Thursday, September 26, 2013

Scouting the Bleacher Report Top 25 QBs of 2013, Part 5


Today, A11 Football Magazine will continue to take a look at the Bleacher Report’s list of the Top 25 quarterbacks for the 2013 college football season, and how they would stack up in the upcoming A11 Football League.

Today’s story looks at the quarterbacks in spots 1-5…

5. Braxton Miller, junior, Ohio State – Miller (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) would fit the A11FL mold quite nicely – but he might need a little more collegiate seasoning. Miller has missed the Buckeyes’ last two games due to a knee injury, and in a little more than a game’s worth of action this year, he is 17-for-24 for 208 yards, two touchdowns and an interception passing, and has 82 rushing yards. Through 26 collegiate games, Miller has run for 2,068 yards and 20 touchdowns, while throwing for 3,406 yards and 30 scores.

4. Marcus Mariota, sophomore (RS), Oregon – Mariota (6-foot-4, 211 pounds) burst on to the college football scene in 2012 by earning Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. The dual pass-run threat displayed the type of playmaking ability inside and outside of the pocket that A11FL coaches would fight themselves to acquire, throwing for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns and running for 752 yards and five scores. Mariota has had a strong start to the 2013 season, as well, throwing for 889 yards and seven touchdowns and running for 262 yards and four touchdowns in just three games.

3. Tajh Boyd, senior, Clemson – Boyd (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) has the intangibles to be a highly successful A11FL quarterback. He has had a fast start to the 2013 college football season, not getting picked off in 90 pass attempts through three games, while throwing for 683 yards and six touchdowns, and running for 90 yards and three scores. Boyd had started 27 games in each of the previous two seasons, and in each campaign, had at least 3,800 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. In 2012, he ran for 514 yards and 10 touchdowns.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, junior (RS), Louisville – A possible top pick in the National Football League in either 2014 or 2015, Bridgewater would be a better fit for the NFL than the A11FL due to his drop-back throwing style. The 6-foot-3, 196-pounder is off to a blazing start to the 2013 season, throwing for 1,214 yards, 14 touchdowns, one interception and a 71.8-percent completion rate in four games. In 30 career collegiate games, Bridgewater has thrown for 7,061 yards and 55 touchdowns (completing 67.5 percent of his passes), and but has ran for just 128 yards on 175 carries (including sacks).

1. Johnny Manziel, sophomore (RS), Texas A&M – There are a select few quarterbacks whom one could say the A11FL was made for. Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, is one of those quarterbacks. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is the complete run-pass package A11FL coaches would love to have taking snaps for their team. In 2012, Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns and ran for 1,410 yards and 21 scores. In four games in 2013, he has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,228 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions, and is second on the team with 255 rushing yards and three scores.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Scouting the Bleacher Report Top 25 QBs of 2013, Part 4


Today, A11 Football Magazine will continue to take a look at the Bleacher Report’s list of the Top 25 quarterbacks for the 2013 college football season, and how they would stack up in the upcoming A11 Football League.

Today’s story looks at the quarterbacks in spots 6-10…

10. Kevin Hogan, junior, Stanford – At 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, Hogan has just scratched the surface of his on-field potential. And if his first few collegiate starts are any indication, A11FL coaches will be looking to snap Hogan up. In 2012, in just 10 games (five starts), Hogan completed a whopping 71.7 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and just three interceptions, while finishing second on the team in rushing with 263 yards and two scores. So far in 2013, he has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 546 yards, seven touchdowns and two picks in three games, while running for 69 yards and a 5.8-yard average.

9. Taylor Martinez, senior, Nebraska – Martinez (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) has improved as a passer over the years, while continuing to be the big-time running threat that makes him a prime A11FL candidate. In 2012, he posted career-highs in completion percentage (62.0), passing yards (2,871), touchdown passes (23) and rushing yards (1,019). Martinez has started three of four Cornhusker games so far in 2013, and is completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 528 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception, and has run for 101 yards.

