NFL Draft: Stovall excited to play in Tampa under Jon Gruden
Bobby Griffin | Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Former Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall had a seemingly unconventional approach to Saturday’s NFL Draft.
While he watched players being called with his own name still remaining on the draft board, it would have been easy for Stovall to grow overly anxious.
But the receiver remained calm – simply enjoying the time he was spending with friends and family waiting for his moment. With endless speculation about where Stovall might land – and what team could use his services – the receiver avoided any preconceived notions.
“I knew that I would be drafted,” Stovall said. “I tried not to go in with too high expectations … because the draft is funny that way.”
His time finally came in the third round when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him with the 90th overall pick. He was the ninth receiver selected behind Ohio State’s Santonio Holmes, Florida’s Chad Jackson, Miami’s Sinorice Moss, Western Michigan’s Greg Jennings, Miami’s Devin Hester, Oklahoma’s Travis Wilson, Arizona State’s Derek Hagan and Wisconsin’s Brandon Williams.
Stovall also became the highest Notre Dame receiver chosen since Derrick Mayes was drafted in 1996 by Green Bay in the second round (56th overall). Mayes and Stovall share second place on Notre Dame’s single-season touchdown list (11).
“I’m feeling excited being drafted by Tampa Bay. … It’s the next step in my life,” Stovall said. “[Buccaneers] coach [Jon] Gruden called me – might have been while they were on the clock – and he said, ‘Welcome to the family.'”
But Stovall was projected to go higher on many draft boards.
NFLDraftCountdown.com draft analyst Scott Wright said Stovall could go as high as the 15th pick in the second round to Philadelphia. ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Stovall as his fifth receiver overall behind Holmes, Jackson, Moss and Jennings.
Stovall said he would report to Tampa Bay Thursday to formally meet his new coaching staff. He has not spoken to Irish coach Charlie Weis about his new team, who Weis coached against during his tenure in the NFL.
Stovall joins an already accomplished group of receivers in Tampa Bay including Joey Galloway (83 catches, 1,287 yards, 10 touchdowns in 2005) and Michael Clayton (32 catches, 372 yards in 2005). Clayton is one season removed from a rookie year in which he had 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ike Hilliard and B.J. Johnson also return as Tampa Bay receivers.
“I’m anxious more so than nervous,” Stovall said. “I know they have a lot of veterans, and [they are an] experienced group.”
Stovall was a leading offensive threat for Notre Dame in 2005. The senior had 69 catches for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had over 100 yards receiving in five games and went over the 200-yard mark Oct. 22 against BYU (14 catches, 207 yards, four touchdowns).
He also set a Notre Dame bowl record for receiving yards when he had nine catches for 126 yards against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2.