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Former Wake Forest leader ready for fresh start in Arizona

By. Kaci Demarest, Arizona Hotshots Content Manager  John Wolford and his brother were sitting in New York watching the AAF Quarterback draft progress when suddenly his phone rang. It was Arizona Hotshots Head Coach Rick Neuheisel and General Manager Phil Savage. “I thought he was a competitive guy, he’s just a winner,” Neuheisel said. “He’s just a gritty son of a gun.” Wolford had the chance to talk with the Arizona team during the Quarterback mini camp in San Antonio and knew Arizona could be one of the teams to take a shot at him because their offensive plan was the same one he’d ran in college. Neuheisel said with the style of play that is going to shape the AAF, its imperative to have an athletic quarterback and that’s a large part of what drove them to lean towards Wolford in the second round. “The way football is going, you need guys that can create because sometimes the windows are small and you’ve gotta roll out and make a play,” Wolford said. Wolford spent his collegiate days at Wake Forest. Per Alliance allocation rules, Wake Forest is one of the schools that doesn’t have a designated team so he entered the draft as an unallocated quarterback. “Our hope was that we would be in position to get him, and ultimately, he was still there in the second round, so we were really excited that John was available to us,” Savage said. During his senior campaign, Wolford had 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He capped off his collegiate career by scooping up the Belk Bowl MVP after throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-52 victory against Texas A&M. Savage added: “He’s tough. He’s got a quick arm, quick feet, he’s a quick processor and just sees things well.” Coming out of college, Wolford took and momentarily put his job at finance company on hold to pursue an opportunity with the New York Jets during training camp last year. He said the biggest thing that he took away from the camp was  learning from pros like Josh McCown and even rookie Sam Darnold on how they prepare ahead of games. “You pick up on why guys are able to make things work, what makes them successful, and you try to bring that with you as you go,” Wolford said. Wolford’s been training at his alma mater where he has the chance to throw to receivers who didn’t see action during the season and ramping up ahead of Hotshots training camp in January. “This is a dream of mine to continue playing football and this is just the next shot at it,” Wolford said. “I’ve played since I was five years old, and I’m going to keep playing until they tell me to hang up the cleats.”

Hotshots First Round Selection Draws on Family Influence, Prior Arizona Football Experience

By. Kaci Demarest, Arizona Hotshots Content Manager  As Trevor Knight waited backstage at the The Alliance of American Football Protect or Pick Quarterback Draft, he didn’t know how the evening would shake out but he was excited to get started in whatever city he ended up in. “I had the chance to spend time with every team at our QB minicamp in San Antonio,” Knight said. “I was really excited with the Arizona staff and what they’re planning on the offensive side of the ball.” During the first round, the Arizona Hotshots picked Knight because they liked his athleticism at the position. Arizona Hotshots General Manager Phil Savage thought he was the total package for their first selection. “From a physical standpoint, he’s got plenty of arm strength,” Savage said. “He’s a very good athlete.  He’s extremely fast. He ran a 4.54 at the combine when he came out for the [NFL] draft a few years ago.” With the draft in the rearview mirror and the inaugural season coming up quick, Knight’s looking forward to returning to his hometown of San Antonio for the month. “Getting to play ball back in your home city is special,” Knight said. “I’ll get to see a lot of different people that have shaped the path of my football career.” Those people include his twin brother, Connor, and his dad, who was the first person he called after he found out he was heading back to Arizona. “He was always around, whether he was a coach or getting into school ball he was always there on the sidelines,” Knight said. “I’ve always shared a pretty unique bond in sports and just life. He’s definitely one of my heroes so of course he was one of the first people I called after I got drafted.” Connor has been right beside Trevor for the majority of his football career. The two grew up as a quarterback receiver duo all the way through their days at Oklahoma until Trevor transferred to Texas A&M his senior year. “It was one of the things that made that decision so difficult for me because I had never been away from my brother before, never played on a team that he wasn’t a part of,” Knight said. The experience turned out to be beneficial because he was able to get off the field and call up his brother or turn on the TV to watch him play. Leading up to the inaugural season, Knight’s stayed busy off the field as well finishing his master’s from Texas A&M in Business Management ahead of mini camp in Phoenix. He said he’s looking forward to return to the Valley where he previously spent a stint with the Arizona Cardinals. “I loved Arizona when I was out there the first time, and I didn’t ever think I would be back,” Knight said. “I’m excited to have another opportunity to come back.” With the start of the season closing in, Savage is looking forward to seeing what Knight can really do at the helm of the Hotshots offense. “When you take the intangibles and the natural […]