8. Aaron Murray, senior, Georgia – More of a drop-back passer than a runner, Murray’s game is impressive, but not necessarily a fit for the A11FL. He has posted big-time passing numbers so far in three games in 2013, completing 72 percent of his passes for 1,040 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions, but he has just 11 net rushing yards (53 gained, 42 lost). In his previous 41 games at Georgia – all starts – Murray (6-foot-1, 208 pounds) put up 10,091 yards and 95 touchdowns through the air, but had just 210 rushing yards in 233 attempts (includes sacks).

7. David Fales, senior, San Jose State – Fales (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) took a circuitous route to becoming the starter at SJSU, having spent the 2009 season at Nevada (didn’t play), then 2010-11 at Monterey Peninsula College. As a junior in 2012, Fales displayed his big-time passing ability (72.5 completion percentage, 4,193 yards, 33 touchdowns, nine interceptions), and he has posted 880 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions through the air in three games in 2013. But he is a classic drop-back passer (minus-173 rushing yards in 16 games with the Spartans), so his A11FL future doesn’t look bright.

6. A.J. McCarron, senior, Alabama – The measurables all say McCarron will be a solid professional – he’s 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, he led the nation in passing efficiency as a junior (173.08), and has won back-to-back national championships as a starting quarterback. So far in 2013, McCarron has thrown for 702 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in three games, and, prior to this season, he went one stretch of 291 pass attempts without throwing a pick – the second-longest streak in Southeastern Conference history. Like Murray and Fales, however, McCarron isn’t much of a runner, meaning he most likely isn’t a good fit for the A11FL.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scouting the Bleacher Report Top 25 QBs of 2013, Part 3


Today, A11 Football Magazine will continue to take a look at the Bleacher Report’s list of the Top 25 quarterbacks for the 2013 college football season, and how they would stack up in the upcoming A11 Football League.

Today’s story looks at the quarterbacks in spots 11-15…

15. Logan Thomas, senior, Virginia Tech – Thomas has the size to thrive in the A11FL (6-foot-6, 254 pounds), given how many hits a quarterback in the league might take. He also has the statistics that coaches like. Through the weekend, Thomas’ career record as a starter for the Hokies is 21-10, and he has thrown for 6,794 yards and 41 touchdowns, and added 1,085 yards and 22 scores on the ground. Thomas’ best season was as a redshirt sophomore in 2011, as he completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 3,013 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, ran for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns, and guided Tech to an 11-3 record.

14. Jordan Lynch, senior, Northern Illinois – Lynch has the one intangible that coaches love – he’s a winner. He guided Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl last year, and, in his first year as a college starter, put up the stats A11FL coaches would drool over – 3,138 yards, 25 touchdowns, six interceptions and a completion percentage of 60.2 passing, and 1,815 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing. So far in 2013, Lynch (6-foot, 216 pounds) hasn’t missed a beat, posting 662 yards and seven touchdowns through the air and 404 yards and two scores on the ground in three games.

13. Devin Gardner, junior (RS), Michigan – Following a highly-successful Wolverine quarterback in Denard Robinson, Gardner is getting his first shot at a full season as a starter at the collegiate level. He has shown the versatility that A11FL coaches will need – and want – to see. In 29 games at Michigan, Gardner has thrown for 2,281 yards and 20 touchdowns, ran for 476 yards and 14 scores and caught 17 passes for 268 yards and four scores. In four games to date in 2013, he has thrown for 801 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, and is Michigan's second leading rusher with 301 rushing yards (five touchdowns).

12. Brett Hundley, sophomore (RS), UCLA – Hundley, in just his second collegiate campaign, is seeing his star rising quickly thanks to both his passing and running prowess. In three games to date this season, he has thrown for 848 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions, while running for 157 yards and two more scores. As a redshirt freshman last year, Hundley (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) displayed the qualities A11FL coaches will be looking, throwing for 3,740 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completing 66.5 percent of his passes, and rushing for 355 yards (702 gained, 347 lost) and nine scores.

