Before Mike Alstott became best known for his devastating running style and ability to bulldoze a defender, Alstott made his mark as a rookie on the swing pass out of the backfield. No one is comparing the two, and they shouldn't, but the hands Dan Vitale displayed in college were on display at Bucs practice Sunday morning on a very familiar play.
Vitale took a swing pass and scrambled for a long touchdown early in practice Sunday morning.
Thinking back to April’s NFL draft there was not a lot of buzz about the 197th pick, Dan Vitale. Selected with the Bucs 6th round option, Vitale was noted for his H-Back play. As a collegiate player, he displayed both his backfield blocking abilities and was a consistent pass catcher.
Since he has hit the field here in Tampa, Vitale has impressed coaches, media, and the fans. While picking Vitale, the Buccaneers did not resign FB Jovorskie Lane. At Northwestern, Vitale was that Wing-Back player in college. He stated that they really didn’t have a name for his position, so they just called it ‘Super-Back’.
“I think that I might not be the biggest guy out there especially as a tight end, but the combination is still being around 240 [pounds], 242, and then being able to run-that’s a great mismatch for a lot of teams,” Vitale said. “Being able to put me in those different spots and creating different situations could be a strength for us. I’ve just got to keep learning, take it one step at a time, and definitely be a little more physical out there.”
As mentioned previously, Lane was not re-signed for the full back position, so Vitale is a viable candidate to fit that position. The Bucs have been known to put TE Luke Stocker in the backfield, and still may. But Vitale might be a better fit. Either way, it’s nice to know that you have a hard-nosed full back, along with a tight end that has great hands.
In professional football, it’s hard enough learning one position, much less multiple positions. Vitale was asked about that effort.
“At first it was definitely difficult, but that’s where I hope my Northwestern education comes into it,” Vitale said. “Being able to learn fast and retain it all as well, it’s a lot of detail. But now that we’ve gone through these installs a couple times, three, four times, now it’s down to the little details and it’s getting a lot simpler. You’re able to go out there and react and play fast rather than think so much.”
The tight end position happens to be quite sufficient this season. There are 7 TE’s, not including Vitale, on the 90-man roster. With obviously players such as: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Cameron Brate, Luke Stocker, Brandon Myers, Tevin Westbrook, and several rookie TE’s all performing quite well, this gives the Bucs one of the deepest TE units in recent history. Clearly, spots will dwindle down as cut dates come around. The fact that there is no other full back on the team sets up Vitale for a position that’s his to lose.
After a lengthy interview with some of the media, I got a chance to chat with Vitale for a minute. We briefly spoke about the heat, and told me, “Whatever I have to do to make this team I will do.” This young man is very impressive. I walked with him to a group of young children where he kindly took pictures and photos with the kids for an extended amount of time. Vitale will be a great addition to the Buccaneers, and the city of Tampa.