The Triangle Torch of the AAL have signed former Baylor and CFL offensive lineman/tight end, LaQuan McGowan.
McGowan, at 6'8 and 410lbs, played college football at the University of Baylor. In 2013, he played in all 13 games on special teams and as a reserve lineman, where he recorded a 22 knockdowns in eight games and played from scrimmage, and he was named to the 2014 Big 12 Commissioners role.
In 2014, he played in all 13 games again, playing as a reserve lineman, special teamer, and goal line tight end. He made one reception for an 18 yard touchdown and totaled five knockdowns as a reserve lineman in five games, and he was Selected Tight End on Sports Illustrated's 2014-2015 All-Bowl Team.
In 2015, he played in all 13 games and made one start as a tight end, earned All-Big 12 honorable mention from coaches, had two receptions on the season, both for touchdowns (23 total yards), and one rush for two yards. He finished his college campaign with three receptions for 41 yards and three touchdowns, along with one rush for two yards.
McGowan went undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, and did not sign with any team. He was signed by the Montreal Alouettes to play right tackle and fullback, but was later released. McGowan said he was, may still be, interested in a WWE career.
The signing of McGowan is a huge signing. They've been making some extensive moves transactions recently, with the signing of Shawn Oakman. McGowan will be used as mostly a lineman, but don't be surprised to see him a tight end, fullback, or even a place kicker. He did all three back in high school.
The Triangle Torch's season is really shaping up to be huge and monstrous.
Is Shawn Oakman the unanimous Defensive Player of the Year? Leaning completely towards him is not crazy. If you're a college football fan, then you know why. Unless another defensive standout shows up in 2018, like the Cape Fear Heroes linebacker Ralph Scott, sticking to Oakman may be the only option.
Oakman was absolutely eye opening in his college stint. He played in 36 games at Baylor, compiling 128 tackles, 46.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries and eight forced fumbles. It's hard to miss the guy too, having a terrifying frame of 6'8, 287 pounds with 35 3/4" inch arm length and 10 5/8" inch hands.
He runs a 4.9 40 yard dash and has a 32 inch vertical jump. That's just a little bit on the former monster of Baylor. Oakman has had his fair share of trouble. He was dismissed from Penn State for stealing a sandwich, but that is nothing to worry about.
He was arrested for sexual assault charges but fans shouldn't have to worry about that. Oakman returning to football means he's maturing, and that's something for Torch fans to look forward too.
What are reasonable expectations for Oakman in 2018? The Triangle Torch have other talents on defense, none as good as Oakman, but other above average talent. They have defensive end/linebacker Michael Smith who played in the NFL, Tyson Fernandez from Appalachian State, and arena veteran Akeem Ward. That'll provide Oakman the opportunity to get back there and make some sacks.
I would expect, and I'm being very realistic, 19 sacks, 44 solo tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 11 pass deflections, five forced fumbles, one interception, and three blocked kicks. Oakman is so far the preseason front runner to be the Defensive Player of the Year.
The Richmond Roughriders of the AAL have signed former Marshall University standout and Montreal Alouettes quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Cato was the starting quarterback for the Marshall Thundering Herd from 2011 to 2014. At Marshall, Cato completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 14,079 yards, 131 touchdowns, 44 interceptions, and an average of 265.6 passing yards per game.
He also scrambled for 839 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2012, he won the Conference USA MVP. In 2013, he was in the running for the Sammy Baugh award, he was on the watchlist for the Maxwell Award and Manning Award, as well as being the MVP of the Military Bowl victory over Maryland.
In 2014, Cato threw a touchdown pass in his 39th consecutive game, breaking Russell Wilson's FBS record for most consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. He broke the school record with 14,079 yards passing and 131 passing touchdowns.
Cato went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, despite being ranked by some scouts and even Mel Kiper, Jr. as the eighth best quarterback in the draft. He was invited to the Cleveland Browns camp as a tryout but was not signed.
He was signed by the Montreal Alouettes to a two-year deal on May 16, 2015. After playing in 22 games overall, he was later released on Feb 6, 2017. Cato completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 3,570 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 334 rushing yards and one touchdown.
