AAF Team Preview: Atlanta Legends

Atlanta Legends:

The name and colors (purple, gold, white) are tributes to famous historical figures from the city of Atlanta.

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Stadium: 

Georgia State Stadium: The stadium is the home of the Georgia State University Panthers football team as of the 2017 season. They made $52.8 million worth of renovations in 2017 which includes; installing an artificial turf playing surface, upgrading locker rooms, and increasing the initial capacity for the stadium from 23,000 to 33,000.

 General Manager: 

Bill Devaney: Devaney is a 63 year-old is a professional American football analyst on ESPN. Prior to that Devaney was a football executive. He was the general manager for the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League from 2008 to 2011, and was fired at the end of the 2011 season after a 10-38 record as GM. Prior, he was the assistant to the general manager with the Atlanta Falcons. He also spent time as a college and pro scout with the Washington Redskins and as a director of pro personnel with the San Diego Charger

Head Coach: 

“Kevin is an experienced, confident coach who has build a well-respected coaching resume over the years and is ready to take charge of the Legends.”J.K. McKay, Head of Football Operations for The Alliance

Kevin Coyle: 17-year NFL coaching veteran Coyle replaces Brad Childress, who stepped away head coaching role during the middle of the Legends training camp. Coyle receives his first head coaching opportunity, with prior experience as a defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL, as well as spent time coordinating defenses at the collegiate level with Holy Cross, Syracuse, Maryland and Fresno State.

“At the end of the day, I am guy that loves the game and loves working with these young men and teaching the aspects of the game.” -Legends HC Kevin Coyle 

Offense:

Offensive Coordinator:

Michael Vick: Vick, the former 4x Pro Bowler is considered one of the greatest athletes Atlanta, and arguably the most electrifying player in NFL history is running the offense for the Legends.

Update: (Vick is no longer the offensive coordinator, but still will remain with team according to head coach Kevin Coyle)

“He’s had a number of commitments that he’s been fulfilling with FOX in the broadcasting end of things so he hasn’t been able to be with us full time as we’d like him to be. We’re going to try to carve out exactly the role that he can take.” -HC Kevin Coyle on Michael Vick.

Quarterbacks:

Matt Simms: The son of NFL QB Phil Simms has shockingly earned the starting job over the Legends first round pick Aaron Murray. Simms is looking to defy all odds, playing in his first professional football regular season game since 2014. Simms signed as undrafted free agent in 2012 by the New York Jets, where he spent three season appearing in four games. Simms ended up landing on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad for 2015-2017, so he is accustomed to the area, and now this appears to be the perfect last-shot opportunity in the AAF to help possibly get another shot in the NFL.

Aaron Murray: The former University of Georgia star quarterback is back in the state of Georgia, but somehow lost the starting job to Matt Simms. Murray was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs after shattering records at Georgia. He last spent time with the Rams after being cut in 2017, as well as commentating college football on CBS Sports.

“He knows what he is looking for from the defense, the receivers and from us (quarterbacks),””To have that other eye that has played in this offense and the NFL is great as a quarterback.”-Aaron Murray on playing for Michael Vick.

Peter Pujals: Pujals is a very interesting QB prospect at 24-years-old who could definitely use the league to develop his skills. He spent this past offseason with the Minnesota Vikings. In college he played at Holy Cross, and at his pro day he ran a 4.6 40-time, and interestingly has longer arms than fellow rookie quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, with a 6.9 3-cone fast as Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen.

Running Backs:

“We have a really unique position where all of our running backs have the ability to use speed and power in their game,” Simms said. “I think it’s really exciting to see that continue in the future, -QB Matt Simms on Legends RB’s.

Denard Robinson: The former University of Michigan starting QB has definitely been in the spotlight before. Robinson was featured on the cover of the last of the EA Sports NCAA Football games in 2014, due to his electrifying display in college. In 2010 he was a first-team All-American, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2010), and first-team All-Big Ten after rushing for an incredible 1702 yards for 14 touchdowns as a QB.

