NAL Assistant Coach of the Year takes the helm for Sharks in 2020
Following a dominant 15-1 NAL Championship season in 2019, Jacksonville Sharks Defensive Coordinator James Fuller has been promoted to Head Coach. In his first season with the Sharks Coach Fuller helped build one of the best defenses in the NAL. Boasting the most interceptions, sacks, fumble recoveries, interceptions for touchdowns, and largest turnover margin during the 2019 season. The Sharks also finished second in points allowed and held the 2018 NAL Champions to only 48 points in 2019 championship game. Fuller was named the 2019 NAL Assistant Coach of the Year. He led a defense that had two 2nd Team NAL players, four 1st Team NAL Players, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year, and Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In 2018, Fuller was the head coach for the 7-8 Maine Mammoths. They had a 1-7 start, but were arguably the most dangerous team after their 6-1 finish to the season, ending one game shy of a playoff berth on a five-game win streak. Fuller and the Mammoths defeated the Sharks, Cobras, Pirates, and Lions, who all made it to the playoffs. Following Maine’s 2018 inaugural season the team suspended operations and Fuller accepted the defensive coordinator position with Jacksonville bringing Mammoth impact players like first-team All-NAL receiver Devin Wilson and quarterback Jonathan Bane with him.
Prior to the Maine Mammoths, Fuller has had a long career in coaching arena football serving as the head coach of the Richmond Raiders 2011-2015 where he was 37-24, making three PIFL Cup appearances and earning PIFL Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2015. He also served as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Vigilantes of the AFL in 2010, finishing the season as the interim head coach. Fuller served as the wide receiver and defensive backs coach of the Dallas Desperados from 2006-2008 and was the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Soul in 2004-2005 during the 2005 season he was named interim head coach after the fifth game. Fuller was the head coach of the AF2 Bakersfield Biltz from 2002-2003 winning the Western Conference Championship in 2002. Fuller began his coaching career as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator of the Portland Forest Dragons in 1999 and moved with the team to Oklahoma City where they became the Oklahoma City Wranglers 2000.
As a player, Fuller was a defensive back and wide receiver who spent his college career at Portland State. During his NFL career, he played defensive back for the San Diego Chargers from 1992-1994 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996-1997. In arena football, he played for the Portland Forest Dragons in 1998 before becoming their associate head coach.
Jacksonville’s 2019’s NAL Coach of the Year Siaha Burley was unable to come to terms for a contract extension, and with the free-agent signing period beginning, the Sharks organization chose to move on. Sharks Chairman Kevin Wezniak stated “Coach Burley’s success here in Jacksonville is a great indication of his talents. He built a great roster this year, chose an outstanding coaching staff, and will be a winner anywhere he goes.” Team President Steve Curran added “Siaha came to Jacksonville and did more than we asked him to do. He provided an excellent example of leadership. We wish him all the best in the future.”