11. Derek Carr, senior, Fresno State – Carr (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) is the little brother of David Carr, an ex-Bulldog and former No. 1 overall pick in the National Football League Draft. He has gotten off to a strong start to his senior season, posting 1,121 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception in three games. Carr also has run for 43 yards on eight attempts in 2013. While Carr put up silly passing numbers the last two full seasons (7,648 yards and 63 touchdowns combined in 2011-12), his lack of high-end mobility (73 rushing yards on 123 carries, including sacks, in 2011-12) most likely would be a turnoff for A11FL coaches.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Scouting the Bleacher Report Top 25 QBs of 2013, Part Two


Today, A11 Football Magazine will continue to take a look at the Bleacher Report’s list of the Top 25 quarterbacks for the 2013 college football season, and how they would stack up in the upcoming A11 Football League.

Today’s story looks at the quarterbacks in spots 16-20…

20. Zach Mettenberger, senior, LSU – A11FL quarterbacks will have to be both accurate and mobile. Mettenberger is the former – completing 65.2 percent of his passes through the first three games of 2013 after a 58.8-percent completion rate in 2012. The problem is, he isn’t the latter – running for minus-208 yards (sacks are considered runs for quarterbacks in college) in 2012 and six yards so far in 2013. A11FL quarterbacks need to be able to run up the middle on draws, execute options and throw many passes per game on rollouts, waggles, etc. – something Mettenberger hasn’t been asked to do in college.

19. Bryn Renner, senior, North Carolina – As is the case with Mettenberger, Renner can put up a lot of points with his arm, but the potential to  match him with an A11FL team is hindered by a lack of mobility. Renner is off to a good start in 2013 (49-for-77, 533 yards, two touchdowns, one interception), and threw for more than 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in each of the last two full seasons. But the mobility, shown by the rushing stats (minus-88 in 2011, 38 in 2012 and minus-11 so far in 2013), isn’t there.

18. Casey Pachall, senior, TCU – Pachall continues the theme of high-quality college passers who don’t have a lot of mobility at their disposal. In 2011, he started 13 games, throwing for 2,921 yards and 25 touchdowns, but running for just 51 yards. In four games in 2012, Pachall threw for 948 yards and 10 scores, while running for just 23 yards. Pachall threw just 30 passes and ran just eight times this season before fracturing his left (non-throwing) arm – something which might allow him to take a medical redshirt.

17. Chuckie Keeton, junior, Utah State – Keeton has the tools to get the job done in the A11FL, and still has room to improve. As a sophomore in 2012, he threw for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns, was picked off just nine times and completed 67.6 percent of his passes – while also running for 619 yards and eight touchdowns. So far in 2013, Keeton is the Aggies’ leading rusher through three games (187 yards, one touchdown), but he also is completing a whopping 78.1 percent of his passes for 923 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one pick.

16. Connor Shaw, senior, South Carolina – Shaw has the goods to be an effective A11FL quarterback, and he also has an intangible any coach would love – toughness. In three games in 2013, Shaw is completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 661 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, while rushing for 202 yards. Fighting injuries in 2012, Shaw not only was the Gamecocks’ top passer (67.5 completion percentage, 17 touchdowns, seven interceptions), but he also was their second-leading rusher (435 yards, three scores).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Scouting the Bleacher Report Top 25 QBs of 2013: Part One


Beginning today, A11 Football Magazine will take a look at the Bleacher Report’s list of the Top 25 quarterbacks for the 2013 college football season, and how they would stack up in the upcoming A11 Football League. Today’s story looks at the quarterbacks in spots 21-25…

25. Brett Smith, junior, Wyoming – The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Smith gets the job done for the Cowboys both in the air and on the ground. Through the first three games of the 2013 season, Smith has passed for 6,401 yards, 56 touchdowns and just 20 interceptions in 26 collegiate games. That efficiency, accuracy (a career 61.7-percent completion rate) and his mobility (710 rushing yards as a freshman in 2011, and a career 4.1-yard average even when sacks are added to rushing totals) would make Smith a prime candidate to be successful in the A11FL.

