TAMPA — The Bucs introduced first-round draft pick Vita Vea at a news conference Friday afternoon at One Buc Place.
Here's the transcript from his press conference (watch video below):
General manager Jason Licht: "Dirk and I both said a lot of things about Vita last night and we're still obviously very excited about it. To have a guy of his size and athleticism and power and all of those things are great, but to have a guy of his character and football character, is the kind of guy we're putting a strong emphasis [on] We always have, but we're putting an even stronger emphasis on getting. It's more than icing on the cake. Vita is the type of guy that as a general manager and a head coach, that you dream of getting, in terms of his ability and then what he brings in his character too. With that said, I'm going to turn it over to Vita to say a few words."
Vita Vea: "I just want to start off by thanking the Glazer family and Mr. Licht and the rest of the Buccaneers staff for blessing me with this opportunity to be here. I am really fortunate and I'm excited to be here and excited to get things rolling. It's a life-long dream that came through last night. Go Bucs."
On what it will be like to be able to learn from teammates like Gerald McCoy:
Vea: "I think it's amazing. You get Pro Bowlers like that and to be able to be in the same locker room with them and being able to pick their brain from their knowledge that they gained over the years that they played. I think that's going to be really cool for me because the past two years at Washington, I've been that guy to help out the younger kids. You know, to come up in the next level and take a step back and get to experience that and kind of just be a little kid with these guys and learning. Coach Petersen always said to always come in with that eighth-grader mentality, always wanting to learn and stuff like that. I'm definitely really excited."
On what he learned from his parents and how they dealt with his huge appetite as a child:
Vea: "I learned a lot and I feel like the biggest thing that I learned from them was hard work. One thing I always saw was them working and nothing was ever given to them. They worked for everything they had. Both of my parents migrated here from the Islands of Tonga. They didn't have family out here or anything so they had to work from the get go and work their way up with all of that. It didn't matter to them that they had to work multiple jobs, go out there and do something new that they'd never done. That's what I learned from them and picking it up over the years, seeing how hard they worked and it just carried over to me. Not even them working at their jobs, they worked their jobs and came back and had to deal with us kids and take care of us. You know, we were all-but especially me-ate all of the food in the house. So it was definitely hard for her trying to keep up with my appetite. My brother, he was smaller than me but he could eat a lot as well so it was definitely hard trying to cook for us and make food for us throughout the day."
On living in a hotel after his family lost their home and enjoying the buffet:
Vea: "That's when we were younger. Me and my brother, we would just eat anything. We would go to the dessert aisle and stuff 10 cookies in our pockets. In the middle of the night we would wake up and eat them [laughs]. Those are good times. It was rough times for us, but I look back upon it and it was actually a good time for us. It builds character and we definitely learned a lot from that. I feel like that's what brought our family together and made us stronger."
On the biggest steak he's ever eaten:
Vea: "I feel kind of high maintenance right now because I took a bunch of visits and ate a lot of great steaks. Probably 30 oz."
On how playing multiple schemes at Washington helped his development:
Vea: "I feel like that's definitely really helpful, with the staff back at Washington and what they did with us. When I first made that transition to play three [technique] and I played D-tackle, it was kind of difficult for me because things go at a different pace. I was playing a zero technique and everything happens faster. But, when you move outside to the three technique, the play takes a little bit longer to develop so you have to figure out the different speed, the game speed of each position. It was definitely helpful to get the experience and play all of those positions. I'm really blessed to have [Washington defensive line] Coach [Ikaika] Malloe to come up and give us that opportunity to play across the board."
On what football has taught him about dealing with adversity on and off the field:
Vea: "For me, it's someone who can persevere through adversity. I feel like that's what this sport, this game of football, teaches us. [Football teaches] how to deal with adversity and that carries over into life. I always go back and relate it back to that you can't dwell on one play because if you dwell on the last play that you messed up, you're going to keep messing up. Same thing goes for life. You make a mistake and you keep thinking about it, you're just going to stay in that hole so you just have to dig yourself out and hope for the best and keep striving for the best."
On what he knew about the Buccaneers before being drafted:
Vea: "I'm going to be honest, I was more of a West Coast guy because, you know, I grew up on the West Coast so I didn't know too much about the South and the East Coast. I knew a little bit being that [former University of Washington players] Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Daniel Te'o [Nesheim] played here in the past. I knew of them when they played here. And obviously, Warren Sapp. One of the greatest defensive tackles to ever play the sport. I knew a lot of him and some people say he's the 'G.O.A.T.' [greatest of all time]. In my opinion, he is as well. I definitely knew that the Bucs carry a great tradition of having great D-linemen and I'm just honored to be in that same spotlight and be looked upon as one of those guys that can continue the legacy."
