It may as well be another busy month in the National Arena League (NAL) as there were some more teams keeping and signing players. Let’s get updated on the NAL Off-Season End-of-Septemer report.
NAL Off-Season End-of September Report
Early in the month, the league was very quiet on who will be joining the league. So far, there is nothing being released, which means no new teams at this point.
There are, however, six teams that have put in their applications to join the league and play in the 2018 season. Those six teams are working on their leases with their arenas that they will be playing in.
The schedule for the upcoming season is being aimed toward October 1 as the release date, but things won’t work out with the possible new teams still figuring things out.
After a long couple weeks into the month of September, there was nothing on Boston, Providence, and Orlando joining the league.
Teams Leaving the NAL
On one note, the Richmond Roughriders have decided to back out of the NAL last second to join the American Arena League (AAL). They were previously in the Arena Pro Football (APF) League before leaving to come to the NAL. After the APF merged with the Can-Am Indoor Football League, the Roughriders made their decision to “go back” where they were in the previous year.
Exactly seven days after Richmond left for the AAL, the High Country Grizzlies follow their lead. The Grizzlies came out of nowhere and made their announcement that they have moved to the AAL for the 2018 season.
Toward the end of the month, the Monterrey Steel have ceased operations.
A message from Wide Receiver London Crawford reads, “I want to thank the city of Monterrey, Mexico for [accepting] and embracing me into their city, their family, their culture, and their life. It has truly been an honor and blessed experience being here in Monterrey and I will miss it. Today marks the day I will be no longer part of the Monterrey Steel family, not because I don’t want to be, but there is no longer a team in Monterrey, Mexico.”
The league came out shortly after this was said.
“Monterrey [Steel] has asked for more time to handle other business issues before turning in their membership to play in the NAL in 2018.”
Although it is not really 100% confirmed by the league or the team that the Steel have left, multiple players have came out and said that there will be no Monterrey Steel team.
This would put the league at five teams in the league (Jacksonville Sharks, Columbus Lions, Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, Georgia Firebirds, and New Jersey Flight).
Next, we will take a look at the transactions that happened in the month. First, we will start with the Jacksonville Sharks.
The Jacksonville Sharks had a busy month as well as other teams. Let’s see who all has been added and who they kept.
To start off September for the Sharks, they signed Defensive Lineman O.J. Mau, rookie from Gardner Webb University.
Offensive Lineman Dante Moses has been signed by the Sharks. The lineman has previously played in other professional teams in the arena league and indoor league, signing with the Las Vegas Outlaws in the Arena Football League (AFL), and Colorado Crush in the Indoor Football League (IFL).
Next, the Sharks keep Wide Receiver Emughedi Umodu. Started the season away from Jacksonville, but was signed later in the 2017 season and instantly became one of Jacksonville’s best receivers.
Umodu had 10 catches for 127-yards and two touchdowns in two games with Jacksonville in 2017 before the playoffs.
Adding weapons to the offensive squad, the Sharks have acquired Wide Receiver David Lewis from the Monterrey Steel. Lewis last season had six receptions for 59-yards and two touchdowns.
The Sharks keep Defensive Lineman Damien Jacobs. Jacobs was new in Jacksonville last season and recorded three solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles, brining his total up to eight tackles in three games. Jacobs also had one interception for six-yards.
A name that is very familiar in Jacksonville is Defensive Back Marvin Ross. Ross played six games with Jacksonville last season before leaving and going to the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League (CFL).
Last season with the Sharks in the NAL, Ross had 18 solo tackles and eight assisted tackles, bringing his number to 22 total tackles. To keep things going for Ross, he had eight interceptions for 112-yards and one touchdown.
Up next, the Sharks keep Defensive Back Micheaux Robinson for his ninth year with Jacksonville, continuing to be the only player in Jacksonville to stay with the Sharks all nine years of being a team.
In 2017, Robinson led the team in tackles with 34 solo tackles and seven assisted tackles. That racks his number up to 37.5 tackles. He also had five interceptions for five-yards.
Lastly for the Sharks, Fullback, Linebacker, Offensive Lineman, and Defensive Lineman Montavious Mack has returned to the team. Last season, Mack had one rush for no yards. Mack had a better defensive statistic with two solo tackles and eight assisted tackles, bringing a total of six tackles under his name.
Next on our list of teams’ transactions, we have the Columbus Lions. Last month, the Lions made multiple moves by keeping multiple players from last year and adding other great players from other leagues, thus, winning LWOS’ battle on who had the better month. Let’s see what they did in September.
The Lions signed Defensive Lineman Cory Crawford, rookie from Clemson. In the 2016-2017 season, Crawford helped the Crimson Tigers beat Alabama Roll Tide in the CFP National Championship 35-31.
To start the month for the Lions, they announced that they will be keeping Quarterback Mason Espinosa. Last year, Espinosa shared roles with Darren Daniel at the Quarterback position.
In nine games with Columbus last year, Espinosa threw 106-of-159 for 1,073 yards, 27 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He also rushed 15 times for 20-yards and four touchdowns.
Columbus have kept Kicker Lindsey Wolfe. Wolfe played in all games with the Lions last season and was five-of-five on field goals, 60-of-85 on Point After Touchdown (PAT) attempts, and kicked nine deuces.
Lastly, the Columbus Lions have kept Wide Receiver Tristan Purifoy. Last year, Purifoy helped lead his team to the NAL Championship game by recording 66 receptions for 793-yards, and 19-touchdowns.
