Eric LeGrand Signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

May 2, 2012

In a classy move, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today signed college free agent defensive tackle Eric LeGrand from Rutgers University.

During his 31 NCAA games with the Scarlet Knights, LeGrand recorded 60 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and three fumble recoveries, before his playing career ended prematurely due to injury.

On October 16, 2010, in a game against Army during his junior season, LeGrand suffered fractures of two vertebrae and a serious spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.

Despite being told that he would be a quadriplegic and resigned to a ventilator, LeGrand persevered and a mere five weeks after the injury, resumed breathing on his own. Later, he even became able to stand upright with the help of a metal frame.

LeGrand resumed his studies via video conference during the spring 2011 semester and continued to be an impactful member of the Rutgers football team during his senior year.

He returned to the field one year after his injury, leading his team and Head Coach Greg Schiano out onto the field at Rutgers' stadium. His return donned the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2011 year-end issue, as it was voted the magazine's Moment of the Year.

"Leading up to the draft, I couldn't help but think that this should've been Eric's draft class," said Coach Schiano. "This small gesture is the least we could do to recognize his character, spirit, and perseverance. The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what we are looking for in Buccaneer Men."

With the courage and determination shown throughout his rehabilitation, LeGrand's inspirational story has garnered national attention.

LeGrand received the Most Courageous Athlete Award from the New Jersey Sports Writers Association in January and will also receive the Unsung Hero Award at the New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 9 for his representation of courage, strength and character.

LeGrand is planning to graduate next fall with a degree in labor studies and most recently partnered with IMG to help in continuing his broadcasting career.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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