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Long journey for Bucs’ Ali Marpet: ‘Gosh, it’s hard to get here’

The guard says a lot of the team’s success can be credited to the growth of the rookie class.
Bucs guard Ali Marpet (74) tackles Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) after he took possession of a loose ball during a game earlier this month at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs guard Ali Marpet (74) tackles Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) after he took possession of a loose ball during a game earlier this month at Raymond James Stadium. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Jan. 27
Updated Jan. 27

TAMPA ― Ali Marpet shares a bond with his 2015 draft class, which now only includes left tackle Donovan Smith, and believed the Bucs would become a perennial playoff team when he joined them as a second-round pick from Hobart College.

It took six seasons for Marpet to reach the postseason with the Bucs, and “grateful” is the word he used Wednesday to describe arriving at Super Bowl 55.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Marpet said. “I think coming in in 2015 with Donovan (Smith) and some of those other guys, you really have playoffs and Super Bowls in our head. We were 2-14 here. We’re going to turn this thing around. We’re going to dominate.

“And gosh, it’s hard to get here. I think because it’s been so hard makes this moment that much more precious, if you will, and I feel grateful to be here. It’s been a grind to get here. When I was at Hobart, I thought I would’ve never been put in this position, so I feel grateful for that.”

Marpet has been impressed with the Bucs’ 2020 rookie class, which includes starters such as tackle Tristan Wirfs, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and contributors such as receiver Tyler Johnson and running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

“Yeah, the young guys, I think in order to have this much success, we need the young guys to step up,” Marpet said. “And those guys really have. There’s a lot of good leaders. You just mentioned all those guys. They’ve really done a nice job and they’ve taken things very seriously and they’ve led from the front, which is really important.”

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