Dan Buenning grew up in Green Bay and played college football for the University of Wisconsin. So he certainly would not have minded if the home-town Green Bay Packers would have selected him in this weekend’s NFL Draft.
On the contrary, Buenning is headed 1,400 miles south to Tampa, Fla., after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose him with the sixth pick of the fourth round, the 107th overall selection.
“I love it,” Buenning said in a conference call Sunday afternoon. “Can’t pick a better climate.”
Interestingly, Buenning played the final game of his college career in Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers, on Jan. 1, in the Badgers’ Outback Bowl loss to Georgia.
That game marked Buenning’s 48th career start and 36th consecutive start over the course of the last three seasons, a streak that he hopes to continue with Tampa Bay.
“I want to compete for the starting job,” Buenning said. “Just win the job and if I don’t then I [can] be the top backup that goes in when somebody gets hurt.”
Buenning said he did not know which guard spot he would be competing for with the Buccaneers but that head coach Jon Gruden had told him a spot was open.
“He said that they need some help on the [offensive] line and he was really looking forward to having me down there and getting some work in and competing for this job,” Buenning said.
The Buccaneers currently have three guards on their roster: Matt Stinchcomb, Jeb Terry and Sean Mahan.
Buenning was thrilled for the opportunity to play for Gruden, whose intense style he equated with the coaching staff at Wisconsin, where he learned under the tutelage of Badger offensive line coach Jim Hueber.
“Coach-wise [the Buccaneers] are great,” Buenning said. “They’ve been all the way to the top (winning the Super Bowl in 2003) and hopefully they can get back there again.”
Buenning spent the weekend at his parents’ home in Green Bay. Having expected to hear his name called in the second or third round, disappointment set in when the first day of the draft ended and he was still on the board.
“It was hard,” Buenning said. “I obviously wanted to go in the first day but I had a lot of support here from my family and friends and stuff like that so it made it a lot easier to get through it.”
Shortly after the draft’s second day began at 10 a.m. Sunday, however, Buenning’s wait was over.
“[Falling further was] always in the back of my mind, but the thing was I knew I was going to go somewhere and once it got past yesterday I knew it was going to happen,” he said. “I didn’t know when and I just kind of let it go from there.”