By Matt PopchockPittsburgh Weather: Sunny Skies Following Overnight Storms
With still plenty of time remaining till the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League begin their second training camp, their preseason roster is practically complete.
Multiple sources are reporting veteran AFL receiver Randy Hymes and former Pitt receiver Oderick Turner, as well as former IUP linebacker/defensive lineman Tyre Young, have joined the team.
In addition, former Aliquippa/Pitt defensive back Josh Lay has reportedly agreed to return.
This brings the Power’s unofficial preseason roster to 34 deep. AFL teams are allowed to bring as many as 35 players to camp.
Hymes gives them something that had gone missing in the off-season: NFL experience. The 32-year-old had been signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and spent time with the Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Minnesota Vikings over a five-year span before coming to the AFL.
He enters his fourth year in the league with as many different teams, having amassed over 1,000 career yards and 27 touchdown grabs as a member of the Cleveland Gladiators, Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings (currently known as the New Orleans VooDoo), and Spokane Shock in subsequent seasons.
Meanwhile, the Power have made a significant change at fullback, as head coach Chris Siegfried once hinted, with the addition of Young (6’0″, 300 lbs.).
Die-hard Pitt fans–or trivia buffs, as it were–might remember Young for scoring a defensive touchdown for the Panthers in the 2001 Tangerine Bowl as a freshman before disciplinary issues forced him to spend the rest of his college career with the Crimson Hawks.
Dismissing veteran AFL fullback and Duquesne alumnus Josh Rue might not have been a popular move with some fans last season, but there is every possibility Young will win Power fans over.
He already has experience in both the AFL and the defunct AF2 developmental team, in which he played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers. In 2010, his only Arena League season, Young led the Milwaukee Mustangs (then called the Milwaukee Iron) with 173 yards rushing and 20 TD’s on 65 attempts.
But the most compelling stat of all is that Young did not allow a single sack through 16 games.
Turner, after recording over 1,600 yards and hauling in 15 touchdowns with Pitt, also gained some arena football experience; the New Jersey native suited up for the Trenton Steel of the Southern Indoor Football League this past season. He’ll be reunited with former college teammates Lay, who enters his second AFL campaign, Bill Stull, who was claimed by the Power late last season, and another Wannstedt-era DB, Ricky Gary, who has been unofficially assigned.
The addition of Young, a proven player at a position where the Power needed one, should be an upgrade. We’ll see how the rest of these guys pan out as the 2012 season draws nearer, though the team’s decision to keep Lay under contract should not be overlooked.
Lay was an impact player in the Power’s secondary last season. An early-season concussion wiped out part of his rookie year, but in 13 games he still contributed 44 solo tackles, seven pass deflections, and one fumble recovery, and shared the team lead with four interceptions, including one pick-six.
It should also be noted the team, as presently constructed, is deep just about everywhere except fullback and linebacker. Looking at the team’s unofficial roster reveals the Power have just two natural linebackers on the roster, with Young listed as an ironman. At fullback Mike Lucian, who played the position once or twice last season, may be listed behind Young on future depth charts.
Furthermore, despite some of the changes that have been made, the Power’s unofficial preseason roster still has several players of local interest, just like last season. Here’s what it looks like:
QB Bill Stull
QB Kyle Rowley
WR Mike Washington
WR Lonnell Dewalt
WR/KR P.J. Berry
WR Carlos Suggs
WR Darius Passmore
WR Perry Baker
WR Randy HymesREAD MORE: Secretary Of State Antony Blinken To Make Pittsburgh Visit
WR Oderick Turner
OL Jason Jones
OL Mike Lucian
OL Mike Byrne
OL Joe Blanks
OL Justin Wells
OL Corey Konycki
OL Dan Jones
DL Terrance Taylor
DL Dominie Pittman
DL Neil Purvis
DL Jada Brown
DL Aaron Harris
DL Callahan Bright
FB/LB Tyre Young
LB Anthony DeGrate
LB Justin Parrish
DB Bryan Williams
DB Tyrrell Herbert
DB Chris LeFlore
DB Ahmaad Smith
DB Knowledge Timmons
DB Ricky Gary
DB Josh Lay
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(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)