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 that of the NFL, quite a few NFL veterans found their way into the league. The Salt Lake Stallions are no exception, as they have several familiar faces scattered across their roster.
Alliance of American Football Teams: The Salt Lake Stallions
The Salt Lake Stallions expected to enter the season with former third-round pick Garrett Grayson at quarterback. The New Orleans Saints selected Grayson with the 75th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, so Grayson had a lot of untapped potential. However, Grayson had another chance in the NFL and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The 27-year old quarterback signed a future/reserve contract with the Denver Broncos and probably won’t play in the AAF this season. With Grayson gone, Salt Lake turned their offense over to quarterback B.J. Daniels.
Daniels is a fantastic athlete with professional experience at both quarterback and wide receiver. The former seventh-round pick spent portions of four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and Atlanta Falcons. Daniels initially entered the league as a quarterback but was converted to wide receiver entering the 2015 season. He recorded two receptions for 18 yards before getting released and signing with the Texans. Daniels made a brief cameo at quarterback, throwing two passes for seven yards with Houston.
Daniels isn’t the most natural pocket passer, but the right coaching staff could certainly take advantage of his plus athleticism. Nobody knows what to expect out of Daniels, but he has the tools to be an exciting player.
The Head Coach
A first-year team needs an experienced coach, and that’s exactly why Dennis Erickson is leading the Salt Lake Stallions. Erickson brings a whopping 47 years of head coaching experience to the table, including 30 consecutive years of head coaching. Erickson was one of the best collegiate coaches of his time, winning Coach of the Year honors six times throughout his career. As of this posting, 71-year old Erickson has a career 179-96-1 record in the college ranks.
Erickson initially retired from coaching at the conclusion of the 2016 season. However, the opportunity to coach this team was too good to pass up. This isn’t the first time Erickson came out of retirement, as he pulled a similar stunt back in 2016. When asked for a reason for his return, Erickson said that “[b]eing around football players and coaches has been my life…” Erickson brings years of experience and a genuine love of football to the sidelines, and his presence should help the upstart league get on its’ feet.
Other Notable Players
The biggest notable player on the roster is running back Matt Asiata. Asiata is a five-year NFL veteran with over 1,250 rushing yards to his name. The former undrafted free agent spent the 2011 season out of football but managed to stick on the Vikings roster in the 2012 season. Serving as Adrian Peterson’s primary backup, Asiata saw an increased workload in 2014 when Peterson was suspended for the majority of the season. In Peterson’s absence, Asiata ran for 570 yards and nine touchdowns on 164 carries. Additionally, he showed some promise out of the backfield, hauling in 44 receptions for 312 yards and a touchdown.
Asiata never blew up the box score, but it takes talent to last five years in the National Football League. Even though it was almost five years ago, Asiata showed some skill when Peterson was on the shelf. On paper, Asiata should be the lead back and has a chance to be one of the better running backs in the new league.
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