24. Taylor Kelly, junior (RS), Arizona State – Another pass-run threat out West, Kelly and the Sun Devils are coming off a key 32-30 home win against another nationally-ranked team, Wisconsin. In two games in 2013, he has thrown for 652 yards and five touchdowns, while completing 63.4 percent of his passes and running for 49 yards. In his first season as a starter at ASU last fall, Kelly completed 67.1 percent of his throws for 3,039 yards, 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, while adding 516 net rushing yards (724 gained, 208 lost). At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, Kelly’s performance would suggest future A11FL success.

23. Cody Fajardo, junior (RS), Nevada – Following in the footsteps of former Wolf Pack and current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Fajardo (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) has put up some impressive numbers in Nevada’s Pistol offense. Despite having to face nationally-ranked UCLA and Florida State on the road so far this season, Fajardo has put up 403 yards and two touchdowns (no interceptions) through the air and ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns in three games. Fajardo’s numbers in his first two seasons as a starter would make any A11FL offensive coordinator happy – 4,493 yards and 26 touchdowns passing, and 1,815 yards and 23 touchdowns rushing.

22. Blake Bell, junior (RS), Oklahoma – Bell doesn’t have an extensive collegiate body of work to this point, but as a 6-foot-6, 252-pound quarterback who could take the direct snap or take a handoff in an A11 dual-QB formation, he at worst would be a nice goal-line option. He made his first college start last weekend vs. Tulsa, and went 27-for-37 for 413 yards and four touchdowns while running for 24 more yards. In 2011 and 2012, Bell ran for 24 touchdowns in 104 carries.

21. Jeff Driskel, junior, Florida – Driskel, at 6-foot-4, 237 pounds, is yet another dual threat. He set the Florida single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 177 last year against Vanderbilt, and finished with 413 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in 2012. As a passer last fall, Driskel completed passes at a 63.7-percent rate with 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions. In the first two games of 2013, Driskel is 39-for-55 for 444 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and has run for 38 net yards (71 gained, 33 lost) and a touchdown. His accuracy and running ability would be a good fit in the A11FL.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In the A11FL, versatility will be the rule, not the exception


Of all the myriad of statistics and hundreds of players from Week 2 in the National Football League, the numbers posted by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson were the ones that caught my eye:

-           1-for-1 passing for 17 yards.
-           One reception for 17 yards.
-           Three punt returns for 10 yards.
-           Four solo tackles.
-           One pass breakup.

According to Dictionary.com, versatile is defined as "...capable of or adapted for turning easily from one to another of various tasks, fields of endeavor, etc." Peterson showed that on Sunday. In fact, his picture should accompany that definition.

By design, dozens of A11 Football League players will display that kind of versatility on a weekly basis. The A11FL will not be for running backs who want to carry the ball 30 times a game, but can barely catch a cold or make a block on a blitzer on third down. A11FL running backs also will have to be able to line up wide and catch and block from time to time.

The A11FL also won’t be for 350-pound offensive tackles. A11FL tackles, who, in A11 formations will be “anchors” out wide, will have to be more like Jason Witten, not Jonathan Ogden. Players in the A11FL will still have to be NFL-caliber players. But they will have to have the physical and mental ability to be able to go from being a running back on first down to being a slotback on second down to being an anchor on third down.

Take, for instance, the case of erstwhile NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. In one series of A11FL play, Tebow may run a read-option play on first down from the quarterback position, be involved with a two-quarterback set on second down where either pivot could throw or run the ball, line up as a wingback on third down and take a handoff on an end-around and be the fullback on the punt team to try to trick the opposing team’s return unit.

