Hotshots’ wide receivers hope to grab the spotlight
By Jose M. Romero
It wasn’t surprising to see Arizona Hotshots general manager Phil Savage walking the sideline at Arizona Cardinals training camp last summer.
Savage was evaluating players, mindful that many who didn’t make the NFL 53-man roster (or practice squad) could be prime candidates for the Hotshots’ inaugural roster.
Back then, the Cardinals were looking for at least three receivers for the regular-season roster. Savage saw three he liked, and they were eventually signed.
The Hotshots have hit training camp in San Antonio to began preparations for Season 1 of The Alliance. Former Cardinals Rashad Ross and Corey Willis join nine other receivers vying to be the guys to whom drafted quarterback Trevor Knight — himself a former Cardinals camp participant — will be throwing this season.
Knight and the other Hotshots QBs will be working with a group that varies in size. Without the extra point in games, big targets and smaller slot receiver types are needed as weapons in the red zone on two-point conversions.
“We have put together a group of wide receivers with lots of variety. We have some with size, others with speed, some who can play on the perimeter, still others who should excel in the slot,” Savage said. “In putting our offense together, we think that the red zone and the two-point conversion tries will be critical to our success, so our emphasis has been on mismatch candidates due to size and separation quickness in a confined area.”
Here’s a look at the 11 receivers on Arizona’s roster:
Anthony Amos: A former walk-on at Middle Tennessee and former Arena League player, Amos looks to revive his career and is known for being a strong route runner.
Marquis Bundy: A big target at 6-5, 220 pounds, Bundy started with the Cardinals in 2016 and was active for one game with the New York Giants last season. He’s a Phoenix area native who played in college at New Mexico. Bundy showed on the first day of Hotshots training camp that he could be a mismatch for defenses with shorter cornerbacks.
Deion Holliman: Holliman’s 5-9 height masks his jumping ability. Holliman did a standing jump on top of boxes that measured 65 inches, and the video exists to prove it. Now a graduate of Missouri State, his athleticism is intriguing.
Josh Huff: A former Philadelphia Eagle and Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Huff has extensive NFL experience. But an off-field issue in part derailed his opportunity with the New Orleans Saints in 2018. He’s on the Hotshots’ training camp roster but didn’t take the field Saturday because of illness.
Devin Lucien: Lucien will be familiar to many at Sun Devil Stadium should he be on the final roster. The former Arizona State player (for one season) has been on the practice squads of five different NFL teams since being drafted in the seventh round by the New England Patriots in 2016.
Richard Mullaney: After three seasons at Oregon State and one at Alabama, Mullaney got training camp opportunities in 2016 and 2017 with the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. He scored 10 career college TDs.
Rashad Ross: The senior member of this position group at 28, Ross is also the one with the most NFL experience. After two years at Arizona State, he bounced around to four different teams without any regular season action until earning the kick returner job for Washington in 2015. He spent all season there and scored two special teams touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. Most recently he was in Cardinals training camp but was an early cut.
Prince Shonola: Impressed in combine-style workouts earlier this year and has overcome a good deal of adversity, including being homeless for a time as a kid, to get his opportunity.
Jordan Villamin: The former Oregon State star was among the first 100 players signed by the AAF. Another big, physical target, he went undrafted in 2017 but racked up more than 1,800 receiving yards in college.
Kenneth Walker III: After catching passes from current Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen and a couple of brief stints on the UCLA track team, Walker brings speed and athleticism to the Hotshots.
Corey Willis: The undrafted Willis got his chance in Cardinals camp this summer but was released. Still, 2,394 yards and 23 touchdowns over his career at Central Michigan had to impress Savage.