On Florida humidity:
Vea: "I figured it out right when I stepped off the plane."
On how important it is to have chemistry between defensive linemen:
Vea: "I think it's really important. Back at Washington we were really successful because we were all close and we didn't only hang out with each other in the locker room but off the field [too]. I feel like the d-line group are the funniest guys on the team. You go back to Washington and you ask about who the jokesters [were] and they'll say the D-linemen. I feel like that goes back to, it all connects together with everything. You get a D-line group like that that has a good time together, that jokes around and understands everyone's humor and it carries on to the football field because it starts to build chemistry and stuff like that."
On playing quarterback in high school:
Vea: "I tried to play quarterback [laughs]. It didn't work out."
On if the team would consider giving Vea goal-line carries, since he played running back in high school:
Coach Dirk Koetter: "I'll have to see. He looked pretty good when he was doing it, the tape I watched. The last guy I had like that that was a high school running back playing D-line is Terrell Suggs and his career has worked out pretty good."
On if he's been inspired by other Polynesian football players:
Vea: "Definitely. Being Tongan or Pacific Islander, you look up to those guys. You see those guys and being of that descent, you see the Haloti [Ngata] and Troy Polamalu and Junior Seau, guys like that. You see them make it and you just sit back and [think], 'Oh, if they made it then I probably have a chance too.' That's why I feel honored as well. I feel like the younger community and the Tongan culture and Samoan culture as well, they see me and hopefully I'm an inspiration to them that they may get motivated and continue to work and strive to be in this position."
On what he wants Buccaneers fans to know about him off the field:
Vea: "I'm someone who's really playful and charismatic away from the football field. I love to have fun and joke around and have a good time. Also, I'm really caring and loving on the people who care about me and the people I care about as well."
On the moment when he got the call from the Buccaneers:
Vea: "It was still kind of surreal for all of us. I felt like we're still all in disbelief. Even once I saw my phone ringing and the caller ID said Tampa Bay, I felt like everything froze in the room for like an hour. But everyone said I picked up the phone really fast and grabbed it and to me, everything happened so slowly. I felt like I was staring at the phone forever. But, it was a really exciting moment for me and my parents and my family as well."
On his goal of buying his parents a house:
Vea: "It's just to make sure that they're comfortable and they're taken care of. I feel like I owe it to them, especially for all of the work that they put in for me and all of the money that they spent on food for me [laughs]."
On the aspect of his game where he has the most room to grow:
Vea: "I think I have a lot more room to grow on my pass rush skills. I feel like this past year I haven't really had the opportunity to really work on and showcase my pass rush skills. I know it's there and I know that that part of my game is what I need to work on the most."
On lifting a rock in Tahiti:
Vea: "In Tahiti, their strong man competition is to lift these heavy boulders, these heavy rocks that are shaped differently than the normal circle blocks that body builders lift. It's in an awkward position to lift, so it's mainly all about technique and how high you lift it. But in Tahiti, I'll have to explain it because this is what they believe over there in Tahiti. They believe that the rock carries a spirit with it and that the spirit only allows you to carry it if you're calm. It chooses the person that it lets carry it. There's only been one person on the whole island to every lift that rock."
On the message that the Buccaneers' defensive linemen want to give fans about their ability toughness:
Vea: "That's a big question for me [laughs]. I'm just trying to take it all in. I just got here. Hopefully we're able to do great and be able to really compete out there on the field."
On the mentality that a defensive lineman's job is to 'beat the crap out of the guy in front of you':
Vea: "Most definitely. Being a defensive lineman, you really have to love playing defensive line because nobody else wants to go out there and bang their head every single play. I don't look at it that way, but that's what I was always coached upon in my [upbringing]. I don't want to make any predictions but, yeah, I'm trying to live up to that hype."
On if the team has concerns about Vea adjusting to the Florida heat:
Koetter: "No, he's going to be fine. You have to get used to it, like anything else. He's going to have plenty of time starting here in about two weeks and rookie minicamp, he's going to get out there. He might weigh 347 pounds or whatever it is but all you have to do is turn that tape on and this guy plays like a 300, 310-pound player. [He has] unbelievable athleticism for his size. We already talked about his power and his quickness. But just turn that Washington State game on if you don't think he can pass rush. Watch that tape."