What are some expectations to have for Cato? He will play behind a good offensive line that includes D'Angleo McCray who was a 2017 Second Team All-IFL lineman and Mitchell Bell who is a former Oakland Raider. Cato will also throw to veteran stud wide receiver Damond Powell, who was First Team All-IFL in 2017 and led the IFL in touchdowns (22), and yards per catch. Cato should finish with 1,500 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns.
The Massachusetts Pirates of the NAL have had a busy day. They have added a bunch of talent to the roster, including Thomas Claiborne, Nick Haag, Shawn Loiseau, Ja-Mes Logan, John Hardy Tuliau, and Troy Sanders.
Claiborne is a former Boston College Eagle and Tampa Bay Buccaneer. He's also an AFL veteran. The 6'3, 230lb offensive lineman will be a huge addition to the Pirates offense.
Haag, a linebacker, played for the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants. He's also an IFL vet, spending time with the Spokane Empire and Cedar Rapids Titans. He finished 2017 with 75 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one blocked kick.
Loiseau, another linebacker, has plenty experience under his belt as he's played for the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles KISS, Hudson Valley Fort, Sioux Falls Storm, and Nebraska Danger.
Logan, a receiver, has played for the New England Patriots and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He's a Top-10 receiver in Ole Miss history. In college, he had 134 receptions for 1,734 yards and six touchdowns.
Tuliau is a defensive back from Hawaii. He is a former All-Conference Mountain West athlete. He also played for the the B.C. Lions of the CFL and was most recently a 2017 All-IFL defensive back with the Spokane Empire. At Hawaii, he put up 239 total tackles, 16.5 for loss, four sacks, six interceptions, one defensive touchdown, three fumble recoveries, and six forced fumbles. Most recently in the IFL, he had 83 total tackles, six for loss, six interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Sanders is a defensive back who most recently played for the the Atalanta Falcons and High County Grizzlies. He's a former Appalachian State standout, where he has 79 tackles and two interceptions.
With moves like these, it's clear the Pirates are not playing around this season. They signed veterans and talents, the keys to success.
After the tryouts held by the Upstate Dragons of the American Arena League, the team has signed quarterback Lorenz Eric Laray Stefan. Stefan played college football at Scottsdale College, where he played cornerback from 2009-2011. He was a JUCO All-American corner in 2011
After his college stint, he went on to pursue the quarterback position. Stefan played in the California Football League for the Southwest Ducks in 2015, the South Valley Storm in 2016, and the Steel Menace of the AIF in 2016. Stefan then went on to be the starting quarterback for Team America in 2017. And most recently, he played for the Arizona Spartans in the Arizona Gridiron Football League. With the Arizona Spartans, he was the Offensive Player of the Year in 2017, 1st Team All-League quarterback, and the passing leader with 3,147 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and an eye popping 14 2-point conversions.
Stefan has the unique skill set to be a successful arena football quarterback. He can evade the pass rush very nicely. He's shown this numerous times in games and flag football. Stefan's release is also one of the quickest I've seen. He gets the ball to the receiver quickly, extending plays, fixing broken ones, and and making big ones.
He reads the field the field very nicely, and playing in a flag league made him much better at it and shows that in the film. He doesn't lock on to a receiver, and can keep him eyes down the field despite pressure. He has nice deep ball accuracy and connects nearly perfectly with his timing.
Stefan shows good mechanics in the pocket, shuffling and such to keep himself good. He's also very athletic, and can strip attempted sacks and bust for significant gains with his speed. He has a strong arm, accurate on the run and in the pocket, great pocket awareness, natural born leader, and a champion mind set. He's very experienced.
The Triangle Torch of the American Arena League have signed former Baylor defensive end, Shawn Oakman.
Oakman, at 6'9, 287lbs played college football at the University of Baylor. He had originally signed to Penn State, but he was dismissed for violation of team rules. When he transferred to Baylor in 2012, he was off the entire season.
In 2013, he played in thirteen games as a back up defensive end, where he recorded 33 tackles and 2 sacks. Then, in 2014, Oakman had a break out season. He finished the season with 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.
He earned third team All-America honors from the Associated Press, and was a consensus All-Big 12 selection. He was projected by most scouts to be a first rounder in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he returned to Baylor for his senior season, where he only recorded 4.5 sacks in 2015.
