Bucs Sign RB Hanspard To One-Year Contract

March 25 – Buccaneer Magazine first reported Tampa Bay had worked out running back Byron Hanspard on March 21, and on Monday, the Buccaneers signed the former Atlanta Falcon to a one-year contract. Hanspard will join running backs Aaron Stecker and former Arizona RB Michael Pittman, who signed to a five-year contract with the Bucs earlier on Monday.

As Buccaneer Magazine first reported on Mar. 21, Tampa Bay worked out running backs Curtis Enis and Byron Hanspard. While the Bucs were not impressed with Enis' workout, they did come away delighted with Hanspard's. On Monday, the Buccaneers signed Hanspard to a one-year contract.

Earlier Monday, the Buccaneers signed free agent RB Michael Pittman to a five-year contract. Click here to view Tampa Bay's current 2002 roster.

Hanspard (5-foot-10, 200) was Atlanta's second-round draft pick (41st overall) in 1997, and played three years with the Falcons. In 1997, Hanspard had 53 rushes for 335 yards (6.3 avg.) including a 77-yard jaunt. He also contributed six catches for 53 yards and one touchdown.

Not only is Hanspard expected to compete for playing time with running backs Michael Pittman, Aaron Stecker and fullback Mike Alstott, he could also challenge Stecker and wide receiver Frank Murphy for the team's primary kick return job. He was one of the Falcons' primary kick returners, returning 40 kicks for 987 yard (24.6 avg.) and two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder.

In 1999, he saw his most significant duty, starting five games and rushing 136 times for 383 yards (2.8 avg.) and one touchdown. He also had 10 catches for 93 yards. Hanspard logged one 100-yard game -- a 102-yard rushing effort against Arizona on December 26. Atlanta released him the following season and has been out of football ever since.

In college, Hanspard won the Doak Walker Award in 1996, which is given annually to the best running back in the country. He finished his illustrious career at Texas Tech with 4,579 rushing yards, 5,535 all-purpose yards, and 38 rushing touchdowns. The 4,579 rushing yards surpassed Bam Morris and James Gray into the top spot in school record books.

Hanspard's school-record breaking '96 season included rushing for over 200 yards in five straight games, with four coming on consecutive weekends with 272, 214, 224, and 287 yards on the ground. Hanspard was a first-team consensus All-America, and became just the sixth runner in NCAA history to amass 2,000 rushing yards in a season with his 2,084 in 11 games during the 1996 season. The 2,084 was the fifth-best single season mark in college football history, and shattered the previous Texas Tech record of 1,752 held by Morris.

He finished his Red Raider college career with 16 consecutive 100-yard games, while registering 22 100-yard games in his career. Hanspard's 189.4 rushing average per game in '96 was the fifth-best mark ever in a single season by an NCAA runner (Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Ed Marinaro, Troy Davis). His all-purpose total of 206.91 a game last season was second only to Troy Davis' mark of 214.91.

Hanspard was a threat to go the distance on any carry, but was also a workhorse back at Texas Tech, logging the ball 28 times or more in seven of his last 11 college games

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