Robinson was selected as running back in the fifth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft. In July 2016, Robinson was found passed out in a partially submerged vehicle, and then was released by the Jaguars. He tried out for teams but has not been able to land on an NFL roster since, but Robinson is optimistic about his new opportunity. Robinson states, “I think our running back room can be the best group in this league”.

Akrum Wadley: Wadley is a 23 year-old running back who just went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft out of the University of Iowa. Wadley was very impressive at Iowa, during his career there he rushed for 2,872 yards over 536 carries with 28 touchdowns. Wadley has all the ability to be able to strive in this league.

Tarean Folston: 6th best RB in the country in HS, Notre Dame. Tore ACL his junior season. His father, James, was a second round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders in the 1994 NFL Draft and played eight seasons in the NFL. Folston at 24 years-old went undrafted in 2017, and has yet to have any opportunity in the NFL.

Lawrence Pittman: Pittman is an undrafted rookie running back who played collegiately at Wingate State. He had a very productive career at the small school rushing for 3512 rushing yards (5.0 avg.) for 39 touchdowns.

Wide Receivers:

Montay Crockett: Crocket is 25 year-old at 6 foot went undrafted in 2017 after playing college ball at Georgia Southern University. He was picked up after the draft by the Green Bay Packers. Crockett has obviously impressed NFL teams in workouts, he has been apart of 6 NFL organizations within 2 seasons. Crockett has not had a chance in a regular season game, so he will have the chance to prove he worth sticking on an NFL roster.

Bug Howard: In his four-year career at UNC, Howard played in 46 games alongside NFL receivers Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins, catching balls from Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky. He caught 146 passes for 2,048 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. After spending time on the Colts, Browns, and Panthers, the big 6’4″ target will look to capitalize on this opportunity, and could be a nice red-zone & two point conversion target for Simms.

Justin Thomas: He originally committed to play college football at the University of Alabama to play college football but changed to Georgia Tech. He made the change due to Georgia Tech offering him a chance to play quarterback, Alabama wanted to use him at defensive back. Thomas was a starting QB at Georgia Tech in their triple option system for three seasons, and ended up going undrafted in 2017. Thomas spent the last two seasons on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad, and at 24 years-old he is looking to showcase his athletic ability, and prove to teams he is capable to play receiver in the NFL.

James Quick: Quick played collegiate ball at Louisville, compiling 126 catches, 2,032 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns with the Cardinals. Quick also spent time with the Washington Redskins in the NFL. The last name is pretty ironic to his ability as a football player…

“Stretching the field is what I like to do and that is what I bring to the table. I am a guy that can get around defenders,” -James Quick said on his speed.

“I was working and selling cars. I got the phone call from my agent telling me I had an opportunity to come play for the Atlanta Legends. With me, I have been out of football for almost two years. Coming back and having a chance to play football again was very exciting for me,” -James Quick on excited opportunity.

Malachi Jones: After going undrafted out of Appalachian State in 2016, Jones signed with the High Country Grizzlies of the National Arena League (NAL) in 2017, where he was awarded the 2017 National Arena League Rookie of the Year. Jones was assigned to the Albany Empire of the Arena Football League (AFL), where he won the 2018 Arena Football League Rookie of the Year Award and Wide Receiver of the Year. Jones is the only rookie in league history to win both awards in the same season finishing with 94 receptions for 1,439 Yards and 36 touchdowns along with 5 rushing touchdowns in 14 games.

Jones has been working on his chemistry with Quarterback Aaron Murray twice a week along with Seantavious Jones before the training camp even started.

“It’s been huge to have the opportunity to throw with Aaron (Murray) over the last two months. We’re out there twice a week going over the plays and making sure we get certain routes down that we like to build chemistry.” -Legends WR Malachi Jones

Seantavius Jones: The 6’4″ receiver is 26 years-old searching for his first opportunity to make an impact in a live professional football game. Jones has been apart of four different NFL organization’s practice squad since 2014, and has yet to record an official reception in the NFL.

