When Dan Vitale was drafted by Tampa, the first thought that came to everyone’s mind was The A-Train, but it wasn’t exactly for the number 40 he wore in college. Although Vitale is a far cry from being Mike Alstott, simply because there will never be another, his similar playing style could bring back that emotion the legendary Buc, brought year in and year out.
Vitale is a versatile back and while at Northwestern, he was donned with the title “Superback.” He played a hybrid combination of fullback and tightened but has the maneuverability and the speed to be a halfback. He is currently listed on the Buccaneers roster as a tight end, but the Buccaneers do not seem to have a fullback listed, this is a role Vitale can easily fill.
Vitale sees himself as being more of an H-back than a fullback, “I think an H-back is kind of what I’m looking at. I’m excited to contribute” Alstott also considered himself more of an H-back. Considering that Alstott is one of Vitale’s football heroes, there’s no wonder to why he modeled himself after the legend.
Mike Alstott wasted no time in meeting up with Dan Vitale and was more than impressed with Vitale’s attitude, work ethic, and how he saw a little bit of himself in the rookie. “What a great kid. He has a lot of similar traits to me when I was growing up, his work ethic and his passion. You can just tell in the first 10 minutes of talking to him what kind of guy he is, how blessed he feels to be here and what he’s going to do to make the team. He knows he needs to do everything he can on special teams, and he knows he needs to pick the brains of the veterans.”
Alstott, in true veteran fashion, shared wisdom with the rookie and passed along a few tips that will help the Vitale in achieving his goal. “You have to earn your way on special teams first, and at the same time learn your position and do whatever it takes: Early mornings, late nights and be on time. He understands all that already. He is very passionate, and if you have that, you’ve got half the battle won.”
Dan Vitale is excited to with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and we as fans cannot wait to see what the young man can contribute to the team. With most of us hopeful that he turns out to be a brutal runner like Alstott, his hands out of the backfield may be what will impress us the most. At 6 feet 2 inches and 235 lbs, his power and speed will go a long way for Tampa, and should bring an exciting added dimension to the Buccaneers offensive scheme.