For Redskins Rookie, Slogan Is Hoya Sacks
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Alex Buzbee gets the questions often enough.
He went where? Georgetown?
That's a pretty small football program, isn't it?
But those questions don't bother Buzbee. He might be from a program that plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA), but a week and a half into his first NFL training camp with the Washington Redskins, he has proved to be a quick study. And if he can continue to extend his learning curve, Buzbee could become the first Hoya to play professional football since 1956.
It's no secret that making the transition from college football to the NFL can be hard enough, what with the increased speed and size of players, but Buzbee was accustomed to playing against Colgate and Fordham of the Patriot League -- far from the typical stomping grounds of most professional prospects.
And that difference in skill level made Buzbee's first few days opposite the Redskins' mountainous offensive linemen, such as Jon Jansen and Calvin Armstrong, that much more of a learning experience for the 21-year-old defensive end.
"The first two or three practices he was just trying to get his chinstrap back on right because he was getting slapped around pretty good," said Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense.
But what matters, Williams said, is: "How are you going to respond when all of a sudden things aren't going the way you want them to go? Are you going to give in to it or fight back? And to his credit, he fought. He has gotten steadily better."
Whether Buzbee, who is competing primarily with fellow rookies Justin Hickman and Chris Wilson, earns a spot on the Redskins' practice squad or finds a larger opportunity on the regular roster remains to be seen, but what he has done thus far is no small feat.
The last Georgetown alumnus to reach the professional football level was James "Big Jim" Ricca, who signed with the Redskins as a free agent in 1951.
Ricca, who died in February at the age of 79, spent four of his six NFL seasons with the Redskins, and, like Buzbee, was a defensive lineman. But unlike his historical counterpart who was dubbed "mammoth" for his era -- Ricca was 6 feet 4, 270 pounds -- Buzbee is considered undersize at 6-3, 265.
"I'm going against some big guys, so I really just have to try and out-technique them," Buzbee said. "You can't change how big you are at this point. I think they do like my quickness off the edge and if I can keep getting some good pressure off the edge, make the quarterback scramble around, I'll create something to open the eyes of the coaches."