TAMPA — Even in the wake of the recent dismissal of Tom Crabtree, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have a crowd of players at the tight end position.
With Brandon Myers, Tim Wright and Austin Seferian-Jenkins leading a group that also includes longtime holdover Luke Stocker, the Bucs are a half-dozen deep at that position.
The sheer numbers can make it difficult for a young player trying to work his way into the league to make a good impression on his coaches, but one such hopeful seems to have done that.
Cameron Brate, an undrafted Harvard product signed off a tryout a week ago, has quickly established himself as a contender for a roster spot, and not just with his athletic skill.
“I try not to get into too much detail about where they’re from, but you expect a guy from Harvard not to make a lot of mental mistakes, and he hasn’t,’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith said of Brate. “But it’s been more than just that.
“We’ve seen athletic ability from him. We see a tight end that can run, catch the ball, and he’s made some plays. When you’re coming in behind the 8-ball, you’ve got to make the coaches take notice, and he’s done that, catching the ball and knowing what to do.”
Brate’s impressive start with the Bucs may come as a surprise to a lot of fans, but it doesn’t come as a great surprise to a lot of scouts. At least not the one who attended his pro day.
A unanimous All-Ivy League first teamer last year, Brate ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash, did 24 reps on the 225-pound bench press and recorded a 33½-inch vertical leap and 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump at that pro day.
And history suggests he’s not just a workout warrior. The 6-foot-5, 249-pound Brate left Harvard ranked fourth in school history with 18 career touchdown catches, and was second on the team with 25 receptions for 403 yards and five touchdowns last year.