With the types of athletes the A11FL will attract, along with the limitless options A11FL offensive coordinators will have in running both “traditional” and A11-type plays (thanks to the league’s only rule change – allowing as many as all 11 offensive players to wear pass-eligible jersey numbers), versatility not only will be a buzzword once kickoff comes – it will be a way of life in the League as a whole.

Friday, September 13, 2013

San Jose has no spring football past, can draw from nearby San Francisco, Oakland


San Jose, California, has no spring alternative outdoor professional football league experience to draw from.

That makes it one of those “untapped markets” that leagues love to look for.

San Jose also has an advantage in that it, according to Nielsen, is part of the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area market, which is the sixth-largest television market in the United States. San Jose is 45 minutes away from Oakland, and 50 minutes away from San Francisco.

Spartan Stadium, home of the San Jose State football team, is the only viable stadium in the city for a potential spring outdoor alternative professional football league team. The stadium seats 30,456 for football, and the Spartans averaged 10,789 fans per home game last fall.

Most recently, Spartan Stadium played host to a fall United Football League game in 2009. That game, between the “home” California Redwoods and the Las Vegas Locomotives, had a listed attendance of 4,312.

Near-by Santa Clara will be the new home of the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers starting next year, as Levi's Stadium will open with a grass surface and a capacity of 68,500.

BOTTOM LINE – Since San Jose is part of the Bay Area television market anyway, a new football league most likely first would look at either San Francisco or Oakland to place a team – and rightfully so.

And given that the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks (who averaged 100 percent capacity for attendance in 2012-13) still would be playing when a new football team kicks off, that adds another obstacle in San Jose’s way.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Austin has its Longhorns, but can it support outdoor spring pro football?


Austin, Texas, is a football haven in the middle of a football haven.

Everyone knows how much Texans love their football. And Austin is no exception – the University of Texas annually is among the most well-supported college football programs in the country.

In 2012, the Longhorns drew the fourth-most fans per home game among Football Bowl Subdivision programs, averaging 100,884 fans for games at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. In 2011, Texas ranked fifth in FBS (100,524 average), as it did in 2010 (100,654 average).

Also, the 10 largest crowds to see football at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (capacity 100,119) all have been posted since 2009.

The bottom line is this – football fans in and around Austin love their Longhorns. So having a rabid fan base would be the least of Austin’s problems if there was interest in placing a spring alternative outdoor professional football league team there.

Also, Austin’s market size (45th in the country, according to Nielsen) wouldn’t be prohibitive, since markets such as Memphis (49th) and Jacksonville (50th) have been very good spring football supporters in the past.

Austin, however, never has had a spring alternative outdoor pro football league team in any of the three previous major incarnations – the United States Football League, the World League of American Football and the XFL. And while Austin is one of the top “untapped markets” in the genre, there is no indication that Austin wants or would support a spring professional league.

BOTTOM LINE – Austin would be a very intriguing spring alternative outdoor pro football market if the support could be mustered. A team could be very successful if it had just a fraction of the success the Longhorns have.

Again, trying to play in a college football stadium has its obstacles, such as needing University approval to play in such a college-driven stadium/city, alcohol sales, etc. But if those obstacles were to be overcome, an Austin-based pro team could be a winner.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A new Orlando spring football team would have rich tradition to build from


There are few potential A11 Football League markets from the already-announced states that boast the extensive alternative outdoor spring professional football league history than Orlando, Florida.

- The city’s first foray into pro outdoor football in the spring came in 1985, when the United States Football League’s Washington Federals moved and became the Orlando Renegades. For one season, the Renegades played at the Citrus Bowl, and, despite inheriting the worst franchise in league history and the ’Gades going just 5-13, they drew an average of 24,136 fans per home game. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the Renegades was their Head Coach – Lee Corso, now a popular fixture on ESPN's College GameDay.

