miller (knee) practiced Monday. Miller, who missed most of preseason with a partial tear of his MCL in his left knee, said he's ready for game action.
parker promoted: WR Preston Parker has replaced Micheal Spurlock as the top kick and punt returner, making Spurlock more likely to be inactive Sunday.
Times staff writers Rick Stroud and Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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