The last time the Buccaneers stripped off their jerseys in 2012 was in the visitors’ locker room at the Georgia Dome, after an encouraging 22-17 victory over the Falcons to cap the regular season. This Sunday, the Bucs’ colors could make one more appearance in the Falcons’ home, on the back of young athlete John Latimer.
Latimer will take part in the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick National Finals on Saturday in Atlanta, one day before the Falcons take on the Seahawks in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game. Latimer is one of four finalists in the Boys 8-9 age group, and he will be representing the Buccaneers this weekend. The winners from the 10 different gender/age groups will be recognized during a special on-field award presentation during the Atlanta-Seattle game, which kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Latimer has earned his trip to Atlanta by advancing through local, sectional and team championship competitions held across the country during the NFL’s regular season. The Orlando native had to be one of the top four scorers in his age group to advance to the finals, where he will compete with other rising gridiron stars from Albuquerque, Dallas and Birmingham. All participants in this weekend’s competition will be representing a specific NFL team.
PPK, as it is affectionately known, has been around more than 50 years (the first competition was held in 1961) and it is thus the NFL’s longest-running youth program. Plenty of current and former NFL players took part in the grassroots skills competition during their youth, including the Buccaneers’ own starting quarterback, Josh Freeman. Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Dan Marino are two other notable PPK alumni.
This marks the third time in the last four years that at least one PPK participant from the Buccaneers’ region has made it to the national finals. Last year, Valentina Estrada (12) of Tarpon Sprints and Madison Shelquist (15) of Tampa got a trip to Baltimore to try to win their respective age groups.
All participants and their guest are provided airfare, hotel and tickets to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game. NFL Punt, Pass and Kick is part of NFL Youth Football, which provides ways for children to play, watch and experience the game of football. For more information, visit www.NFLPPK.com. For other NFL PLAY 60 youth programs, visit www.NFLRUSH.com.