Several early mock drafts predicted Oakman to be a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. In 2015, his draft stock fell. Scouts were concerned about Oakman's skinny lower body, lack of pass-rush technique, his inconsistency, and ability to play tougher competition. After Oakman's arrest on a sexual assault charge, which occured two weeks before the 2016 NFL Draft, he was wiped from many teams draft boards, and was called "undraftable" by an NFC executive. He went undrafted, and was not signed as an undrafted free agent.
The Torch’s signing of Oakman is huge for their defense. In his career, he has 128 tackles, 46.5 for loss, 8 forced fumbles, and 17.5 sacks. Against this kind of level of skill, Oakman should have a huge season. The Torch will be facing teams like the Carolina Energy, Georgia Doom, Vermont Bucks, Austin Wild, and Cape Fear Heroes where he should put up at least two sacks in each of those games.
The Indoor Football League released their 2018 season schedule on Tuesday. Each team will play 14 games, playing each opponent twice, as well as having three bye weeks. This will be the league’s 10th season. Here are the top games of the season.
The rematch of United Bowl IX will happen in Week 7 when the Rattlers visit the Storm. These two teams will meet Week 1 in Arizona, but this is when the atmosphere will be just like United Bowl IX.
Arizona won that game and look really good now. They re-signed many of their stars and also signed a new star in former Salt Lake Screaming Eagles quarterback Verlon Reed Jr. Fans of the IFL will be marking this game on their calendar.
Arizona Rattlers vs Sioux Falls Storm, Week 1
This game may have been better had it been played in Sioux Falls, but nonetheless, a rematch of United Bowl IX is a great way to open the season. The Storm will be looking to both open the season with a win and get revenge on Arizona from their title loss.
Nebraska Danger vs Iowa Barnstormers, Week 1
It will be former Jacksonville Sharks coach Mark Stoute against 2017 IFL Coach of the Year Dixie Wooten. This should be an interesting matchup, as Stoute led the Sharks to an 8-0 start last season in the NAL before being unexpectedly fired.
Wooten had his team in the conference title game before falling to Sioux Falls. This will be a great matchup between two coaches who know how to coach teams.
Bloomington Edge vs Cedar Rapids Titans, Week 1
This is looking like a new era of Cedar Rapids Titans football. After a 1-15 season in 2017, the team cleaned house. They fired their head coach and hired Billy Beck to take over. They also signed 2016 and 2017 IFL MVP Charles McCullum and his former receiver Jordan Jolly.
Their first test will be against the Bloomington Edge who return to the IFL after two seasons in the Champions Indoor Football (CIF). Bloomington will be looking to prove they belong in the league.
Bloomington Edge vs Western Michigan Ironmen, Week 5
The two teams that left the CIF for the IFL will face off for the first time in Week 5 in Bloomington, IL. Will these teams prove to be the same as they were in CIF? Or will they play to the IFL level?
The regular season will end on June 16. Playoffs will begin the following weekend, June 23, and United Bowl X will be played the weekend of July 6.
Veteran indoor/arena football quarterback Chris Dixon II led the Texas Revolution to a win over the Omaha Beef in the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) championship game on June 23.
Now, Dixon is recovering from shoulder surgery and he told Arena Football Talk Saturday “If you ask me today, I am not playing. The only thing is on my mind is helping my youth Outlaws team prepare and getting my shoulder right.”
Texas’ title in June was Dixon’s seventh in his career. However, it’s also his first since the 2013 season. Following a final stint with the New Orleans Voodoo in the Arena Football League, Dixon retired following six titles with the Billings Outlaws and the Sioux Falls Storm in the Indoor Football League.
“[I] Need to slowdown. [I] was always coming and going so I wanted to be around my kids and have time with them,” Dixon said. Over the next three seasons, he coached the team he won his first three titles with in Billings.
The team folded following the 2016 season and Dixon was out of a job. It wasn’t for long. In March 2017, he got a call from the Revolution front office to come play with them. Dixon accepted.
He went on to throw for 2,767 yards and 67 touchdowns in his lone season in Texas. He also rushed for 493 yards and 24 touchdowns, showing he hadn’t lost a step despite being out of the game for three seasons.