Ervin Philips: Phillips is an undrafted rookie out of Syracuse, who was cut after spending the preseason with the Indianapolis Colts. At 5’11” 180 lb. he had a terrific college career racking up 224 receptions (90, 89 last two years), and earned second-team All-ACC his senior year in 2017.

Tight Ends:

“I feel good about this tight end group we have at camp, they are built to play the tight end position in this offense. They are big, talented, athletic guys that make great one-on-one matchups against a defense. I’m excited to see how they continue to develop during camp.” -Legends QB Aaron Murray on Tight End Group.

Charles Standberry: The 6 foot 3 former Louisiville tight end is known for his ability to stretch the field in the passing game. … Earning 1st team reps He has been working on blocking and his main priority is being a leader and setting an example.

“I’m going to work hard and set the best example for my group. We are all in it together. I am a leader and I feel like God put me here to be a leader. It is one thing I am going to do and that is lead for the most part.” -Legends TE Charles Standberry

Keith Towbridge: The 6’5″ tight end went undrafted in 2017 and was signed by the Buffalo Bills. He later was placed on IR, and spent this season on the Bills practice squad. Towbridge will look for his first opportunity in a professional football regular season game.

Garrett Hudson: Hudson is a 6’4″ 240 lb. undrafted rookie free agent. He began his college career at UNC, and then transferred to Rhode Island. He posted an impressive 4.6 40-time, with a 34″ vertical at his pro-day.

Offensive Linemen:

Tackles:

John Kling: Kling, a New York native, played for the University at Buffalo from 2012-15. He appeared in 34 games, playing a career-high 12 games his senior year. Kling should have no problem adjusting in a new league, with his experience pent time in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, as well as the Canadian and Arena football leagues.

Avery Gennesy: The 6 foot 3 Gennesy was a former four-star junior college transfer, before transferring to Texas A&M Aggie.Gennesy redshirted his first season on campus before becoming the team’s starting tackle his final two years. In a bit of a surprise, he went undrafted in 2017, and then was signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns these past two season past but was never on either active roster.

Brandon Pertile: Pertile comes in at 6’6″ 320 lbs, and is an undrafted rookie from the University of Virginia

Tyshon Henderson: Henderson is a huge 6’7″ 340 lb. prospect from Newark, NJ. Henderson played college ball at a much smaller-school within the city named Clark Atlanta University.

Guards:

Chase Farris: The former Ohio State offensive linemen went undrafted following the 2016 NFL draft. Farris spent time within the New England Patriots organization, and was on their practice squad when they beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl two years ago. Farris was cut the following year on an injury settlement due to tearing his Achilles, which was the last time he was on an NFL roster.

“My mentality is to get everybody dialed in and on point before the game. We just want to make sure everyone plays together and if we do that, we can be successful,” -Freddie Burden on his mental preparation

Trae Moxley: Moxley is a undrafted rookie 6 foot 6 guard and former tight end from Colorado State. Moxley had a tryout this past offseason with the Arizona Cardinals.

Matthew Schmidt: Schmidt is a 6’3″ 290 lb. undrafted rookie free agent from Furman.

Center:

Freddie Burden: Freddie Burden was a three year starter at center for Georgia Tech. He was an All-ACC selection as a senior. Burden is very familiar with the area, and has just received tryouts in the NFL, so he really is looking to make the most of this one.

Defense:

Defensive Coordinator:

Louie Cioffi: Cioffi is an experienced defensive NFL assistant. Cioffi most recently was the defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns during the 2016 season, and two seasons for Tennessee Titans in 2014 and 2015. His first stint with the Browns came during the 2013 season, where he guided CB Joe Haden and S T.J. Ward to their first Pro Bowl selections.

