This week the Vegas Knight Hawks announced on their twitter account, that several of their home games would be shown on the Silver State Sports and Entertainment Network (SSEN) which is a victory for a team and a league that is looked at as a niche alt-football league.
While media coverage for an IFL is key to getting their community to become familiar with their brand of football, it seems that establishing a successful brand in Las Vegas should be a top priority for the IFL. Relative to other IFL markets, Las Vegas is a large market and has a constant flow of tourists that are looking for fun events to experience.
Due to that pre-existing excitement for visiting Las Vegas, it would make sense for the Knight Hawks to create an marketing campaign that builds off of that excitement. That excitement starts with building an elite team that is a championship contender, because very few casual fans are looking for a mediocre team claim as their own.
In 2022, the Knight Hawks were 6-10 and had the 11th rated offense in a offense heavy league. This is a franchise that has a ton of upside, not only for it’s own business but for the IFL, it would be exciting to see that taken as priority in the IFL.
Vegas Knight Hawks
After being a very quiet franchise for the last several months, the Knight Hawks have added players for their 2023 roster. On offense, the Knight Hawks signed wide receiver Malik Honeycutt which played collegiately at Murray State. Defensively, Vegas signed defensive back Ryan McIntyre which is coming to the Knight Hawks after playing college football at Tusculum in Tennessee. For a team that had the 11th ranked offense and 6th ranked defense, and did not make the IFL playoffs, it will be interesting to see how these players can impact the Knight Hawks performance for the 2023 season.
The Massachusetts Pirates continue the process of building one of the most talented rosters in the IFL for the 2023 season. This week the Pirates added several key players to their defense. The defense players signed by the Pirates this week are linebackers Brendon White and Calvin Bundage. White played collegiately for Ohio State from 2017-2019, and finished his college career at Rutgers.
In 2019, White was named the Rose Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player. Bundage played collegiately at Oklahoma State and has spent time on the rosters of the BC Lions of the CFL in 2022, and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL in 2021. The Pirates also announced that defensive back Kevin McGill has been been given the opportunity to play with the Vegas Vipers of the XFL.
Northern Arizona Wranglers
As the NAZ Wranglers continue to have players move onto the XFL and to other IFL teams, the Wranglers continue to add more talent to their roster to replace those players that have moved onto other opportunities. One of the Wranglers secrets to their 2022 success was the ability to run the ball consistently, in 2022 the Wranglers ran for approximately 1,500 yards. To continue that trend the Wranglers signed running back Jawon Hamilton which had a successful college career as a multi-dimensional weapon for Eastern Michigan, James Madison, and University of Central Florida. The Wranglers also added quarterback Garrett Kettle which threw 60 touchdown passes in two seasons while playing at Benedictine College. Defensively, the Wranglers added defensive backs Travion Banks and Svante Davenport. The 5’11” 190-pound Davenport brings a long list of successful professional indoor football experiences from helping the Washington Valor win the 2018 Arena Bowl to playing for the Alabama Hammer of the PIFL.
Quad City Steamwheelers
As the Quad City Steamwheelers look at re-create their 2022 run to the IFL National Championship game, the Steamwheelers have agreed to bring back several playmaker from that run. This week the Steamwheelers re-signed wide receivers Keyvan Rudd, Mike Carrigan, and Londell Lee, and all of these receivers were key playmakers for the 2022 Steamwheelers offense. Quad City has also re-signed offensive lineman Sterling Clark which completes the return of the 2022 offensive line unit, which is critical to offensive success. Defensively, the Pirates re-signed 2022 All-Rookie linebacker Nate Sheets. In addition, Massachusetts has added 6’5″ 265-pound defensive lineman Jared Johnson, and running back James Anderson which had a successful career at Southern University.