To this day, fans love to debate whether Dixon or another quarterback is the GOAT of indoor/arena football. In an interview with Arena Football Insider, Dixon was quoted as saying “some players have a knack to put up statistics. Others have a knack for winning, but great ones can do it all.”
Two men have come close to what Dixon has done. Nick Davila put up very impressive numbers during his time with the Arizona Rattlers and also won three consecutive championship games from 2012-14. Aaron Garcia put up great numbers, but only won one title. Dixon lost to them both.
He faced off against Davila and Garcia as a member of the Voodoo in 2013. The team lost both games, the game against Garcia coming at the end of the season.
If this is the end of Dixon’s career, he will be leaving behind a legacy. Of course, there is still much talent at quarterback in the Indoor Football League and Arena Football League, but it will be a very long time before a team can duplicate what he did, if anyone ever does it.
The Arizona Rattlers have announced the signing of former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall. He won’t be playing quarterback in the IFL, however. He will be playing the position he followed in the NFL, which is a defensive back.
Marshall comes from Pineview, GA. He originally played at the University of Georgia as a defensive back, but later transferred to Garden City Community College where he played quarterback and led them to a 7-4 record, while recording 37 touchdowns (18 in the air, 19 on the ground), and passing for 3,142 yards, and leading the team in rushing with 1,095 yards.
He then transferred to the University of Auburn, to continue playing quarterback. As an Auburn Tiger, the young stud quarterback put up very eye opening stats. He went 320 for 532 (60.2 completion percentage). He had 4,508 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, 13 interceptions, a 147.5 passer rating, 325 rushing attempts for 1,866 yards (5.7 rushing average), and 23 rushing touchdowns. The crazy thing? All of that came in two years. In 2013 he won the Iron Bowl against Alabama, in 2014 he won the SEC Championship, but lost in the 2014 BCS National Championship.
When he headed to the NFL, he was invited to the 2015 Senior Bowl as a quarterback, but announced that week that he was going to transition back to defensive back. After going undrafted, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He mostly played on special teams, but he did play in games. He even started in a week 17 game against the Houston Texans in 2015.
After being released by the Jags, and signed to their practice squad, he was picked up by the New York Jets on Oct. 12, 2016. On April 14, 2017, Marshall was suspended by the NFL for four games because he was tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs. He put up 18 combined tackles in the NFL, with one defended pass. Most of his contributions came on special teams as a kick returner, where he returned 25 kicks for 574 yards (23.0 avg).
Now, he's been signed by the Arizona Rattlers as a defensive back. This move will strengthen and possibly seal the deal with the Arizona Rattlers defense. The athleticism that Marshall offers is no doubt great. Marshall’s brother, Antonio Marshall, was also signed by the Rattlers.
The Wichita Force have signed their first player of the 2018 season.
Quarterback Joe Hubener, from Kansas State, has joined the Force. Hubener was a walk-on at K-State and eventually earned a scholarship. After graduation, he took a job in Clearwater, KS as an assistant coach and teacher.
"I spent most of my life in the Wichita area, so it is exciting to be able to continue playing football so close to home. Football is something I've always had a passion for. I look forward to continuing to grow as a player with the Force and helping them continue to compete at a high level in the CIF,” Hubener said on being with the Force,
General Manager Stuart Schake commented, "We are glad to have Joe back in the Wichita area! Watching him compete in high school, then in the collegiate level, his competitiveness and passion for the game makes him a proven winner. We are looking forward to his skill set and transition to the arena game."
Hubener played in 25 games from 2013 to 2016. He competed 162-331 (48.9 percent) of his passes. He threw for 2,347 passing yards for 11 TDs and 12 INTs. Hubener finished with a passer rating of 112.2. He also rushed 230 times for 780 yards (3.4 avg), and 18 touchdowns.
Hubener is someone to be excited for, Force fans. At 6'5, 215lbs, he has all of the intangibles you look for in an arena football quarterback. He has good arm strength, and played well in the short game. He has decent timing on the ball, but places it very well. Hubener is also what most scouts call a "slinger" quarterback. Some of the best arena quarterbacks are this way. He's also pretty tough, and he spends time working on his game. He should develop pretty quickly.
To the Wichita Force fans; You have a bright future ahead. To the rest of the CIF; You've got a challenge at hand.