TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened training camp over the weekend and joining the reigning Super Bowl champions on the field is Cameron Kinley.
He is in pursuit of a spot on the Buccaneers roster. The former Navy defensive back has already proven his ability to overcome adversity.
“It was tough, I’m not going to lie,” Kinley said. “I had the help with some of my teammates at Navy, then being home working out at my high school and with my dad keeping things going. Just staying hopeful.”
Hopeful for this opportunity. Kinley signed as an undrafted free agent in May and attended Bucs rookie minicamp believing he would be allowed to attend training camp. But the Department of Defense initially denied a request to have his mandatory four-year military commission delayed to pursue a career in the NFL.
“It was definitely crazy,” Kinley said. “I am appreciative of all the support that people put in to make this happen.”
His story received national attention. Then, earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin granted his request.
“It was a good feeling,” he said. “I felt like a little kid strapping the pads on for the first time.”
“He came back in great shape,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. “He was studying just in case. He is ready to roll.”
Kinley wants to make sure that the next athlete attending a military academy will have an easier decision to make.
“I hope we have some consistency moving forward so that everybody gets a chance to live out both of their dreams,” Kinley said.
The Bucs have a deep position group at defensive back. Kinley’s best bet to make the roster will be on special teams.
“This is what you ask for, this is what you dream for,” Kinley said of the competition. “If you’re in the NFL you know you can’t run from the competition. It just makes you a better player.”