The Frisco Fighters continue the process of adding more talent to their roster for the 2023 season. In 2022, the Fighter were one of the best teams in the IFL until they were knocked out of the playoffs by Quad City. The Fighters re-signed 6’2″ 305-pound defensive lineman Zaycoven Henderson which played college football at Texas A&M, and played with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks before playing for the Fighters in 2022. The Fighters also added defensive lineman Jeff Branch, defensive backs Ethan Owens and Troy Lefeged Jr. Frisco has also signed former Sam Houston State linebacker Royce See, which had 80 tackles and 12 tackles for loss his final year at Sam Houston State in 2019.
Green Bay Blizzard
The Green Bay Blizzard have been a busy team in January with regard to building their 2023 roster. This week the Blizzard have added additional offensive and defensive players. Offensively, the Blizzard added dual-threat quarterback Ja’Rome Johnson out of Bowie State, and running back Dondi Pennick Jr. which finished his college career at Colorado State University-Pueblo. On defense, the Blizzard have signed linebacker Kyaire Bynum, defensive lineman Luke Ancrum, defensive back Trevaughn McNeill, and linebacker Nicholas Yearwood. The Blizzard needs include improving the 13th offense in the IFL in 2022, and maintaining the 3rd ranked defense.
The Iowa Barnstormers have recently picked up the pace with regard to adding talent to their 2023 roster. Defensively, the Barnstormers signed 6’1″ 185-pound defensive back Marcus Green which spent a portion of his college career playing at the University of Oklahoma. Green also played one game with the Bismarck Bucks in 2020 before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. Iowa also signed two new players during their 2023 tryouts. Wide receiver Max Elliott and defensive back Joshua Johnson were standout players at this year’s tryouts and have earned their opportunity to play for the Barnstormers in 2023. Elliott is a 5’9″ 185-pound receiver from Newberry College, and Johnson is a 5’9″ 190 -pound defensive back that played collegiately for Wayne State.
Bay Area Panthers
The Bay Area Panthers continue to add experienced IFL veterans and exceptional talent to their 2023 roster. Defensive lineman Kenton Bartlett is one of several players that are moving to the Bay Area from Northern Arizona in pursuit of another championship ring. The Panthers have also added wide receiver Jordan Williams which brings a wealth of experience from the Arena football league, the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, and the Fan Controlled Football League. The theme for the Panthers this offseason has been to become a 2023 incarnation of the NAZ Wranglers. It will be interesting to see if their strategy leads to another jump from a 1-win season to an IFL championship season.
Sioux Falls Storm
The Sioux Falls Storm had a quiet week, but they have added linebacker Jalen James. James played collegiately at Benedictine College, and was named the 2021 Heart of American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. During that 2021 season, James produced 93 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and 1 interception. James will have to adapt to the style of play in the IFL. The Storm are a traditional indoor football power so there is no doubt that they will have a plan for getting the young linebacker integrated into their defensive unit.
Duke City Gladiators
The Duke City Gladiators have been a very active team so far this off-season, and they continue to seek out more talent for their 2023 roster. This week the Gladiators signed wide receiver Ryan Balentine which is the IFL’s all-time receptions leader. Balentine should be a good match for the Gladiators pass heavy offensive philosophy. The Gladiators also signed offensive lineman Kyle Lester out of Gardner-Webb to strengthen their offensive line unit. Duke City also signed defensive back Jeremy Lewis in an effort to improve a defense that ranked 11th in the IFL in 2022.
The Tulsa Oilers are working hard to have a successful first season in the IFL. This week the Oilers added several players to their defensive unit. Tulsa signed a pair of defensive linemen this week when they added 6’2″ 232-pound Gibson Ziah, and 6’2″ 225-pound Ja’Davien Williams this week. Ziah has several years of successful indoor football experience as a productive player for the Omaha Beef of the CIF. Williams joins the Oilers after playing college football at Valdosta State where he produced 66 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 6 quarterback sacks. Tulsa also signed defensive back Stanley Dye which played college football at Grand Valley State and UT-San Antonio, Dye has also played in the Liga de Football Americano in Mexico.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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