The Alliance Announces its First Weekend Game Times

By Kareem Yasin Football season ends in February? We think not. The Alliance of American Football launches its inaugural 10-week season one weekend after the Super Bowl, and game times for the first weekend’s match-ups have just been announced. Who will come out victorious when our 8 teams take the field for the very first time? Which teams will come out on top when they meet for the very first time? Saturday, Feb. 9 Atlanta Legends vs. Orlando Apollos Where: Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL When: 8:00pm ET (5:00pm PT) San Diego Fleet vs. San Antonio Commanders Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX When: 8:00pm ET (7:00pm CT) Sunday, Feb. 10 Memphis Express vs. Birmingham Iron Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL When: 2:00pm ET (1:00pm CT) Salt Lake Stallions vs. Arizona Hotshots Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ When: 4:00pm ET (2:00pm AZ) Who will win those first week games? Tune in or be there to see it live: season tickets available now!

Hotshots nab versatile quarterbacks; pick Trevor Knight first round

By. Kaci Demarest, Arizona Hotshots Content Manager The Arizona Hotshots solidified their quarterback room during Tuesday’s Alliance of American Football “Protect or Pick” Quarterback Draft. The unique draft system asked teams to “protect” one of the quarterbacks allocated to them by region, or “pick” from elsewhere. Rather than protect one of their allocated players, the Hotshots opted to a pick in the first round, taking former Oklahoma and Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight. “I was extremely grateful that Coach Neuheisel, Phil Savage, and Coach Freeze thought so highly of me to take me so early on,” Knight says. Hotshots General Manager Phil Savage and Head Coach Rick Neuheisel said that they were looking for an athletic quarterback who would fit into how they see The Alliance unfolding. “He’s a great fit for us given that he’s able to make all the throws, and he has the athleticism,” Neuheisel says. “He can be what we want him to be.” He added that Knight’s athleticism will be key in the absence of kicking extra points. Knight redshirted his freshman year at Oklahoma before going on to have a career of 3,424 yards and 25 touchdowns at the helm of Sooner football. Most notably, he posted a 348-yard, four touchdown performance at the 2013 Sugar Bowl to defeat Alabama and win MVP Honors. During his final season of eligibility, he opted to transfer to Texas A&M, where he led the Aggies to an 8-5 record. Following his collegiate career, he attended the 2017 NFL Combine where he had the best vertical jump, broad jump, and 40-yard dash time (4.54) out of all quarterbacks. He then signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals but was released prior to the start of the season. Most recently, he played on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad. He said his professional stints in the NFL gave him the opportunity to learn from players like Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer on how to harness and adapt his techniques both on and off the field. “I’m a guy that has a lot of energy and I wear that on my sleeve,” says Knight. “I have a leadership style that’s outgoing.” Arizona also added John Wolford, Quinn McQueary, and Jack Heneghan to their quarterback arsenal. Savage says the team ended up with a squad of players who were already high up on their list. “It went exceptionally well,” he says. “If we had been able to just go shopping for quarterbacks with no draft, we got the guys that we would’ve taken on our own choosing.” The quarterbacks and the rest of the Hotshots roster will come together in the valley for a mini camp in mid-December. The Alliance of American Football kicks off in February 2019.