- For two seasons (1991-92), the World League of American Football’s Orlando Thunder called the Citrus Bowl home. In their second season, led by Head Coach Galen Hall and future National Football League quarterback Scott Mitchell, the Thunder went to the World Bowl in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, but lost to the Sacramento Surge. In 1991, Orlando drew at least 20,000 fans in four of five home games. In 1992, that number was just three of six home games, including playoffs.

- Orlando also had a team – the Rage – in the XFL in 2001. The Rage was third in the eight-team XFL in average home regular-season attendance at 25,563, and had the league’s best regular-season record at 8-2. Orlando, however, lost in the semifinals, and didn’t get a chance to make up for the Thunder’s title-game loss nine years earlier.

Not only does Orlando have a lot of previous success with alternative outdoor spring pro football leagues, it also is a surprisingly-large media market. In fact, of all United States television markets, according to Nielsen, Orlando is the second-largest (ranked 19th in television market size) without an NFL franchise (Los Angeles is second in television market size).

The two viable options in terms of venues in Orlando are the Citrus Bowl, which, at a capacity expandable to a little more than 70,000 for football, has proven to be cavernous, and Bright House Networks Stadium -- the home of the University of Central Florida Knights -- with a cozier capacity of slightly more than 45, 000. But the usual problems with college stadiums (alcohol sales mainly) would need to be worked out if Bright House Networks Stadium becomes a serious venue for A11FL.

BOTTOM LINE – Orlando makes sense in a lot of ways for a new spring outdoor pro football league, and there have been successes on the field and off in the past. But even though it was a different time of year, the lack of attendance for the United Football League’s Florida Tuskers for two seasons (2009-10) may be a turnoff – at least initially.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ann Arbor has the Wolverines, need for spring pro team isn’t there


There are few fan bases in college football bigger or more rabid than that for the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the home of the university and the Wolverine football program, a college football staple since 1879. Michigan Stadium’s current capacity is 109,901, and the Wolverines averaged an NCAA-record 112,252 fans per game in 2012 – breaking their own record from 2011 (112,179).

In fact, Michigan has led NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools in average home attendance for 15 consecutive seasons.

How much do Wolverine fans love their football team? They drew nearly 18,000 fans on a cold and snowy mid-April afternoon for the annual Mott Spring Game.

However, for as much as Ann Arbor-based – and nearby city-based – Wolverine fans love “The Big House,” it doesn’t seem like a good fit for a new spring outdoor alternative professional football league team. At no time has Ann Arbor ever had an outdoor pro football team, nor has the desire ever seemed to have been there.

In addition, with a much-bigger market in Detroit just 45 minutes away (Ann Arbor isn’t listed on the Nielsen television market list - http://www.tvb.org/media/file/TVB_Market_Profiles_Nielsen_Household_DMA_Ranks2.pdf), the more desirable choice in Michigan for a new spring outdoor alternative pro football league team would be the Motor City, not a city a sixth of Detroit’s size.

BOTTOM LINE – It’s unlikely the Wolverines will fall out of the No. 1 spot in terms of Division I average home attendance any time soon. But it also is just as unlikely Ann Arbor would be the home of a Michigan-based spring outdoor alternative pro football league team any time soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No doubt about it – plenty of A11FL-type players will be available when the ball’s kicked off


The players who will participate in the A11 Football League, both in showcase games in May and when the league kicks off its first full season in March of 2015, will be National Football League-caliber players who fit the A11 game.

Who might those players be? Well, there are hundreds and hundreds of players on the open market right now, and a lot of them are listed at great web sites updated frequently by Adam Caplan - http://thesidelineview.com/columns/caplans-nfl-corner/best-available-nfl-free-agents-offense and http://thesidelineview.com/columns/caplans-nfl-corner/best-available-nfl-free-agents-defense.

Those lists will change daily between now and when A11FL games will be played. But here are some of the players who might be targeted if they were to be available for the league around the time player acquisition begins:

-               The most obvious player who would fit the A11 offense the best is former University of Florida, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow’s athletic ability and offensive background would fit an A11-style attack to a T. One easily could imagine Tebow playing in front of a packed house for the Florida-based A11FL team – and leading it to a lot of late-game comebacks.

