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Bucs long shot Lamur's enthusiasm greatly outweighs experience

Sammuel Lamur, a former college quarterback, is playing linebacker in Bucs camp.
Sammuel Lamur, a former college quarterback, is playing linebacker in Bucs camp.
Published Aug. 8, 2015

TAMPA — On a Bucs roster full of small-school hopefuls and unlikely long shots, Sammuel Lamur is a smiling NFL linebacker.

"This is just full of joy," the 6-foot-5, 225-pound rookie said Thursday, the day he was signed by Tampa Bay. "It's been four years, and me, right back at it again, a professional in the NFL. I'm thankful and grateful, just for the moment."

Lamur, 26, played quarterback briefly at Kansas State, but he hasn't played any kind of outdoor football since 2011. His only experience at linebacker is one game — with one tackle — with the Arena Football League's Storm last summer. He suffered a concussion in that game, went on injured reserve and hadn't played anywhere until he suited up with a No. 48 jersey for the Bucs on Thursday.

"God had everything written," he said. "I'm thankful for my size and the way I move. I just took this and ran with it."

Lamur, the tallest Bucs linebacker by 3 inches and the least-experienced at the position by a few years, is very much an outside-the-box signing, but it's the kind general manager Jason Licht likes to try with the 90th spot on the roster.

"No stone unturned," said Licht, who had scouts at Storm practice last year, taking a chance on a player with one tackle in college and the pros combined. "We saw him moving around. They liked him, they think he's an athletic guy. Why not give him an extended tryout?"

If Lamur needs a reminder of overcoming long odds, he needs to only look at his twin brother, Emmanuel, a former Kansas State linebacker who made the Bengals as an undrafted rookie in 2012, missed 2013 with a shoulder injury, then rebounded with 91 tackles in a breakout season last year.

Lamur is far from unknown among the Bucs — he trains in the offseason in Boca Raton with a group of players that includes linebacker Lavonte David. He threw passes in only three games at Kansas State, but one was at the end of a 2010 loss to Nebraska, where David had 16 tackles for the other sideline.

"I know a lot about him. I've been training with him since my rookie year," David said. "He's a great kid. I'm glad to see he's finally getting an opportunity. Right now he's just trying to learn his defense as quickly as he can. … You love when you have a guy who's eager to learn."

Lamur, 9-for-11 for 80 yards in a three-year college career, has his first look at middle linebacker. His first test is whether he can learn enough to get on the field in next weekend's preseason opener at Minnesota.

"I love the fact that he's enthusiastic. He's been hungry," linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson said Friday. "He wanted to get after it right away, and that's the kind of guy he is. It's fun to be around."

Asked about Lamur, coach Lovie Smith pointed to another Arena find, defensive end T.J. Fatinikun, who joined the Bucs last season and now has a good shot at being in the pass-rush rotation in the fall.

"Outside-the-box thinking," Smith said. "When you have a little success with that, you kind of go back to it a little bit. We are always looking; our personnel guys are always looking for athletes that we think can fit in, so we are giving him a look."

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Lamur has a limited window to make an impression. He's unlikely to make the 53-man roster but could still earn six figures by landing one of 10 spots on the team's practice squad.

"He has such limited time at linebacker. Sometimes you can either play it or you can't," Licht said. "We have to see if he has some natural instincts. We know he's athletic. Why not give it a shot?"

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

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