New Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn grew up rooting for the St. Louis Rams, but he grew into a Bucs fan during the draft process that culminated with Tampa Bay making him their first-round selection Thursday.
"From the start of the draft process, after talking to a bunch of teams and getting to know them and their coaches and their schemes, they just really grew on me,'' Clayborn said of the Bucs.
"I mean, my visit here and at the combine, it was the best. It just seemed like this was the type of environment I wanted to be in and it's definitely the type of defense I want to be in, so when they called yesterday, my eyes just lit up.''
And his heart began beating at a normal pace again. Clayborn said he had a few very anxious moments where he felt like this heart was going to beat out of his chest, first when the Browns traded up to No. 21 in an effort to grab him, and then as he waited for the Bucs to make their pick.
"We got to around 17 or 18 and I was like, 'Man, c'mon,''' Clayborn said. "So I'm looking around at Cameron Jordan, thinking, 'Is his phone ringing? No.' Then at one point I couldn't see him and I was (looking around) and then I saw him and I was like, 'good, phone's not ringing.'
"But then I was thinking, 'Oh, what about (Da'Quan) Bowers, Man, I hope his phone's not ringing.' My heart was just pounding, man, and then it took so long for them to announce the pick. They took forever and I was wondering what's going, but they had to wait for ESPN (to get out of a commercial break).''
Clayborn said a text from his agent saying the Bucs were going to take him didn't ease his tension, because he "didn't believe it.'' It wasn't until he got a call from general manager Mark Dominik, who asked him if was ready to be a Buc, that he believed he was going to Tampa Bay.
"I don't remember anything else about that phone call,'' Clayborn said. "I was too excited. I mean, I really wanted to be a Buc. And I knew that a few other teams liked me.
"New Orleans liked me and Atlanta liked me, but when they traded for (receiver) Julio Jones, I knew they didn't like me anymore. And Cleveland was trading up to get me, but I knew Tampa liked me the most.''
Apparently, the feeling is mutual.