No college football program had more players on NFL rosters at the start of the season than LSU, which had 43, including six who will play in Sunday's Bucs-Cardinals game in Arizona, all age 26 or younger, with four on the Cardinals defense.
Bucs receiver Russell Shepard, the lone offensive player among the six, said he's stayed close with his former Tigers teammates and is looking forward to the chance to go up against them on Sunday.
"I'm close with all of them," Shepard said. "I spent two years with (Pat) Peterson. He was the model guy, taught everybody how to come in, be a pro, do certain things. Me and Tyrann (Mathieu) are pretty close. (Linebacker) Kevin Minter was my roommate for three years. (Cornerback) Tharold Simon, I worked out with him in Houston pre-draft when we came out together. Even Lamar Louis, who they just put on (injured reserve), I recruited him."
The Bucs have Shepard and second-year linebacker Kwon Alexander from LSU, and Shepard said the high level of competition at LSU helps create the high level of success at the pro level, something he remembers from his days there from 2009-12.
"They do a good job of instilling us to compete, compete, compete," Shepard said. "Everybody has talent -- it's a big school, but the way we compete, I think that's why we have so many guys thriving in the league."
Shepard has always played on offense, working as a QB, RB and WR at LSU, but some NFL teams worked him out as a cornerback before the 2013 NFL draft, including current Bucs GM Jason Licht, who was then in the Cardinals' front office.
"I could have a lot more money if I played corner right now," Shepard jokes. "But the things I've seen Patrick Peterson do in practice, the things I've seen Tyrann Mathieu do in practice, those are some of my favorite players."