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Bucs rookie minicamp: Your guide to 30 tryout players

Australian punter? SEC basketball player? Obscure small-school mascots? They're all here.
Samford LB Shaheed Salmon, shown at Land O'Lakes High in 2013, is one of 30 tryout players at Bucs rookie minicamp this weekend.
Samford LB Shaheed Salmon, shown at Land O'Lakes High in 2013, is one of 30 tryout players at Bucs rookie minicamp this weekend. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)
Published May 11, 2018

TAMPA — Ah, the fleeting existence of an NFL tryout player. Thirty prospects are Buccaneers for the next two days, taking part in the team's rookie minicamp and hoping to show enough to merit a free-agent contract when the weekend is over.

Bucs receiver Adam Humphries, with 143 catches in the last three years, was a tryout player in 2015. Tight end Cameron Brate, with 14 touchdown catches in the past two seasons, missed the cut with the Vikings as a tryout player in 2014 before earning a spot with the Bucs.

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So here, briefly and only after some significant cursory Googling, is a line of two about all 30 tryout players. Can you spot the next $6-million-a-year star?

NATHAN BAZATA, DL, Iowa: Three-year starter at Iowa, and listed as DL but likely a DT at 287 pounds. He rocked a beard/mullet combo at Iowa, as seen in this outstanding video.

JAKE BENNETT, C, Colorado State: First-team All-Mountain West, and helped Rams hold Alabama's defense (with future NFL DTs) without a sack in their game last year.

BRIAN BRIDGEWATER, TE, LSU: Never played college football, only one year in high school. Played college basketball for Tigers, as a teammate of Ben Simmons. Full story here. Cool Twitter handle: @

JOSH CARDIELLO, G, Chattanooga: Started his career at Georgia, started two years for Mocs at right guard, then last season at center.

ALEC DHAENENS, FB, Boise State: Was listed as a tight end at Boise, had 13 catches for 175 yards, two TDs as senior. Pronounced "DAY-nenz."

DEVIN FARRIOR, G, Southern Miss: His first three college seasons had current Bucs OC Todd Monken as his head coach. Started at center last year after working at guard up to that point.

RILEY FERGUSON, QB, Memphis: Still not sure why he wasn't signed somewhere. Last two years: 70 TDs, 19 INTs, 63 percent completions. Will challenge signee Austin Allen for Bucs' No. 4 QB spot in training camp. Started college career at Tennessee with Bucs QBs coach Mike Bajakian.

RUBEN HOLCOMB, C, Indianapolis: Small-school mascot quiz … I love that UIndy's site rotates multiple photos on player bio page. Greyhounds!

JORDAN HUFF, RB, Northern Illinois: Averaged 6.5 yards/carry for Huskies, went off for 173 yards and 3 TDS in 2016 win vs. Eastern Michigan.

CHRISTIAN JOHNSON, DL, Memphis: 6-5, 255, so he's an end. Had 9.5 sacks in last three seasons. TE Alan Cross made Bucs' roster as undrafted rookie out of Memphis two years ago.

JORDAN MARTIN, S, Syracuse: Was a corner at Toledo three years, then grad-transferred to Syracuse, played free safety. Played in Shrine Game.

NICK MCBEATH, LB, Holy Cross: Mascot quiz … Smallish at 6-1, 219, but had 100+ tackles each of last two years. Went to Christopher Columbus High in Miami, alma mater of Brian Griese and Mike Shula … Crusaders!

CHRIS MURRAY, WR, Arkansas State: Went to Tampa's King High School, had nine TDs as Red Wolves senior.

MARK MYERS, CB, Southeastern: Mascot quiz. … NAIA school is just up the road in Lakeland. Had a 73-yard INT return TD vs. Webber International. Mascot? Fire!

TRISTAN NICKELSON, T, Texas: Started 12 games in three years at right tackle. Twitter bio says he is an ordained minister.

GRIFFIN OAKES, K, Indiana: Two-time Big Ten Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year. Went 16-for-17 on field goals as senior, long of 51.

AUSTIN PRATT, C, UTSA: Mascot quiz. … Started at center and guard, also put up 33 reps of 225 pounds on bench press at pro day. Roadrunners!

DARIUS PRICE, S, Siena Heights: Mascot quiz. … Good size at 6-2, 217, has played corner. NAIA football program only around since 2011, so he'd be their first NFL player. Full story here. Saints!

SHAHEED SALMON, LB, Samford: Land O'Lakes graduate led the Bulldogs with 109 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss as a senior.

DANTE SAWYER, DL, South Carolina: He’s 6-3, 275, so could play end or 3-tech inside. Tied for NCAA lead with five forced fumbles last season. Cool Twitter handle:@

VAN SMITH, S, Clemson: Had 114 tackles as a junior in 2016, once had 86-yard INT (not for TD!) against Ohio State.

ROBERT STANLEY, DL, Fresno State: Converted linebacker played end at 6-3, 245 as senior, had 11.5 tackles for loss. Brother Ronnie plays for Ravens. Cool Twitter handle: @

NATHAN THEAKER, G, Wayne State: Not a rookie — cut by Saints this week, spent time on Saints' and Cowboys' practice squads last season.

JERRY UGOKWE, T, William and Mary: Our website has an ampersand allergy (honest) so apologies for spelling that out. Another non-rookie, was with Colts and Saints in preseason last year, two weeks on Redskins' practice squad.

DREW WILLIAMS, LS, South Carolina: Was a tryout player at Bucs rookie minicamp last year. Only other snapper right now is Florida's Drew Ferris, with last year's starter, Garrison Sanborn, still unsigned in free agency.

TRE' WILLIAMS, LB, Auburn: Captain last year, 188 career tackles, limited by shoulder last year. Bucs drafted a teammate in CB Carlton Davis.

SEAN WILSON, DL, Tulane: He's 6-4, 295, so a DT. Six career sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss with the Green Wave.

RYAN WOLPIN, RB, Boise State: Rushed for 448 yards and six TDs as senior, playing primarily on special teams before that.

JAYLEN ZACHERY, WR, Central Missouri: Mascot quiz. … Had five returns for touchdowns in college. His coach, Jim Svoboda, was Jason Licht's coach at Nebraska Wesleyan in 1992-93. Full story here. Mascot? Mules!

JOE ZEMA, P, Incarnate Word: Offense goes three-and-out, who isn't asking for a Zema, right? He's Australian, averaged 46.7 yards per punt as a senior, with 31 punts of 50 yards or longer. Transfer from Australian Catholic University.

Contact Greg Auman at Follow @gregauman


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