News, Transactions and Rumors
With Thanksgiving over and the Christmas trees already sitting in the corner of the room, the time to get serious about Arena Football is right around the corner. Teams from Tampa to Texas and New England to Carolina are gearing up for what is going to be a VERY INTERESTING 2019 Season. No Matter what league you are talking about.
Cause Football is Football and that is what is important. Quality Football. The National Arena League, American Arena League, A-League Football, Arena Football League and several others all have the same GOAL. Putting Quality football teams together to give US the Fans something to CHEER ON!
After chatting with some coaches and team owners, the 2019 season is going to bring some hard hitting football to the hearts and minds of the fans. And look for some surprises this year.
It looks like the American Arena League will kick off with 6 teams this year. Cape Fear heroes, Carolina Havoc, Carolina Energy, Peach State Cats, High County Grizzlies, Jersey Flight and maybe the West Virginia Roughriders. We are waiting the announcement from the league.
This year will be different according to the League and some of the owners. Carolina Havoc owner Chris Duffy stated that he is taking a more hands on approach to the team and the league this year. Bringing Quality Football to Florence South Carolina is the number 1 goal of the Havoc, and they are already active in the community.
With powerhouse teams like the Havoc, Energy and maybe the Roughriders the AAL is ready to take the field and this year looks really bright.
Over in the National Arena League, this has been a really quiet week. The Columbus Lions, Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, Massachusetts Pirates, Jacksonville Sharks, Carolina Cobras and the Maine Mammoths are all waiting on the league to tell us about the Orlando Terminators and the other new team. No word on when that might be.. but we are all hoping for an early Christmas present from the NAL.
In OTHER news, the A-League is working on its season. With 4 teams playing the league is doing double header games, which not only cuts down on Costs, but it also helps build a fan base. No word on when the season will start, but the league looks for a February date.
Some big signings this week and we break them down as they come in…. We are working on getting things out sooner… so stand by for some more on that to come….
Who’s ready for an ALL ARENA POD CAST?
Here are the transactions——-
The Jacksonville Sharks announced the signing of Defensive Lineman Jonathan Taylor, Wide Receiver Durron Neal, OL D’Angelo McCray,
The Columbus Lions announced the signing of Defender Marte Sears
The Massachusetts Pirates announced the signing of Fullback Quayvon Hicks, DL Charles Walker, nose tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin, Devonn Brown,
The West Virginia Roughriders announced the signings of QB Jarrett Brown, defensive back Robert Sands , DB Ellis Lankster, DL Larry Ford
Prior to signing with the Sharks, Jonathan Taylor worked out with the Cleveland Browns. He attended Southeastern Louisiana University, where he made 34 tackles and two sacks during 11 games. Taylor is a native of Millen, GA and attended Jenkins County High School, where he was high school All-American and played in the 2012 Under Armour All-American Bowl Game.
Durron Neal (5’11,191) signed with the Jacksonville Sharks for his third season of arena football. Last season, Neal played in 14 games with the Columbus Lions, where he led the Lions in receiving yards (1085) and average yard per catch (13.7) and earned Second Team All-NAL honors. Neal also finished the season ranking second in catches (79) and touchdowns (25). In 2017, Neal began his arena football career with the Lions, playing in nine games. In those nine games, he had 37 receptions for 309 yards and seven touchdowns. Neal was an undrafted free agent entering the 2016 season when he signed with the Denver Broncos for training camp. Neal played for the Broncos the pre-season, recording three catches for 21 yards and one touchdown but was not with the team for the regular season.
Marte Sears (6’4, 215 – Faulkner University) enters the 2019 NAL season – his 3rd of arena football – once again ready to take the league by storm after his 2018 season ended before it even began with an unfortunate injury. However, you do not need to look much further back to see how dominant he can be. Sears was voted to the 2017 All-NAL team as a Jack Linebacker after finishing 5th in the NAL in interceptions in only 6 games played. Despite joining the Lions mid-season, Sears still finished second on the team in interceptions (4) and led the team in total tackles per game in 2017. Likewise, Sears was instrumental in the Lions postseason run all the way to the NAL championship game.
