The National Football League is approaching its’ climax, as the 2018 season is all but over. However, there will still be football to watch after the Super Bowl. For those who need a year-round football fix, the Alliance of American Football will kick off its’ inaugural season on Saturday, February 9th. While the competition won’t match the level of the NFL, quite a few NFL veterans found their way into the league. While the Arizona Hotshots don’t have the biggest names in the AAF, they still have several intriguing players and should remain competitive throughout the 2019 season.
The Arizona Hotshots: Alliance of American Football Teams
The Arizona Hotshots will start the season with 25-year old Trevor Knight under center. Knight is one of the younger starters in the AAF but is one of the best athletes in the entire league. Trevor Knight is a dual-threat quarterback, throwing for 5,856 yards and running for 1,467 more during his collegiate tenure. Knight spent the first three years of his career with the Oklahoma Sooners. After losing the starting job to Baker Mayfield, Knight transferred to A&M for his final season. He went out on a high note, throwing for 2,432 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions while running for 614 yards and 10 touchdowns.
While he never appeared in an NFL game, Knight does have some professional experience under his belt. After going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, Knight signed on with the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, the rookie wasn’t able to beat out Blaine Gabbert for the backup position and spent the majority of the season on the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad.
However, this doesn’t mean that he didn’t show promise. Knight put his freak athleticism on display at the NFL Combine, finish first among quarterbacks at the vertical jump, broad jump, and the 40-yard dash. At age 25, Knight is still in his athletic prime and should display his elite prowess on a weekly basis.
Leading the Arizona Hotshots in their debut season is former collegiate head coach Rick Neuheisel. Neuheisel, the 1984 Rose Bowl MVP, has spent the better part of the past decade working as an analyst on CBS Sports and the Pac-12 Network. However, the AAF brought his out of the television life and thrust him back onto the sidelines.
Throughout his career, Neuheisel has served as the head coach for UCLA, Washington, and Colorado. During his time at the helm, Neuheisel compiled an 87-59 head coaching record. Neuheisel’s best season came back in 2000 when he led Washington to a Pac-10 championship.
Neuheisel also has experience in the National Football League. While he never earned a head coaching position in the NFL, he was the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator during the 2007 season. Additionally, Neuheisel served as the Ravens quarterbacks coach from 2005 to 2006.
Other Notable Players
While nobody has seen him in a while, former Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria has a decent chance to make a name for himself. Fauria initially joined the Detroit Lions with low expectations as an undrafted free agent. However, Fauria had an impressive 2013 thanks to his red zone ability. While Fauria finished the season with just 18 receptions, he still managed to haul in seven touchdowns. He couldn’t repeat this feat in 2014, but he has a history of red zone dominance.
Fauria spent three years playing college football at UCLA but only saw serious playing time during his junior and senior seasons. During that timeframe, Fauria recorded 85 touchdowns for 1,118 yards. These numbers, while impressive on their own, are bolstered by the fact that he also caught 18 touchdowns. Look for the Hotshots to look to Fauria whenever they’re in the red zone.
Nobody knows who will start at running back for the Arizona Hotshots, but there’s a decent chance Jhurrell Pressley earns the nod. Pressley, an undrafted free agent in the 2016 NFL Draft, never recorded a professional carry. Pressley spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Giants but never managed to see the field. While he never impressed in the NFL, he certainly managed to put on a show back in his college days.
Pressley spent four years with the New Mexico Lobos, playing in 50 of a possible 52 games. During that time, Pressley recorded 2,725 yards and 35 touchdowns on 294 carries, good for a staggering 6.9 career yards-per-carry. Granted, this didn’t come against elite college talent by any means, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Pressley can become the unquestioned starter if he can find his old collegiate form.