Defensive Linemen:

Defensive Ends:

J.T. Jones: Jones was a star at the University of Miami of Ohio where in 49 career games, he collected 24.5 sacks and was named second-team All-MAC in 2016. After getting a shot with the Falcons, J.T. Jones is back in Atlanta looking to seize another opportunity with The Legends.

“He is definitely one of the leaders,” Thompson said of Jones. “He is not a real big talker. However, he talks with his pads, with his effort, and his play. It’s not surprising that guys are following his lead,”  -DL Coach Leroy Thompson on J.T. Jones

Tavarius Barnes: Barnes signed with the New Orleans Saints after going undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Clemson. After spending time with the Redskins and the Buccaneers, he signed a reserve/future contract with the Redskins on January 1, 2018, but was waived on August 7, 2018.

Defensive Tackles:

T.J. Barnes: Clemson is a gigantic 28-year-old tackle 6’6″ 375 lb. who has spent time with six NFL organizations. He went undrafted in 2013, was last cut by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, but has only recorded nine tackles in the NFL. Barnes definitely could be doing a ton of run stuffing and clocking up holes this season for the Legends.

David Dean: Dean is a 25-year-old defensive tackle who played collegiately at the University of Virginia.As a senior, He had 10.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in four seasons with the Cavaliers, and spent time on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad.

Tracy Sprinkle: Sprinkle is an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State where he only appeared in 14 games, recording 20 tackles. Sprinkle ran posted a 5.08 40-time at his pro day and signed with the Carolina Panthers after the draft. He will be looking to receive a quality amount of game reps in hope to prove to an NFL team he’s worth the shot.

Bijhon Jackson: Jackson is a 6 foot 2, 330 lb. undrafted rookie from Arkansas State. Despite being 330 pounds, he’s proved he can move for a bigger guy at his pro day where he posted a 5.27 40-time.

Linebackers:

Outside Linebackers:

Dylan Donahue: Donahue played at Palomar College and West Georgia before he was drafted by the New York Jets in the fifth round, 181st overall, in the 2017 NFL Draft. Donahue is extremely talented but has had a real difficult problem staying out of trouble…

Dating back to May 9, 2017, he has been arrested twice for two DUI’s. In Montana for drunk-driving, where his blood alcohol content was 0.137, and was fined $1,000, and given a three-month suspended sentence. On the second incident, he was arrested for driving the wrong way in the Lincoln Tunnel, where he crashed into a bus. On September 1, 2018, Donahue was waived by the Jets, so now for himself he will optimistically look to leverage this opportunity into receiving another NFL opportunity.

KeShun Freeman: Freeman is a 6’3″ 245 lbs. undrafted rookie out from Georgia Tech. He posted a 4.68 40-time, with a very impressive 10 foot 6 inch broad jump.

Brandon Watts: Watts was selected in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. At his Pro Day, Watts stood out with a 4.41 40-yard dash, 37.5 inch (0.95m) vertical jump, and 10’3″ (3.14m) broad jump, which would have all been near the top at this position at the combine. He wast cut by the Miami Dolphins in 2017.

Tyriq McCord: McCord in a 6’3″ linebacker who has played college ball at the University of Miami. At 25-years-old he spent last season after going undrafted in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Inside Linebackers:

Jeff Luc: Luc was a standout high school all-american recruit from Florida, rated four stars by Rivals and the number one inside linebacker recruit in the country. He bounced around with four NFL teams, and last played in the Canadian Football League along with his teammate Khalil Bass.

Khalil Bass: Bass has not played football since 2012. Along the way, Bass also met Legends teammate Jeff Luc, both played alongside each other last season and hope to continue the trend with the Legends.

Ro’Derrick Hoskins: Hoskins is a 6 foot 2 inside back that played 36 games in college for the Florida State Seminoles. He finished his career with 159 tackles and went undrafted following last draft.

