Lions defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs talks about his unlikely path to the NFL

It was a different path to the NFL for Isaiah Buggs, but he has found a home with the Detroit Lions.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions signed defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs just before 2022 training camp started. It was a flier to a large degree, but it worked out.

Buggs wound up playing all 17 games for the Lions last season, starting 13 and playing a healthy 755 snaps (a 67 percent snap share) as a key piece of the defensive line and a key cog in how the run defense improved down the stretch. Which isn't to discount his contribution as a pass rusher, with 10 quarterback hits.

The Lions brought Buggs back on a two-year deal this offseason. That's a level of stability he hasn't had in his career, starting when he was a sixth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. But found a home in Detroit, and wanted to return.

With the players having a day off from training camp on Tuesday, Buggs was on the "Stoney and Jansen Show" on 97.1 The Ticket. He talked about the appeal of coming back to the Lions.

"It’s just a great place to be, man, surrounded by great players and coaches and everyone in this wonderful building," "It’s a place where I can call home. It’s a family here. Everyone’s just buying in and we’re going to have something special this year. I’m excited to be a part of it.""

Isaiah Buggs talks about unlikely launch to his path to the NFL

Buggs finished his college career at Alabama under Nick Saban. Before that, two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College had him doubting if he had any future in football. He had entertained basketball offers from LSU and Northwestern, but he went a different route and with a different sport.

"When I was a senior in high school, man, I didn’t envision this, I didn’t think this was going happen for me," Buggs said. "I went to junior college and I was like, man, don’t nobody come and get guys from junior college, man. And we played on Thursdays. Nobody’s watching us, no TV's, no cameras, so I was like, man, what am I doing this for?""

Isaiah Buggs, via 97.1 The Ticket

Buggs committed himself to where he was, for the love of the game. And as he said on Tuesday, "next thing you know I had every offer from every school in the country."

Buggs led the Crimson Tide in sacks in his last season there. But opportunity never really came over three seasons with the Steelers. He played almost twice as many snaps for the Lions last season as he did over his whole time in Pittsburgh.

Buggs may have again been questioning his football future before the Lions signed him last year. But he found a home, and something special he wants to stay a part of as long as he can.

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