Bucs' draftee Kaelin Clay hopes to be special

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, 3, stretches with the team Friday, May 8, 2015 at One Buc Place in Tampa.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, 3, stretches with the team Friday, May 8, 2015 at One Buc Place in Tampa.
Published May 9, 2015

TAMPA — The Bucs hope sixth-round draft pick Kaelin Clay can be the answer to their return game on punts and kickoffs, and the receiver is embracing those high expectations.

"I like challenges. I know the role that I'm coming in playing," Clay said after the first practice of rookie minicamp Friday afternoon. "I know how many returners they went through last year. I know that's a spot they want to get better at. I want to help the team as much as I can. … It's not going to be given to me."

Clay, a receiver from Utah, led all of Division I-A football last season with four returns — three on punts, another on kickoffs, this after totaling six touchdowns on returns in two years of junior college. He'd like to contribute as a receiver as well, but knows his best chance as a rookie is likely in the return game.

"I'm trying to get on the field as a receiver and be a complete player," Clay said. "Hopefully, I'll find my way on the field on the offensive side of the ball, but right now, I'm a special-teams player that's getting reps at receiver."

BRING THE HEAT: Second-round OLs Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet went to college in Pennsylvania and New York, respectively, so this weekend only gives them a small taste of the Florida heat they'll play in this fall.

"Today wasn't too bad, honestly, but from what I hear it's going to get real bad," said Marpet, who could start at right guard. "I'll have all summer to adjust to it, and I know there are people who have made the adjustment."

Smith, who played at as much as 352 pounds last fall, is close to 325 pounds now and said he'll work with the team on how best to handle the heat.

"I'm definitely going to get with the trainers and nutritionist and make sure they tell me what to do," he said. "There's a big difference, but that is all part of it. I'm ready for it and up for the challenge. It's not even a challenge, honestly. It's getting used to it, day in and day out."

CHANGES: The Bucs have made changes to their front office as is often the case after the NFL draft, with director of pro scouting Scott Cohen no longer with the team and four staffers moving up in related promotions.

Rob McCartney, who had worked as a national scout last year, is now the team's pro scouting coordinator, which puts him directly under general manager Jason Licht and director of player personnel Jon Robinson. Byron Kiefer was promoted from college scout to national scout, Donovan Cotton was promoted from scouting assistant to college scout, and former Jefferson QB Zack Grossi was promoted from scouting assistant to pro scout. The Bucs have also hired Shane Scannell, who went to Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) and played offensive line at Wesleyan, as a scouting assistant.

THIS AND THAT: Bucs director of team security Henry Duran, who spent 30 years with the Tampa Police Department, is no longer with the team. He had worked with the team's security operations for 16 years, the last four years full time. Longtime employee Andres Trescastro returns to that role. … Bucs rookie FB Joey Iosefa of Hawaii was born and raised in American Samoa. He said he has known Titans QB Marcus Mariota since he was in fifth grade, as Mariota would visit relatives in the same village in Samoa.

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Contact Greg Auman at and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.