The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that they have signed inside linebacker Tyrone McKenzie to their practice squad. McKenzie played collegiately at the University of South Florida from 2007-2008. Before stops at Iowa State and Michigan State, the 6-foot-1, 248-pound McKenzie entered the league as a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2009. He tore the ACL in his right knee his rookie season on the final day of rookie camp and missed the year. He was released by the Patriots earlier this season before being placed on their practice squad after clearing waivers. McKenzie, 25 weighed all his options before asking for his official release to pursue other opportunities as the Patriots granted his wish and released him Saturday from their practice squad.
McKenzie in speaking with Ian Rapoport, of the Boston Herald earlier this year said “Scars are signs of a competitor.” McKenzie who has had fair share of hurdles to over come through out his college and young pro career hung around Foxboro and acted like a sponge, learning whatever he could, although not playing. He was in on all of the team meetings, and position specific meetings asking questions.
”I decided to stay up here. Me going away, I’m not going to learn anything,” he said. ”I could have took my playbook, and tried to learn as much as I can, but there’s no coach around for me to ask questions. The coaches are busy throughout the season. So every chance you have to grab them, when you’re in the linebacker meeting room, that’s your chance to ask a question real quick, and so it was best for me to stay up here.”
He could have wallowed in self-pity, but that’s not McKenzie. After the Patriots drafted him in April out of the University of South Florida, head coach Bill Belichick raved about him.
“Of all the players that I’ve talked to and we’ve interviewed this year and even through the years, Tyrone is one of the most impressive,” Belichick said. ”Maturity, intelligence, what he’s done with the opportunities he’s had or that he’s had to overcome, how he’s dealt with them, how he’s made the most of them; it hasn’t been easy. Yet he continues to excel, jump over hurdles and overcome obstacles that I think would have derailed a lot of other people and/or football players.”
Listening to McKenzie a short while ago, it’s easy to see why Belichick was so impressed.
”Things are gonna happen, injuries are gonna happen in your career,” said McKenzie, who’s added about 8 pounds of muscle to his frame, going from 240-248.”Like they say, ‘Scars are signs of a competitor.’ You just need to keep competing and get better each day.”
The Bucs pounced on the local product out of Riverveiw, Florida where he was rated among Florida’s top 50 prospects’ by the Tampa Tribune. Shortly after practice Bucs head coach Raheem Morris gave reporters a brief review of his newest addition to the roster telling Rick Brown of The Ledger.com“He’s really detailed. You can see he’s sharp. That’s a good sign. We’re excited to have him here. We liked him here a couple years ago. We were glad to be able to get him in the second wave of draft.”