Results: The Alliance of American Football Inaugural Quarterback Draft

By Dinn Mann (Photo: Benjamin Brinker) The Alliance of American Football’s inaugural Quarterback Draft aired on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday night, showcasing some of the faces hoping to lead the league’s eight teams when the historic first season begins in February. Coaches, GMs, media, fans, friends and family gathered at the HypeX eSports Arena in Las Vegas, and the Alliance’s unique “Protect or Pick” event was part of a breakthrough day of festivities from coast to coast. Riding the wave of uniform and helmet unveilings earlier in the day, the first-of-its-kind draft format had an intriguing twist in the first round. It called for teams to “protect” one of the players allocated to them in advance (based on regional ties) or “pick” a player from another territory. The San Diego Fleet had first dibs, with GM Dave Boller and coach Mike Martz calling the shots. They chose to protect a quarterback with ties to the region, the University of San Diego’s Josh Johnson, as their number one selection. On hand for the historic occasion was Johnson’s cousin, Super Bowl-winning running back Marshawn Lynch. It was a magical moment, Johnson said, to be introduced on live TV by Hall of Famer Kurt Warner as the Alliance’s number one quarterback pick, and then be greeted on stage by Super Bowl hero Hines Ward, as well as Martz, a Vince Lombardi Trophy winner himself. Doesn’t get much better than that! We’ll let Johnson’s tweet speak for itself: SD I’m back!!!!!!! Juiced to go #1 to the @AAFFleet return to familiar stopping grounds and start building to win ASAP. Thanks @TheAAF @DaveB_AAF for letting be apart of this history #SDFleet #protectorpick pic.twitter.com/huTKWDzyhR — Head8cke (@Fam1stFamilyQB) November 28, 2018 Drafted by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round in 2008, Johnson spent time playing for the Jets, Browns, 49ers, Raiders, and Giants. But now, he’s back in San Diego and eager to get reps on an exciting spring stage. The Alliance begins its inaugural season the weekend after the upcoming Super Bowl. Here’s how the rest of the draft played out: ROUND 1: San Diego Fleet (Protect): Josh Johnson, San Diego Atlanta Legends (Protect): Aaron Murray, Georgia Memphis Express (Protect): Troy Cook, University Tennessee at Martin San Antonio Commanders (Protect): Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M Birmingham Iron (Pick): Luis Perez, Texas A&M-Commerce Arizona Hotshots (Pick): Trevor Knight, Texas A&M Orlando Apollos (Pick): Garrett Gilbert, Southern Methodist Salt Lake Stallions (Pick): Josh Woodrum, Liberty ROUND 2: San Diego Fleet: Mike Bercovici, Arizona State Birmingham Iron: Blake Sims, Alabama Arizona Hotshots: John Wolford, Wake Forest Orlando Apollos: Stephen Morris, Miami Atlanta Legends: Matt Simms, Tennessee Salt Lake Stallions: B.J. Daniels, South Florida Memphis Express: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State San Antonio Commanders: Marquise Williams, North Carolina ROUND 3: San Antonio Commanders: Logan Woodside, Toledo Memphis Express: Brandon Silvers, Troy Salt Lake Stallions: Austin Allen, Arkansas Atlanta Legends: Peter Pujals, Holy Cross Orlando Apollos: Austin Appleby, Purdue Arizona Hotshots: Quinn McQueary, Montana Tech Birmingham Iron: Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin San Diego Fleet: Philip Nelson, East Carolina ROUND 4: San Antonio Commanders: Dalton Sturm, Texas-San Antonio Memphis Express: Zach Mettenberger, LSU Salt Lake Stallions: Matt Linehan, Idaho Atlanta Legends: […]

The Alliance of American Football Unveils its Inaugural Uniforms

By Kareem Yasin New league, new look! The Alliance of American Football has unveiled the uniforms for its inaugural season, kicking off on February 9, 2019.  Designed by Starter and produced by G-III Sports, these uniforms feature color combinations and designs specifically chosen for each Alliance team. Each captures the unique spirit of the cities our teams are representing and the fierce dynamism of the league’s players. The uniforms feature stretch characteristics and twill used in the torso and numbers allowing for a professional, modern fit. They also include helmets and shoulder pads designed by Riddell, whose SpeedFlex and Speed platforms have a proven track-record of exceptional performance and on-field protection. Orlando Apollos: Like the Greek god of the sun, the sunshine state’s Apollos uniform is a testament to power and energy, using navy blue and orange to reflect the warm Florida sunshine. Atlanta Legends: The purple, white, and gold sported by the Legends capture the rich heritage of Atlanta, a city where legends are made. Birmingham Iron: The colors of Birmingham Iron are black, dark grey, and light grey, derived from the three elements used to make steel, namely: iron ore, coal, and flux. Memphis Express: Memphis is the birthplace of rock and roll and home to the nation’s biggest cargo airport. What better colors to represent it than the unmistakably American red, white, and blue? San Antonio Commanders: The state of Texas is represented by the color red, with maroon capturing San Antonio and silver referencing the dress military swords carried by officers. Arizona Hotshots: Inspired by the uniforms worn by many hotshot crews, the Arizona Hotshots uniform colors are a fitting orange, golden yellow, and forest green. San Diego Fleet: The anthracite gray of the San Diego Fleet uniforms represents the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet, complemented by the battleship gray of Navy ships and the warm yellows of the California sun. Salt Lake Stallions: You can almost see the silver tips of the Wasatch Mountains amidst the royal blue of Utah’s great salt lake in the Salt Lake Stallions’ uniform, while the team logo resembles a car hood reflecting the city’s fastest and most famous cars. The Alliance of American Football starts February 9, 2019 on CBS.  

