By Matt Popchock
Thirty-five prospects accepted invitations to the Pittsburgh Power’s training camp, but only 24 will make the trip to Orlando to help the team kick off its sophomore season in the Arena Football League, and only 21 will suit up against the Predators Fri., Mar. 9 in the AFL Hall of Fame Game.
The first week of the two-week camp is almost over, and even as we speak, head coach Chris Siegfried is tinkering with his possible opening night roster as his preseason crew prepares for Saturday afternoon’s scrimmage against the division rival Cleveland Gladiators.
Here’s a recap of the moves made by the Power over the past seven days:
*Although team owner Matt Shaner did indicate during open tryouts Oct. 1 that defensive back LaRico Stevenson and veteran nose guard Neil Purvis (6’2″, 275 lbs.) would return in 2012, it was not until camp opened last Friday that Stevenson and Purvis formally accepted their assignments. Stevenson joined the Power via the then-Tulsa Talons early in their inaugural campaign, while Purvis who battled a leg injury much of the year, made the starting lineup out of camp after seeing limited time with the Kansas City Brigade (now called the Kansas City Command) and the Jacksonville Sharks the previous three years.
*Former University of Georgia defensive end Montez Robinson (6’4″, 235 lbs.) was assigned Monday. In 2007 Robinson was rated the top high school player in Indiana by Rivals.com, and played for the Bulldogs for two years before legal issues derailed his football career. He is an AFL rookie who is also listed as a linebacker.
*Fullback/linebacker Kyle Wilson was assigned Wednesday. The 25-year-old got into one AFL game last season, on defense, for the Gladiators. He played his college ball at Eastern New Mexico, which competes in the FCS (NCAA Division II), and also spent time with the Amarillo Dusters of the Indoor Football League.
*Offensive lineman Abdul Kuyateh (6’3″, 290 lbs.) was assigned Thursday. Kuyateh, also 25, came from humble beginnings at Reedley Junior College in California, but got noticed by the Power after a couple solid seasons at Louisville. His natural position is on the interior, but because there are only eight players to a side in arena football and only three down linemen, naturally, he would get experience as a tackle.
*Defensive lineman Callahan Bright was placed on recallable reassignment that same day. In AFL vernacular, Bright was waived by the Power, who have 48 hours (in this case, through Saturday) to reclaim him before he is up for grabs. His name might sound familiar to our friends in the east; he was a Class AAA All-PIAA honoree at District 1 Harriton and enjoyed a stint at Florida State abbreviated by off-field problems before spending the 2011 AFL season in Philadelphia and New Orleans.
*Former Pitt defensive back Ricky Gary accepted an assignment, as did wide receivers Larry Beavers and Jacques Robinson, while another receiver, former Marshall standout Darius Passmore, was placed on the physically unable to perform list. Beavers spent limited time with the AFL’s Iowa Barnstormers (Kurt Warner’s old team) last season, recording 165 yards and one touchdown as a rookie, and averaging over 16 yards per kick return. Robinson just wrapped up his college career with Clarion and was once scouted by the Philadelphia Eagles. Gary was a regular on Pitt’s 2009 squad that won the Meineke Car Care Bowl and narrowly missed the school’s first outright Big East title.
Furthermore, to make room for some of the other aforementioned players, the Power made these adjustments prior to their first practice:
*Two-way lineman Jada Brown, who starred at Memphis 2006-09, has been placed on the exempt list, which means he has joined or is about to join another football league.
*Former Ole Miss wide receiver Carlos Suggs has been placed on the “refused to report” list. In reality, this often means extenuating circumstances (e.g.: death in the family, travel conflicts, etc.) have prevented the player in question from reporting to his team on time. The reason for Suggs’ absence has not been confirmed.
*Siegfried placed former South Florida defensive lineman Aaron Harris on the PUP list, and, in a little bit of a surprise move, he placed former Penn State standout Mike Lucian there as well. Lucian saw time at both offensive tackle and fullback in 2011, and he was expected to challenge for a starting job this season.
Last year fisticuffs actually broke out when the Power scrimmaged their East Division rivals, so we look forward to another spirited workout between the Gladiators and them Saturday afternoon. Check back later this weekend for more insight into 2012 Pittsburgh Power training camp.
The Power will play their first home game of the season Fri., Mar. 23, when the Philadelphia Soul come to town for an 8:00 P.M. kickoff. The 2012 regular season will feature nine games at CONSOL Energy Center, as well as expanded television coverage:
Click here for more information, including a full TV schedule.
In addition, beginning this year, every Power game can be seen live on your computer or mobile device on Ustream. Click here for more information.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)