ELF teams are working hard to evaluate talent and build their rosters. Teams in the ELF can have 50 active players on their roster and a 10-player practice squad. In addition, each team can have up to 10 imported players but a maximum of four from the US, Mexico, Canada, or Japan.
These variables create a dynamic environment, and the teams that navigate these three aspects of roster building will give themselves a chance to compete for an ELF championship in 2023.
Let’s look at the progress that the units of the ELF have made this week concerning building their rosters.
Barcelona named former defensive coordinator Gabriel “Black” Sanchez as their head coach, and he takes over for 2022 ELF Coach of the Year Andrew Weidinger; Weidinger has moved on to lead the Rhein Fire. Offensively, the Dragons have acquired wide receiver Melvin Palin from France, American quarterback Connor Miller who led the Leipzig Kings in 2022, American wide receiver Austin Duke, and re-signed running back Antonio Monton and wide receiver Jordi Torrededia.
Palin comes to Barcelona after playing collegiately in Canada at Bishop’s University, playing for Dusseldorf in the German Football League, and playing for the French national team in 2021. Austin Duke continues a successful football career after producing 3.437 yards and 25 touchdowns while playing at UNC-Charlotte in the US; he also has experience with the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and was considered the best punt returner while playing in the XFL.
On defense, Barcelona has signed American defensive end Darius Slade and American linebacker Luke Glenna. Slade played college football in the US for Ohio State, Arizona State, and South Florida. Glenna spent his college career at Saint Thomas of Minnesota; at Saint Thomas, he produced 68 tackles, six pass breakups, and four interceptions. Both players should be able to step right in and become leaders on the Dragon’s defense in 2023.
This week the Saints acquired former Dragons quarterback Zach Edwards and his top wide receiver Kyle Sweet; Sweet was the ELF Offensive Player of the Year in 2022. Edwards and Sweet helped lead the Dragons to have one of the top offenses in the ELF and make the 2022 playoffs. The Paris Saint’s next challenge will surround these proven players with complementary players.
The Rhein Fire acquired Barcelona Dragons’ former head coach and 2022 ELF Coach of the Year, Andrew Weidinger. The Fire also obtained defensive lineman Alejandro Fernandez from the Dragons. In 2022, Fernandez produced 15.5 sacks, 21 tackles of loss, forced seven fumbles, and had a pick-six.
Alejandro Fernandez will also be participating in the Athletes in Action and All 22 Pro Day Training Camp; commonly, players who have performed at this training camp event have had an opportunity to play in North American leagues like the Canadian Football League (CFL). In 2022, the 6’1″ 231- pound Fernandez produced 15.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and a pick-six for the Dragons. Fernandez was a difference-maker for the Dragons and should pick up where he left off for the Rhein Fire.
The Galaxy has agreed to bring back linebackers Sebastian Silva Gomez, Sebastian Gauthier, Wael Nasri, and Daniel Josiah, who many views as the best non-American linebacking unit in the ELF. Frankfurt has also invested in the defensive backfield by acquiring Sebastian Brand from the GFL, cornerback Cedric Schmitt, Falk Reuter, re-signing Marcus Schlabitz, and 1st-team All-Star Karim Ben El Ghali. A solid defense is critical to making a run at an ELF championship.
This week the Lions acquired Czech championship quarterback Shazzon Mumphrey, American wide receiver Victor Wharton III, and the dynamic Aymeric Nicault. Wharton III comes to the Lions after playing at the University of California; while playing for the Golden Bears, he produced 145 catches, around 1,660 yards, and seven touchdowns. He also contributed on special teams as a punt returner. Nicault played for the Rhein Fire in 2021 but opted out for the 2022 ELF season.
After opting out, he played for the Helsinki Roosters in the Maple League and produced 34 catches for 668 yards and five touchdowns. Prague has also added beef to their offensive line with the addition of Jan Rause, which has been a part of four Czech championship teams. Defensively, the Lions said Jan Krs! Honza has played for the Prague Black Panthers, Vysocina Gladiators, Prague Mustangs, and the Czech national team.
The Vikings have re-signed ELF All-Stat linebacker Thomas Schnurrer and added defensive lineman Jamarcus Henderson. In 2022, Schnurrer produced 104 tackles, seven for loss, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups during the 2022 season. The Vikings had the second-ranked defense in the ELF in 2022 and intend to maintain a high-quality defense for the 2023 season.
This week, the Munich Ravens have hired Vince Okruch as their defensive coordinator; Okruch brings 34 years of coaching experience. The Ravens have also signed former Vienna Vikings pass rusher Dominic Siegel, which played in 12 games for the Vikings. Siegel spent the 2021 season in the German Football League producing 35 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, nine sacks, recovering three fumbles, and being named to the GFL All-Star team.
On offense, the Seamen have added running back Cristiano Mancini, tight end Leonardo Franchi, and offensive lineman Marco Colombo. Defensively, Milano has added defensive backs, Saad Ali and Bismarck Yeboah. However, with the Seaman being in the same conference as Barcelona and Tirol, they will need to be able to find ways to score to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot in their first year.
The Thunder have acquired 20-year-old offensive lineman Felix Lepper and re-signed offensive lineman Marcel Camenz. Lepper played for the Leipzig Kings in 2022, so while he is very young, he brings prior ELF experience.
The Surge has added American linebacker Khaylan Kearse-Thomas and has re-signed ELF All-Star defender Nick Wenzelburger. The NFL’s Tennessee Titans acquired Kearse-Thomas in 2020 as an undrafted free agent, and he has spent time playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. The Surge is losing offensive center Thomas Ghebrezghiher, who has decided to retire.
On offense, the Centurions have extended quarterback Alex Frisch. Frisch helped the Centurions produced the 8th-ranked offense in the ELF in 2022, and they scored over 300 points throughout the season. While the offense needs to improve, Frisch has proven that he can help them compete consistently. Defensively, the Centurions added 23-year-old Dajon Owens, who played college football at Colorado State and Stony Brook in the US.
Hamburg Sea Devils
Hamburg has added offensive lineman Lucas Lavin who played college football at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga and has been a CFL Global Draft prospect. Defensively, the Sea Devils added a pair of German defenders in linebacker Robert Lachman and Malcolm Abimbola.
To make another run a championship, the Raiders have re-signed tight end Markus Schaberl. Schaberl participated in the 2020 NFL International Combine and has previously spent four seasons with the Graz Giants. The 26-year-old Schaberl will aim to be a consistent weapon for the Raider’s offense.
This week the Enthroners acquired Marton Meszaros. Meszaros spent 2022 playing for the Budapest Cowbells in the Hungarian Football League. In 2022 Meszaros produced 18 catches for 332 yards and four touchdowns while playing in 4 games; he was named the Cowbell’s offensive MVP.
The Helvetic Guards wrap up this week of ELF acquisitions and another new team that is trying to find its way in the 2023 ELF season. This week the Guards acquired running back Dimitri Gfeller, who played for the Stuttgart Surge in 2022. It will be interesting as we get closer to the start of the season to see how the Guards and the other new teams work to build their first roster to compete in the ELF. Regardless outcome, this 2023 season will be a learning experience for Helvetic and the other new ELF teams.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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