The Buccaneers’ Big Name Underdog

June 18th, 2017

O.J. Howard (left) has an old friend with him in Tampa.

Blake Sims is a long way from riding high as an exalted king of Alabama football, and from throwing and sharing with America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Those 124 balls for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns Amari Cooper caught for then-high-flying Alabama in 2014? Sims was the quarterback slinging him the rock.

Who holds the single-season passing yardage record at Alabama? It’s Sims (3,487 in 2014).

Now, Sims is quietly scratching and clawing at the bottom of the Bucs’ 90-man offseason roster — as a running back.

At 5-11, 210 pounds, Sims was once simultaneously a reserve running back and quarterback at Alabama who seized a shot to compete for the starting QB gig and never looked back when he won the 2014 job.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player go through any more than what Blake went through for four years as a player and never once did he ever not do what he needed to do to help the team,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban told “He played on the scout team so many times when we played against a zone-read quarterback when he was the backup quarterback. Never complained about it. And I’ve never seen a guy work so hard from last spring when he had an opportunity to be the quarterback, through the summer and to work in fall camp and get the confidence of his players and execute well and learn to take what the defense gives.

“As a coach, you love to see guys who’ve gone through what he’s gone through , work so hard, always persevere, and then have success. And this is phenomenal success that he’s had this season, but it’s a credit to his character and his work ethic.”

But the cruel NFL torpedoed Sims dream of being an professional quarterback. He was undrafted and bolted to Canada to keep QB hope alive. It was back to the U.S. — as a running back — and he landed on Atlanta’s practice squad for a two-week, September stretch after he also had an August tryout with the Bucs.

The Atlanta experience opened Sims’ eyes to the demands of becoming an NFL running back. The Bucs called for another tryout in December, and Sims was signed.

Joe had a significant chat with Sims during minicamp. What a laid back and focused dude.

But he does still get the itch to sling the rock and command the huddle.

“Oh, yeah. Sometimes I be trying to take the ball from our running backs coach and throw to the running backs as they’re running routes in drills,” Sims said. “I’ll be messing with Jameis some about throwing and stuff, just talking to him letting him now how much I miss it sometimes. But everybody has their own course, and I’m just enjoying mine right now.”

Of course, Sims said he knows Jameis, as the two forged a relationship at the Combine and have stayed in touch periodically.

So can Sims run the football for the Bucs? Nobody knows. But he certainly was successful on the move for the Crimson Tide.

Sims says his goal is to grind his way to earn preseason carriers. “That’s the stage.”

Enjoy the recent Sims video below out of a Tennessee TV station. He’s an easy guy to root for. | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

9 Responses to “The Buccaneers’ Big Name Underdog”

  1. macabee Says:

    Long shot for Blake to make it, but if he does, then the halfback pass is added to the playbook. This could be Sims to OJ all over again! lol.

  2. Lamarcus Says:

    In college I thot he had a real shot a qb. Like in a thicker version of Wilson. But rb seems like a long shot

  3. Leighroy Says:

    This is a guy I hope to hear more about in Hard Knocks

  4. dooshlarue Says:

    I be wishing him the best.
    Sounds like he got a quality education at Alabama.

  5. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Happy Fathers Joe, and all the poppas out there doing they’re best to see about they kids.

  6. Owlykat Says:

    He was really good running the ball at Bama from the QB position, so I hope he shows well in preseason as a RB for us and gets put on our practice squad and available if Rogers goes down again. He also would be valuable playing a running QB to prepare our defense to beat the Panthers. If he makes our team he would make a valuable wildcat QB and also would be great for trick plays, and since we don’t carry a third QB he could be valuable if our backup QB is hurt.

  7. Fred E. Bucs Says:

    How unusual this is. QB to RB for the NFL at least. It would definitely add a wrinkle to the Bucs O, but I definitely agree this is a longshot. Maybe some reps in camp and preseason to see how he does, and maybe he’s a jackpot. But doubt it.

  8. James Walker Says:

    A RB that can throw is a dangerous thing. If he can play special teams he might have a chance.

  9. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I can see it, especially for wc situations, but it is a real longshot. We’ve got so many options at RB this year.

    Practice squad may be more likely.