Hutcherson signs with Tampa Bay

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Former Huntingdon Mustang and South Carolina Gamecock Sadarius Hutcherson’s dream of being drafted by one of the 32 teams in the NFL draft didn’t come true last week as seven passed and 259 names were called. Hutcherson, however, can still fulfill the dream of playing in the NFL as the World Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Hutcherson to an undrafted free agent contract.

It might be déjà vu for Hutcherson, who was not heavily recruited out of high school. But South Carolina and the Gamecocks took a chance, and through hard work Hutcherson became a starter his last three seasons and improved enough to be considered for the NFL draft.

The same opportunity exists for Hutcherson as he will join the Buccaneers for the start of training camp on July 21. NFL teams traditionally carry eight offensive lineman, and the Buccaneers have one lineman with 11 year’s of experience and two with seven years in the league. The Buccaneers could decide to go younger if they like what they see in Hutcherson. Also, Hutcherson has shown in college his ability to play more than one position on the offensive line, improving his chances of making the team.

Free agent contracts vary until the player makes a roster. Normally NFL teams will pay around $950 a week until the complete roster is decided. If Hutcherson makes the Buccaneers roster, then he would sign a three-year contract that would begin at 610 K the first year, 780 K the second, and 895 K the third year of the contract.

There is also the possibility that Hutcherson will be placed on the practice squad and paid 6, 900 per week up to 100 K for the year. Teams carry up to 12 players on their practice squad for security regarding injuries or some other unknown reasons they need to replace a player on their 54-player roster. The Buccaneers only list a one-deep depth chart at offensive guard, the position Hutcherson played in college.

If Hutcherson continues the work ethic he exhibited in college and carries that mentality into the professional game, then the dream of playing in the NFL could become a reality. If Hutcherson impresses in training camp, even if the Buccaneers decide he doesn’t fit their needs, he could still land with another team that is looking for lineman.

It’s a long road for undrafted free agents in the NFL as many never make an NFL roster. But Hutcherson was once faced with the same challenge that he is faced with now, and through hard work, his dream of playing in the SEC came true. Hopefully, that same drive and determination will earn him a place and success at the professional level.

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