What Drives Bucs 1st-Round Pick Tristan Wirfs

Diandra Loux

Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Tristan Wirfs grew up in a tight-knit community in Mount Vernon, Iowa. 

Tristan was a well-rounded kid. He credited growing up in a small town as to why he was able to play so many different sports. Wirfs was a multi-sport athlete in high school who competed as a baseball player, discus thrower, and an Iowa state-champion wrestler. In high school, he once threw the discus so far in track and field practice that it cleared a tall fence and landed in the middle of an occupied tennis court. 

Tristan’s mom, Sarah, was there for all of it, and they always had a close bond growing up. As a single mom of two, Sarah did the best she could to be present for Tristan and his sister, Kaylia. She let her kids know early on that they would have everything they needed, but probably not everything they wanted.

For the first five years of Tristan’s life, they lived in a trailer park right outside of town. Tristan’s mom began working for Target at the age of 16 and has been with the company for 28 years. This made it possible for her to support her family while raising two kids as a single mom. Oftentimes, Sarah had to close the store during the week which made it difficult for her to be there for some of their after-school activities. She was eventually promoted to a Team Lead which provided her the flexibility to be there for Tristan’s sporting events. 

At the 2020 scouting combine, Wirfs told reporters, “I’d see her on the phone with her sister and she’d be crying about stuff — bills, the new baseball bat, the glove and cleats she’d have to buy me. As I got older, I figured it out. It motivated me. I was going to do my best in every sport to make it worth it. That’s definitely been a big part of the motivation for me because I love her more than she knows and getting to hopefully pay that back to her someday would mean a lot.” 

Wirfs became the first true freshman to start at Right Tackle under Coach Kirk Ferentz. He was named second-team All-American by The Associated Press and the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten Conference in December 2019. He said coach Ferentz always told him to keep working hard and to never lose that mindset, so that is exactly what he has always done.

His Combine performance was one for the books. His 4.85 40-yard dash was the fastest of any offensive lineman in the 2020 class and a reminder of his undeniable athleticism. Before the 2020 draft kicked off, Wirfs stole the show by rolling out the red carpet for his mom Sarah outside their Iowa home. He greeted her at the end with flowers and a huge hug. Due to COVID-19, the players and their families were not able to attend the draft in person, which means their big trip to Vegas went a little bit different than originally planned. 

Going back to the promise he made to his mom years ago, Tristan said the red carpet moment was really special for him. “We were trying to give her a night kind of like Las Vegas. Obviously, it's not near as fancy and we're not dressed up, but we just rolled the red carpet out on our front lawn. Still, I was trying to make it special for her." 

Tristan made his mom proud in more ways than one that day when he was selected as the 13 player in the NFL Draft. Wirfs said Coach Arians called and told him, “We just traded with San Francisco. You're going to be a Buccaneer.” That night was a culmination of all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears for Tristan and his family. 

Everything finally came together along with a big wave of emotions. Tristan says playing at Iowa helped him become familiar with running a Pro-Style Offense. He feels this will help him transition into playing in the NFL. He’s also no stranger to playing at Raymond James Stadium. He competed in the 2019 Outback Bowl against Mississippi State. "Playing at Raymond James, it's a pretty awesome stadium. I love the ship they've got in the North endzone. I loved that game. I remember I was so hyped up about it. It was incredible." 

The Bucs have had a stellar offseason. Tristan is ready to take his talents back to Raymond James. 

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.