The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that they signed college free agent DT Eric LeGrand. Eric will be available to media through a conference call at 10 a.m. ET. The call-in number is: 866-675-1565. Participants will then need to enter the following code when prompted: 9534214961.
LeGrand joins the Buccaneers from Rutgers University, where he played in 31 games. During his time with the Scarlet Knights, he recorded 60 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries, before his playing career ended prematurely.
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 made his first return to the football field on October 29, 2011, one year after his injury, leading his team and Head Coach Greg Schiano out onto the field at Rutgers’ stadium. LeGrand also joined his fellow seniors on the field for Senior Day festivities prior to kickoff of a win over Cincinnati on November 19.
“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. His return to the football field donned the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2011 year-end issue, as it was voted the magazine’s Moment of the Year. 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. You can follow Eric’s remarkable recovery through his Twitter feed, @EricLeGrand52. For more information on LeGrand, visit www.scarletknights.com/Believe/.