Quayvon Hicks played three years of college ball at the University of Georgia helping the Bulldogs to an overall record of 28-11 where he compiled 23 carries for 166 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He added 12 receptions for 132 yards. Hicks suffered an ACL injury before his final game and later was signed by the Tennessee Titans but was not able to pass the physical. In 2017 he continued his comeback signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
During his arena football career, D’Angelo McCray played for the Iowa Barnstormers (2017), where he earned Second-Team All-IFL honors. McCray played one season with the Green Bay Blizzard (2015), He spent two seasons with the Nebraska Danger (2013, 2014) where he played in back to back United Bowl championship games. Before his career in arena football, McCray was signed to the New York Giants roster as an undrafted free agent.
Charles Walker, 6’4”- 310 lbs. from New Orleans, Louisiana, had a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 but was waived when a knee injury slowed his progress. Walker appeared in 24 games in three seasons at Oklahoma where he had 53 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six and a half sacks and one forced fumble. In 2015 he was a second team All-Big 12 Conference selection.
After redshirting in 2015, Lampkin played in five games with the Sooners in 2016. Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championship as the 6’4,” 340 lb. defender had five tackles, two for a loss and two quarterback hurries. The Sooners went on to defeat Auburn 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl and finished with an 11-2 record.
As a redshirt sophomore, Du’Vonta Lampkin played in 12 of Oklahoma’s 14 games in 2017 recording 23 tackles, five tackles for loss and one sack. The Sooners claimed the Big 12 championship and were the second seed in the college football playoff. Their season ended with an overtime loss in the Rose Bowl to Georgia. At season’s end Lampkin declared himself eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Devonn Brown, The Massachusetts Pirates leading receiver and All-National Arena League First Team offensive performer has re-signed with the team for the 2019 season. Brown led the Pirates with 24 touchdown receptions and was tops in the NAL averaging 19 yards per catch. Brown can’t wait to be back in Worcester.
Jarrett Brown, a former starting quarterback for the WVU Mountaineers in 2009, spent the first couple years of his college career as a Mountaineer under the then Heisman candidate quarterback and WVU legend Pat White, before White graduated in 2008. Brown in his senior season, and just his first full season at the helm of the Mountaineers, would go on to lead his team to the 2010 Gator Bowl against the Florida State Seminoles. After graduating from WVU, Jarrett would continue onto the NFL, spending some time with teams such as the San Francisco 49’ers, Cleveland Browns, and the Indianapolis Colts. After his time in the NFL, Jarrett Brown was brought on by the CFL’s (Canadian Football League) BC Lions as their backup quarterback for the entirety of their 2013 season. Brown most recently though, before signing wth the West Virginia Roughriders, played arena football with the Spokane Shock in the AFL (Arena Football League).
Robert Sands, a former 3 year starting defensive back at the University of West Virginia (2008-2010), was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 5th Round of the 2011 NFL Draft after deciding to forgo his senior season at WVU. Shortly after his time with Cincinnati, Sands would find playing time in the CFL (Canadian Football League) with the Edmonton Eskimos (2014-2015) as well as with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2016). Following his time in the CFL, Sands signed with the LA Kiss of the Arena Football League in 2016 and most recently in 2017 with the team he most recently has played for, the National Arena League’s (NAL) Columbus lions.
Ellis Lankster, a former starting defensive back for the West Virginia Mountaineers (2008-2009) and participant in the 2009 Senior Bowl, would go on to be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Experiencing various stints of heavy playing time in Buffalo, Lankster would get picked up by Rex Ryan’s New York Jets, where Ellis would match up with other Jets’ defensive backs like Isaiah Trufant to become one of the staples in the Jets defense for the next 4 years. Following his time with the Jets, Lankster would return back to Buffalo, the team that originally signed him to play once again for head coach and Bills signal caller Rex Ryan.
Larry Ford, a former defensive lineman at West Virginia University (2008-2010), quickly became an arena all-star shortly after his football days at WVU. Soon after graduating, Ford would go onto get recruited and play for teams such as the PIFL’s Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, The AFL’s Orlando Predators and Cleveland Gladiators, and the NAL’s High Country Grizzlies. Most recently, Ford played for the Atlanta Havoc of the American Arena League (AAL) in which he was granted Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors and awarded Defensive MVP in the 2018 AAL Championship game.
*News from League Websites and Media Releases were used in this article