Defensive Backs:

Cornerbacks:

Dorant Grant: Grant was a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and was ranked as the No. 3 cornerback in his class. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Grant in the fourth round (121st overall) of the 2015 NFL draft. On September 1, 2018, Grant was waived by the Chicago Bears.

“Honestly, I think this defense and team can be pretty special,”-CB Doran Grant on Legends’ defensive potential.

Des Lawrence: At 6-1, Lawrence spent time within the Detroit Lions organization after going undrafted after playing his college career at UNC. Lawrence was an established starter with the Tar Heels, finishing his career with 175 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble.

Damian Swann: Swann was a former 2nd Team All-SEC at Georgia in 2013. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He then signed a four-year contract with the Saints on May 11, 2015. He played in seven games, starting two, for the team during the 2015 season.

Swann has had issues staying healthy; he suffered three concussions in a span of nine weeks and was placed on the injured reserve list with three weeks to go in the season. He returned to the team for training camp in 2016, but on August 31, 2016 it was reported that the Saints had again placed him on injured reserve, ending his season. On September 2, 2017, Swann was waived by the Saints

Dwayne Hollis: Hollis was a former Arena Football star corner for the Philadelphia Soul. He was awarded as the league’s Defensive Back of the Year, and was a two-time Champion with the Soul. Hollis also spent time oversees playing for the Shanghai Skywalkers which illustrates his love to play the game no matter where or who is watching.

Donatello Brown: Undrafted out of Valdosta State in 2017, he spent two seasons with the Green Bay Packers after they let him go at last season’s final cuts. At 27-years-old Brown was signed later in training camp and he will look to prove he can make it in the NFL.

Safeties:

Quincy Mauger: Mauger signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent on May 1, 2017. He was waived/injured by the Falcons on September 2, 2017 and placed on injured reserve. On June 11, 2018, Mauger was waived by the Falcons. On August 9, 2018, Mauger signed with the Oakland Raiders. He was waived on September 1, 2018.

Ed Reynolds: His father is the former NFL linebacker and league official of the same name, Ed Reynolds. All American at Stanford in 2013. Reynolds was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round, 162nd overall, in the 2014 NFL Draft. On December 13, 2015, in a game against the Buffalo Bills he recorded his first career interception. Reynolds was released by the Browns on September 4, 2017.

Tyson Graham: Graham is a 6’2″ safety who formerly played receiver at South Dakota State, recently spent time on the Atlanta Falcons and previously beforehand with the Indianapolis Colts.

Donnie Miles: Miles is a 5 foot 11, 210 pound safety who went undrafted in last year’s draft despite a tremendous career at the University of North Carolina. He was a 4-year starter playing in 45 games; recorded 320 career tackles. and was an honorable mention for All-ACC his senior year in 2017.

Corey Griffin: The 6 foot 2 safety  is a local guy very familiar with the area looking for an opportunity. He played collegiately at Georgia Tech finishing with 168 tackles in his career. Griffin has great size and speed for a safety with a 77-inch wingspan, as well as posting a 4.56 40-time at his pro day.

Carlos Merritt: Merritt is an undrafted rookie from Campbell, playing three seasons (31 games). As a senior in 2017, Merritt he was selected first-team All-Conference (Pioneer League) after leading the conference with six interceptions (tying a school record), and added 94 tackles (2nd-most in school history).

Special Teams:

Kicker:

Younghoe Koo: Koo was born in South Korea, and moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey in sixth grade. He played college football at Georgia Southern Eagles, where as a senior he earned all-conference honors in the Sun Belt Conference. Koo became a starter for the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2017, before being released four weeks into the season after going 3 for 6 in field goal attempts.

Punter:

Cam Nizialek: Nizialek was a former Georgia Bulldog, and was a graduate transfer from the Ivy League’s Columbia. In 2017, he averaged 45.0 yards over 61 punts in 2017 (Georgia’s best since 2009), went undrafted in the NFL Draft and unsigned after. However, he now has found a landing spot that will allow him to continue and progress his career in the professional ranks.

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