Punter of the Week is a new weekly series here on UKPigskin where we will be giving you, the fans, the freedom to tell the world all about your love of football.
Whether it’s a particular franchise, player or just your general love for the NFL, if you’re passionate then we want you to get involved!
In the inaugural edition of ‘POTW’, Rob Hepworth, a 25-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan from Chesterfield, England, shares his story.
What NFL franchise do you support and why?
I support the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for several reasons. Before I really got into the National Football League I watched the National Championship game in college football as it was recommended by a colleague at work.
Florida State beat the Auburn Tigers in that game 34-31 and it was a quite remarkable spectacle so when I heard the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had took Florida State QB Jameis Winston first overall in the 2015 draft I decided to follow them and start taking both NFL and college football seriously.
At the time, the Bucs had quite an exciting roster especially with Winston being added and Mike Evans drafted the year before but as we all know, this excitement was not to live up to expectation and year after year of disappointment has been the main feeling. Until now…
Do you have a favourite player(s) within the NFL?
My favourite offensive player in the NFL is Tyreek Hill. I do not think there is anyone else out there with such explosive speed and play making abilities. You know with Mahomes at QB these two are going to be a huge threat to dominate the AFC like the Patriots did. In one game he reached a top speed of nearly 23mph and has 20 total touchdowns of 40 yards or more, which is just barbaric.
My favourite defensive player is Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts. When he was drafted in the second round no one predicted him to win the defensive rookie of the year title. His stats are crazy and you can tell he is a leader on that defence even at such a young stage. I think this line-backer from South Carolina State is in a for a Hall of Fame career.
What are your first memories of the NFL?
First memories of the NFL include Jameis throwing a pick 6 on his first ever play for the Bucs, not much changed over the next 5 years. And the first Superbowl I watched, Malcolm Butler, say no more.
Have you been able to form a relationship with other members of your fan-base through social media?
In terms of connecting with other fans of my team it is all mainly through social media groups, but a lot of my close friends follow NFL so I can relate and talk to them about everything going off in the NFL.
It also now helps that after the off season the Bucs have just had, I believe we are one of the most, if not the most talked about team.
What do you expect from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this coming season?
I would like to see the Bucs make the play offs this year, but I am slightly concerned because I believe the Saints will win our division and we do not have the easiest of schedules.
I fully expect us to finish with a winning record and with the extra play off spot that might be enough to sneak us in, but a deep play off run I struggle to see as much as I’d love us to win it all at Raymond James.
I think our offence has improved a lot over the off season and draft with Brady, Gronkowski etc and the additions of both Tristan Wirfs and Tyler Johnson is exciting.
Also, we have a young secondary who improved a lot over the last year and the best safety in the draft class in my opinion in Antoine Winfield Jr.
If you could add one player to your team, past or present, who would it be and why?
If I could add any player past/present to make this Bucs team genuine contenders would be to get Tyron Smith LT of Dallas Cowboys, in his prime of course although he did only allow 1 sack last year. I wish we would have gone after Trent Williams of the redskins because with Williams on the left and Wirfs on the right it would give Brady all the protection he needs. Donovan Smith is not the answer.