What does Deone Bucannon enjoy about tackling?
“I like being the one that hits instead of getting hit,” he explained after a winter workout in the WSU Strength and Conditioning Complex.
“I don’t want to be on the losing side.”
Rarely did that happen at Washington State.
Bucannon finished his career fourth in WSU history in tackles (384) including a Pac-12 Conference leading 114 tackles in 2013.
He earned numerous All-American honors: First-Team All-America honors by the Associated Press, Second-Team All-America accolades by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, All-America Third Team honors by CBS Sports, All-America First Team by Athlon Sports, and Honorable Mention All-America from Sports Illustrated.
And he was named the winner of the 2013 College Football Performance Awards Elite Defensive Back Trophy.
It’s these numbers and accolades that earned Bucannon an invitation to the NFL Combine in February at Indianapolis, Ind.
Where he continued to impress.
Bucannon ran a 4.49 second 40-yard dash, performed 19 reps at the bench press, and registered a 36.5 inch vertical jump and a 125 inch broad jump.
His broad jump ranked second among Combine participants at the safety position and his numbers in the 40-yard dash, bench press, and vertical jump were third.
“My goals are to be the best I can be, to go out there and show the scouts what my best effort is.” Bucannon explained. “Those were my goals, and I feel like I showed them who I am and the athlete I am.”
Those watching were paying attention.
“Deone Bucannon is not below the radar,” analyst Charles Davis said on the NFL Network. “I think he is a guy who can do it all at the safety position.”
“He’s got size, and he’s got four years of high-quality production,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said on NFL.com. “I like him in the box, but he has the range to play on the back end.”
Mayock had Bucannon consistently listed in his top five rankings at the safety position and 43rd in his top 100 prospects heading into May's NFL Draft.
Bucannon exceeded Mayock's projections. He was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round, the 27th overall selection.
As he begins a new chapter of his football career at Arizona, Bucannon is quick to say the opportunity to play in the NFL would not be possible without his experience at WSU.
And the scholarship he received.
“If it wasn’t for WSU I wouldn’t be at the point where I am today,” he said. “I’m so happy and thankful that I decided to go to this great school.
“It’s really hard to explain how much it means to me,” Bucannon said about his scholarship. “It’s a true honor and I appreciate all the things people have done to provide me with the scholarship. Without it, I wouldn’t be at the place I am now. It has definitely made a huge impact on my life.”
And whatever the future holds for Bucannon, he knows one thing remains constant.
He is a Cougar for life.
“WSU and the people here taught me how to overcome adversity, stay within yourself and to remember who you’re playing for,” he said. “No matter what, the people here and around you have your back.
“It’s a family environment. It’s a brotherhood. That’s what WSU instilled in me. No matter how far you go, no matter where you’re at, no matter how many years down the line, these are your brothers. This will always be your family. It’s a bond that you have with each other. It’s unexplainable.”