New York, NY (UHND.com) — Four years ago, while Maurice Stovall was deciding where he would go to coach at the same time one of his favorites was looking for a new head coach. Notre Dame had just fired Bob Davie and then saw George O’Leary resign a week into the job and rumors all over the internet said Jon Gruden would be the next head coach. Gruden however would stay with the Bucs and Stovall would commit to new Notre Dame head coach Ty Willingham.
Four years later, Stovall will get the opportunity to be coach by Gruden after being selected in the third round at pick #90 as the 9th wide receiver selected in this year’s draft.
Stovall, projected by many as a second round pick fell all the way down to the 90th pick after teams like Philadelphia and New England, both of whom showed interest, passed on Notre Dame product.
New England, got the receiver they were looking for when Florida receiver Chad Jackson fell to the second round after being projected as a first rounder by most mock drafts.
Philadelphia meanwhile traded up in the third round to presumably draft a receiver after addressing their needs along the offensive and defensive lines with Broderick Bunkley and Winston Justice. Instead, the Eagles drafted the Division I-AA sack leader. Thanks Andy, the Birds don’t need a receiver with Todd Pinkston healthy again… sigh.
Anyway, Stovall lands in Tampa where he will be coached by another offensive mastermind in Gruden. Tampa’s quarterback situation isn’t exactly great with youngster Chris Simms trying to establish himself as a legit starter, but he should see some real playing time at receiver this year for the Bucs.
Tampa currently has Michael Clayton and Joey Galloway as their top two receivers so its doubtful Stovall will come in and start, but he could be the third receiver pretty easily. Stovall also played well on special teams at times in his Notre Dame career and could be on the punt coverage team for Tampa next season.
Still, it’s a bit surprising that Stovall fell to where he did in the draft after his impressive senior season and pretty good showing at the combine. Unlike a lot of receivers, Stovall isn’t a threat as a return man which hurt his value with teams looking for help at receiver and in the return game.
As a pure receiver however, it’s hard to argue that Stovall is not easily one of the top five wideouts in this year’s draft. Stovall learned to play physical in 2005 under Weis and became a downright excellent blocking wide receiver at times.
Tampa got an excellent value with Stovall who got some high praise from Michael Irvin for being physically capable of releasing from jams at the line from day one. Stovall has all the tools to become a dominant receiver. We started to see him work towards that in 2005. Tampa Bay fans will have the pleasure of seeing him continue to improve over the next several years.