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks
Lehigh Valley did a lot of moves, shifting from rookies to veterans. They are doing as much as they can to really get talent on the team.
Lehigh Valley aquired Wide Receiver Greg Betterson, rookie from Delta State University.
The Steelhawks have added Wide Receiver Donavan Campbell, rookie from Siena Heights.
Lehigh Valley have signed Quarterback Caleb Walton, rookie from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.
The Steelhawks added Linebacker Caleb Wright, rookie from Morrisville State College.
Fullback Andrew Edouard has joined the team. Edouard is a rookie from Bethune Cookman University.
The Steelhawks add a group of Wide Receivers to the team, grabbing Eric Brown, Eric Harvey, and Emeboshene Akonawe.
Brown is a rookie from Seton Hall, Harvey is a rookie from ETSU, and Akonawe is a rookie from Morgan State University.
Quarterback Shamar Graves joins the team. He is a rookie from Itawamba and will learn a lot under Smith Jr.
The Steelhawks have signed Offensive Lineman Tyler Deane, rookie from Eastern Kentucky.
Lastly for the rookies, the Steelhawks have added Wide Receiver Anthony Kelley, rookie from Kutztown.
Defensive Back Shakore Philip has joined the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks squad. Philip is a rookie from Widener.
Linebacker and Defensive Lineman Schnayder Termidor has joined the team. Schnayder is a rookie from Ithaca.
Next for Lehigh Valley, Wide Receiver, Defensive Back, and Linebacker Leroy Nesmith joins the team. Nesmith is a rookie from American International.
Offensive Lineman and Defensive Lineman Robert Reed Jr. has been added to the Steelhawks to protect the quarterback and to attack the opposing quarterback. Reed Jr. is a rookie from Delaware Valley.
Lehigh Valley has added another Offensive Lineman and Defensive Lineman mix to the roster. Tyrone Ezell has been signed to the team.
Offensive Lineman, Defensive Lineman, and Fullback Adonis Cruz has joined the Steelhawks squad. Cruz is a rookie from Cheyney.
The Steelhawks signed Fullback Undra Hendrix from the Free Agents list. In 2017, Hendrix played with the High Country Grizzlies.
In his time with the Grizzlies, Hendrix rushed 85 times for 298-yards and 12 touchdowns. He also had four receptions for 52 yards.
Not only did Lehigh Valley add Hendrix, who was dropped by High Country, but they have also added Wide Receiver and Defensive Back Brandon Fuentes from the Free Agents list after being let go by High Country.
The Steelhawks have kept Warren Smith Jr. as their quarterback last month. Now things are official this month as he signs the contract.
A big name that the NAL is familiar with is Defensive Back Svante Davenport. He has officially joined the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, giving them a boost and making them better contenders for the NAL championship next season.
Davenport played for the Monterrey Steel last season and recorded 22 solo tackles and nine solo tackles, bringing his number to 26.5 tackles. He also had seven interceptions for 74-yards and one touchdown.
Linebacker and Defensive Back Joe Koonce returns to the Steelhawks for his third year. In 2017, Koonce had 20 solo tackles and 12 assisted tackles, bringing his total to 26 tackles on the year. He also had one interception for 35-yards and one touchdown. To top things off, Koonce had one fumble recovery.
The Steelhawks have kept Defensive Lineman and Linebacker Tim Hume.
Hume with Lehigh Valley last year recorded 13 solo tackles and eight assisted tackles, racking his number up to 17 total tackles. He also had two fumble recoveries for three yards.
Defensive Lineman Eric Ducksworth has returned to the Steelhawks. Last season, Ducksworth recorded two solo tackles in three games. He also had one fumble recovery for no return.
Lehigh Valley has kept Wide Receiver and Defensive Back Russ Forchion Jr. for the upcoming season. Forchion Jr. recorded one catch for 10-yards last season. He also had three solo tackles.
In the middle of the month, Kicker Brandon Rutherford has went from the Monterrey Steel to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. Last season, Rutherford was 5-of-15 on field goals, 24-of-32 on Extra Points, and successfully cleared 12 deuces.
High Country Grizzlies
To start the Grizzlies month, they have kept Wide Receiver Dexter Jackson. In 2017, Jackson had three receptions for 35-yards and two touchdowns.
Shortly after this transaction, the Grizzlies have left the NAL for the AAL.
New Jersey Flight
Slowly but surely, the New Jersey Flight are getting into things, signing one person last month.
This month, they have signed Wide Receiver and Linebacker Shamar Graves, rookie from Rutgers.
Winners of September
In conclusion of every player that has been on the teams transactions list, the Jacksonville Sharks will win this battle over who had the better month in September. The Sharks kept their most consistent player (Robinson) that has performed well throughout the past years in Jacksonville. They have also signed their leader in interceptions (Ross), who only played six games last season (half of the regular season).
Jacksonville also took the time to look at players from other leagues and play in the NAL for the 2018 season.
To top things off for the Sharks in September, they kept two rising stars. What we mean by that is that they kept two players (Umodu and Jacobs) that joined the team late and became the star of the show once joining.
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks didn’t win, but here’s why. They almost beat the Sharks by adding multiple rookies and getting young talent, but there is no telling how much these rookies will shine.
The addition of Hendrix and Fuentes will help tremendously. They almost won this battle because of those two additions, but they would need just a little more to the puzzle to win the month.
The Columbus Lions didn’t win, but they’re adding players and keeping players just like last month. Columbus went all out in the month of August and made sure they would have all eyes on them. It’s going to be hard for Columbus to beat their month of August.
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