A new season of IFL football will bring a new team the Tulsa Oilers. New teams are not an unusual event in the IFL, and many times new teams struggle initially but soon become championship contenders. The recent track record for new IFL teams shows that the first year is a struggle due to new teams needing to develop chemistry, and for players new to the league to learn how to play with the constraints of indoor football.
Like all IFL teams, the Oilers are working to build their 2023 roster and they have collected an impressive mix of new talent and experienced IFL players. Additionally, Tulsa is very close to the Frisco Fighters territory, which has proven to be a hotbed of talented players. It will be interesting to see how long it will take the Oilers to get organized and get to the point of competing well against the best teams in the East division and competing for an IFL championship. Let’s take a look at the personnel moves made in the IFL to start the new year.
The Oilers continue to add new talent to their inaugural roster for the 2023 season. On offense, the Oilers have added 6’5″ 225 pound wide receiver Jamon Langford who played collegiately for 3 seasons at the University of Pikeville. While at Pikeville, Langford produced 42 catches for 619 yards and 6 touchdowns. Defensively, Tulsa signed 6’7″ 250 pound defensive lineman Caleb Wells, and former Texas Tech defensive back Kevin Moore. Wells played for the Sioux Falls Storm of the IFL and the Gillette Mustangs of the CIF in 2022, and from 2020 to 2021 he played for the Columbus Lions of the NAL.
Northern Arizona Wranglers
The Wranglers continue to work to improve their 2023 roster after a successful championship 2022 season. Offensively, the Wranglers have added 5’9″ 180-pound wide receiver Justin Manyweather. Manyweather played two seasons at Eastern New Mexico University and produced 64 catches for 998 yards and 13 touchdowns, rushed for 340 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns, and had two special teams touchdowns.
On defense, NAZ signed 6’1″ 195-pound defensive back Daniel Wright who played college football at the University of Alabama. Wright was invited to rookie mini-camps for the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens in 2022, and in 4 seasons at Alabama, he produced 115 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups, and two interceptions. The Wranglers also had another player drafted to the XFL with defensive lineman Ulric Jones being drafted by the Houston Roughnecks.
The Frisco Fighters look for an opportunity to regain their status as a championship team in the IFL during the 2023 season. This week the Fighters have added talent to both their defense and their offense. Defensively, the Fighters have re-signed 6’1″ 190-pound defensive back Michael Lovett and 6’5″ 270-pound defensive lineman Levi Watson.
Lovett produced 22 tackles and an interception for the Fighters in 2022. Watson comes to Frisco after playing college football at Eastern Illinois, and in 2018 he produced 55 tackles, 3 sacks, and 10 tackles for loss. On offense, Frisco has added 6’4″ 305-pound offensive lineman Saige Young which has played in the FCF and played college football at Vanderbilt.
Sioux Falls Storm
The Sioux Falls Storm spent this week focused on maintaining their offense. In the IFL good teams need to have the ability to consistently score and having offensive playmakers is critical. The Storm has re-signed a 6’3″ 215-pound wide receiver for his 3rd IFL season.
In 2022, he produced 43 catches and 11 touchdowns. Sioux Falls also re-signed 6’1″ 185-pound wide receiver Donnie Corley, and he had 23 catches for 398 yards and 10 touchdowns. With these two signings, the Storm returned players that scored a total of 21 touchdowns in 2022.
Tucson Sugar Skulls
The Sugar Skulls re-signed 5’11” 215 pound defensive back Rashie Hodge Jr. Hodge is one of the Sugar Skull’s most popular players due to his local connections. He played college football at the University of Arizona, and he played high school football at Mountain Pointe high school in the Phoenix area.
Hodge emerged as a key playmaker on the Sugar Skulls’ defense in 2022. The Sugar Skulls are looking to take the next step as a franchise after qualifying for the 2022 IFL playoffs.
The Arizona Rattlers are another traditional IFL power that came up short of their championship aspirations in 2022. The Rattlers have focused their efforts this week on retaining key players from their offense. The Rattlers re-signed offensive lineman Brandon Smith and wide receiver Josh Lanier.
This will be Smith’s 2nd season with the Rattlers bringing experience from the Spokane Shock, the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, and the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. 5’11” 180 pound receiver Lanier played in the 1 game for the Rattlers in 2022 and scored a touchdown for Arizona vs. the Vegas Knighthawks.
Bay Area Panthers
The Bay Area Panthers continue to add veterans to their roster as they work towards becoming the next 1-win team to play for an IFL championship in the next season. Defensively, the Panthers added defensive back Jr Brody to their defense. Brody made the IFL’s All-Rookie team in 2022 as a member of the Iowa Barnstormers after producing 6 interceptions which were 2nd in the IFL.
Bay Area has also added defensive lineman Kenton Bartlett, Bartlett spent 2021 with the Iowa Barnstormers and helped the NAZ Wranglers to an IFL national championship in 2022.
Quad City Steamwheelers
After being another breakout team in the IFL in 2022, the Steamwheelers a facing the challenge of putting themselves back into position to be a championship contender in 2023. Quad City re-signed wide receiver Keyvan Rudd, defensive lineman Naquez Pringle, and defensive/offensive lineman Raekwon Jefferson. Rudd was 4th in the IFL in 2022 with 14.4 yards/catch and was 6th in receiving yards with 748 yards. Rudd and Pringle were key components of Steamwheeler’s efforts to control the line of scrimmage in 2022, and bringing both linemen back for 2023 is an off-season victory.
Green Bay Blizzard
The Green Bay Blizzard continues to work to improve their defense. This week Green Bay added key players to help improve their defense for the 2023 season. The Blizzard re-signed veteran defensive lineman Deldrick Canty for this 5th season as a member of the Blizzard. In 2022, Canty produced 28 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. He was also named the Blizzard’s lineman of the year. Green Bay also signed defensive lineman Malik Haynes who played college football at Southern Illinois and played in 43 games for the Salukis. Also, the Blizzard added defensive back Raekwon Chatman who had 59 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups, 1 recovered fumble, and 1 tackle for loss at the University of West Georgia.
The Iowa Barnstormers have been one of the more quiet teams in the IFL during the off-season. But after qualifying for the 2022 playoffs it will be interesting to see if the Barnstormer’s more conservative approach to roster building works out during the 2023 season. This week the Barnstormers did add 5’10” 200-pound defensive back, EJ Johnson. This will be Johnson’s 4th season in the IFL after spending three seasons with the San Diego Strikeforce. During the 2022 season, Johnson produced 33 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble while playing in 13 games.
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