-               Or imagine a quarterback like Vince Young running Base (I) Montana Smoke Shoot for a big game for the Texas-based A11FL squad. Young was a surprising cut by the Green Bay Packers in most circles, and he has plenty of gas left in the tank following his days at the University of Texas, and with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles.

-               Looking for a high-quality A11FL running back – one who can run, receive and block? Former Houston Texan and Miami Dolphin Steve Slaton just might do the trick. Slaton rushed for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns with Houston as a rookie five years ago, and had back-to-back reception seasons of 50 and 44 in his first two NFL campaigns.

-               Of course, A11FL teams are going to look for productive wide receivers, and some choices right now could come from a group that includes Lavelle Hawkins (47 catches for Tennessee in 2011), Early Doucet (54 catches for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011) and Mike Thomas (66 catches for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010). An A11FL team looking for a tall tight end who could double as a wide receiver could do worse than 6-foot-6 Evan Moore, who caught 34 passes for the Cleveland Browns just two years ago.

-               A11FL defenses are going to have to have very versatile players, as well – ones who can rush the passer or run blitz on one down, and be able to cover receivers out in space the next. Former Eagles, Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders linebacker Omar Gaither has recorded 334 total tackles, six sacks, two interceptions and 18 pass breakups during his professional career.

-               Former Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots defensive end/linebacker Marcus Benard has shown flashes of his ability at the professional level, recording 7½ sacks, two pass breakups and 28 total tackles during the 2010 NFL season with the Browns.

-               And A11FL cornerbacks will have to cover receivers of all heights and speeds. Former San Francisco 49er and Raider corner Shawntae Spencer has accomplished a lot in his nine-year NFL career, picking off 11 passes and defending 53 more.

Make no mistake – there is more than enough high-quality talent to fill eight A11FL rosters in just 18 months. It might be some of the names mentioned here, and it might not.

But no matter whose names they are, they will bring exciting professional football to eight cities – maybe one near you – very soon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A potential spring football team in San Fran would have just the XFL experience to follow


San Francisco, California, has a lot of football tradition to offer a possible new spring outdoor alternative professional football league team.

It also doesn’t hurt that, according to Nielsen, San Fran is the sixth-largest United States television market.

San Francisco, of course, has been the home of the National Football League’s 49ers since 1946 – back in the old All-America Football Conference days. They will play their final season at Candlestick Park this fall before moving into the new Levi’s Stadium in near-by Santa Clara. Levi’s Stadium will have a grass surface, and will have a capacity of 68,500.

The five-time Super Bowl-champion 49ers still get great fan support to this day, as they were 12th in the NFL last year in average capacity filled per home game (99.3 percent), 10th in 2011 (99.3 percent), 10th in 2010 (99.3 percent) and 12th in 2009 (99.3 percent).

While Levi’s Stadium would be the obvious top choice for a new spring outdoor alternative pro football league team, it isn’t the only such viable venue in the San Francisco area.

AT&T Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, has been the home of quite a few football games in the past, including alternative football teams like the San Francisco Demons (XFL, 2001) and the California Redwoods (United Football League, 2009). And it would be more than big enough for a pro football team at a capacity of 41,503.

Close by in San Jose is Spartan Stadium, home of the San Jose State football team. Spartan Stadium seats 30,456 for football. About 40 minutes away is the Stanford Cardinal’s football team’s stadium – Stanford Stadium (50,000 capacity). And roughly 45 minutes away from San Francisco is the home of the California Bears football team, California Memorial Stadium (63,000 capacity).

BOTTOM LINE – San Francisco’s XFL experience not only ended with the Demons playing in the league’s championship game, but also with the league’s best average home attendance (35,005). That, along with the history of supporting the 49ers, the market size and the ample venues available, would make San Francisco very desirable for any new football league.