Beavers Beat Writer Paul Buker Talks To Joe

May 1st, 2009

Bucs seventh round draft pick wide receiver Sammie Stroughter of Oregon State could be the steal of the draft.

[Working to get some background on the Bucs new draft picks, Joe is reaching out to those in the Fourth Estate who know them better than most. Joe caught up with Oregon State beat writer Paul Buker of the Oregonian to get feedback on Bucs seventh round draft pick wide receiver Sammie Stroughter.]

What are your overall impressions of Sammie Stroughter? Was he overrated or underrated?

Stroughter doesn’t have Darius Heyward-Bey speed, but I’ve seen both guys up close and I would take Sammie. Oregon State coach Mike Riley said to anyone who would listen, the guy runs very precise routes, and he can change direction so fast it will make your head swim. More important, make a defensive back’s head swim.

I definitely think he was under-rated in the weeks before the draft (too many red flags), but that happens to a lot of guys who turn out to be pretty good players. Then again, remember I’m the guy who swore on his mother’s grave that ex-OSU WR Mike Hass would find a home in the NFL, and we’re still waiting.

How much did his bout with depression set him back? Do you think this scared off NFL teams?

My heart went out to the kid a couple years ago when we suspected (before OSU’s fall camp in 2007) that something was seriously wrong. It gave me an opportunity to do some research on top-level athletes and depression – which affects millions of Americans, athlete and non-athlete – and I thought it was a very brave move for Sammie to go public a few months later, in the hope that it would inspire others to talk with someone and get help.

Seriously, it became less worrying about Sammie Stroughter the football player and more worrying about Sammie the person for the OSU coaches and his teammates. There was a time during his darker days when coach Riley (fearful that something terrible might happen) sent a player over to his apartment just to check up on him.

Sammie’s depression cast a dark cloud over the entire program for a time – that is how much he meant to those people. I definitely think the entire episode (and it’s never over when you are taking medication for the condition) scared off some teams.

If there is one thing I want to get across to Bucs’ fans, from the perspective of someone who covered him from the day he signed his letter-of-intent, is that he has a very special appeal. When the real Sammie is present, he lights up a room with his enthusiasm, just as he lit up every practice he attended and got his teammates pumped up.

I mean, good grief, the kid used to make acrobatic catches in practice and then leap to his feet and high-five media members!

Was there a game or a play of Stroughter’s that jumped out at you when you first thought, “Damn, this guy’s going to get paid to play on Sundays.”

Two things come to mind immediately. For one, the 70-yard punt return that helped beat No. 3 USC at Reser Stadium in Corvallis in 2006. The noise level in that place sent chills down my back.

Last year, with Oregon State one win away from crashing the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965, Sammie was the star of pre-game introductions when the seniors popped out of the big inflatable OSU helmet one-by-one. OSU fans absolutely LOVED him, and when he came roaring out, arms waving, fist pumping, you got the feeling (which was erroneous) that someway, somehow, OSU would beat arch-rival Oregon even if star tailback Jacquizz Rodgers was on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

A lot of fans remarked later that if the rest of the guys had been as charged up as Stroughter, maybe OSU wins the Civil War game.

Anything off the field that readers might find interesting that few know about (i.e. cured Athlete’s foot, saved a woman from a burning car, frolicked with a Hollywood starlet, sold popcorn at a TrailBlazers game, hunted bears, etc.)?

Sammie was amazing with kids (who wore his jersey all over town) and I also think he helped many people suffering from depression when he told his story to me, and to and to ESPN The Magazine.

If he sticks with the Bucs, he will be such a good ambassador for the team out in public I think the Tampa Bay front office people will be amazed.

To read more of Buker’s articles, visit The Oregonian.

3 Responses to “Beavers Beat Writer Paul Buker Talks To Joe”

  1. uh Says:

    good stuff Joe

  2. admin Says:


  3. JoeBucsSteveCampbell Says:

    Who knows? Maybe he can be our Marques Colston?