3 Things To Watch as Hotshots camp opens
SAN ANTONIO — The Alliance of American Football has descended on south Texas, as players and coaches from all eight teams hit the fields in San Antonio for almost a month of training camp.
It’s a time of great anticipation for the Arizona Hotshots, who after meeting each other for the first time three weeks ago and practicing once, began in earnest the process of preparing for the inaugural season.
“This is a perfect opportunity for me,” Hotshots defensive lineman Will Sutton said of The Alliance. “This is giving me the opportunity to play the game that I love. We get to go out there and play more football in the springtime. When (the NFL) is done, we’re still playing.”
Phoenix-area fans will recognize Sutton and several Hotshots teammates who in college played for Arizona State, Arizona and Northern Arizona, or played high school ball in the Valley of the Sun.
As camp begins, here are three things to watch from the Hotshots from the outset.
1. Rick’s Rules
Back in December, Hotshots head coach Rick Neuheisel was asked about developing a culture with the team. He said he has two rules: Work hard and have fun.
“We have to have fun. This is why we’re doing this,” Neuheisel said.
Neuheisel said the aim for himself and his coaching staff to get players to “graduate” from The Alliance and into the NFL.
“And have a blast competing against really good players and really good coaches along the way,” he said.
2. Roster Spot Battles
As camp begins, there are 75 players for 52 spots on the Week 1 roster. At this point, there is no depth chart, so camp will be spent identifying who makes the team and who of that group will be starters on offense and defense.
Perhaps the only player with presumably a surefire spot as the No. 1 quarterback is Trevor Knight, the Hotshots’ top selection in The Alliance’s quarterback draft.
“Not everybody can stay, and you’re going to have to make some hard decisions,” Neuheisel said. “We want to do that in the best possible way, with all the information as to how a young man can get himself back going, or say ‘Hey, I’ve had my run and I’m going to do something else. That’s the only difficult part. The easy part is to come to work and everybody is wanting to do the same thing you are, which is do their best.”
3. Who Is The Offensive Coordinator?
Hugh Freeze was originally hired for the position but took the head coaching job at Liberty University. So the Hotshots went through their December minicamp without an offensive coordinator.
While it might not be known just who is in place to complete Neuheisel’s staff until camp opens — or thereafter — Neuheisel did offer a sense of what he envisions for the Hotshots’ offense.
It falls in line with what The Alliance wants to showcase for fans — high-octane offenses that entertain fans.
“We want to be a point-producing deal. That means we want to have the ability to have some tempo to our offense. We want to have the ability to have the quarterback be part of the run game at times,” Neuheisel said.