LIVE: The Alliance of American Football Quarterback Draft

By Kareem Yasin and Dinn Mann It’s the kind of occasion that simulates a quarterback’s adrenaline rush during a game-winning drive. The Alliance of American Football is conducting its inaugural “Protect or Pick” QB Draft at 8ET/5PT tonight on CBS Sports Network, live from Las Vegas. More than 50 aspiring pro quarterbacks progressed through the scouting process after tryouts, combines and an elite camp to reach this point. A couple handfuls of those players are attending the draft, each hoping to become faces of franchises when the spring league’s historic first season begins the weekend after the upcoming Super Bowl. The site of the QB Draft is Las Vegas’ HyperX Esports Arena, where attendees will wait for their chance to join host Hines Ward, head of player relations for The Alliance, on stage as the unique process unfolds. “The quarterback position is critical to a team’s success, so we knew the importance of making sure each Alliance team had a top-tier quarterback at the helm,” said Alliance co-founder Bill Polian, explaining how league coaches, front office executives and CEO/co-founder Charlie Ebersol collectively agreed on the format. The league’s “Protect or Pick” draft approach begins with a round in which teams have the option of claiming (“protecting”) a player for whom that team had first dibs based on geographic proximity. The alternative is to “pick” a player from another region if, say, a competitor’s territory had a surplus of talent or a prospect more specifically aligned with a coach’s style of play. Regardless of the way a team chooses to go, each of the 8 teams will complete the first round with a QB to call its own. The intrigue only grows from there as rival teams conceivably will pounce on quarterbacks that for whatever reason became available to push for starting jobs in regions beyond their first-dib footprints. The Draft, with live analysis from NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, will last 4 rounds, with teams protecting/picking in the following order: San Diego Fleet Birmingham Iron Arizona Hotshots Orlando Apollos Atlanta Legends Salt Lake Stallions Memphis Express San Antonio Commanders If a team opts to pick instead of protect, it stays in this order after all who’ve protected voice those decisions. The draft order was determined with each team pulling a number from a helmet. The second, third and fourth rounds have no protect element, so it’s purely picking after Round 1. The order goes as listed above in Round 2. It reverses in Round 3, then snakes back in the fourth round. Check back for updates as the drumroll builds throughout today’s festivities, which also include unveilings of uniforms for each of the eight teams: the Arizona Hotshots (coached by Rick Neuheisel), Atlanta Legends (Brad Childress), Birmingham Iron (Tim Lewis), Memphis Express (Mike Singletary), Orlando Apollos (Steve Spurrier), Salt Lake Stallions (Dennis Erickson), San Antonio Express (Mike Riley) and San Diego Fleet (Mike Martz). ROUND 1: Protect or Pick San Diego Fleet, Atlanta Legends, Memphis Express, and San Antonio Commanders elected to protect. Protect: San Diego Fleet protects: Josh Johnson Atlanta Legends protects: Aaron Murray Memphis Express protects: Troy Cook San […]

QB Camp – Road to the Draft

The Alliance QB hopefuls take the field at the San Antonio Alamodome. Photo by Ben Brinker.  QB Camp – Road to the Draft By Kareem Yasin The Alliance of American Football launches in February, the weekend after the Super Bowl, which means hundreds of players — all hungry for their pro football breakthrough — will perform on this inaugural spring stage for 1 of 8 Alliance teams. After more than 1,000 players put their dreams on the line at combines in LA, Houston, and Atlanta in the hopes of making it into The Alliance, more than 50 aspiring quarterbacks took part in an elite-level QB Camp earlier this month in San Antonio. Each QB taking part in the 2-day evaluations at the Alamodome performed dozens of drills that tested speed, agility, concentration and leadership in team settings. This was a competitive platform to showcase their best qualities for coaches and GMs gathered for the purpose of assembling rosters to compete for the Alliance of American Football’s first championship. The Alliance, co-founded by Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol, is conducting its one-of-a-kind “Protect or Pick” QB Draft at 8ET/5PT Tuesday evening in Las Vegas. The unique event will be televised and streamed live by CBS Sports Network. With a lineup of proven, innovative coaches, the stage is set. The Alliance head coaches, as a reminder, are: Brad Childress (Atlanta Legends), Dennis Erickson (Salt Lake Stallions), Tim Lewis (Birmingham Iron), Mike Martz (San Diego Fleet), Rick Neuheisel (Arizona Hotshots), Mike Riley (San Antonio Commanders), Mike Singletary (Memphis Express) and Steve Spurrier (Orlando Apollos). Mini-camps begin in December. Training camps follow in January. The drumroll is on. The quarterbacks are ready for their close-ups. Their teammates will include many familiar faces to fans in The Alliance’s eight initial markets. Players were allocated based on where they made names for themselves at the collegiate levels and in many cases professionally. Tune-in to CBS Sports Network on Tuesday 11/27 at 8PM ET / 5PM PT to watch. Tyler Ferguson of Western Kentucky University: B.J. Daniels, who played 5 seasons with pro NFL teams including the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans: Stephen Morris, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts:   Stephen Garcia of the University of South Carolina:   Tommy Armstrong, Jr. of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: