AAFL Team Florida prepares for draft
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 11:41 p.m.
The All American Football League is getting close to becoming a reality.
Where: Hilton University of Florida Conference Center (1714 S.W. 34th St.)
When: Today at noon (doors open at 11:30 a.m. for members of the general public interested in attending. Food, T-shirts and other souvenirs will be given out)
TV: Cox channel 67 in Gainesville; Cox 68 in Ocala
Online: The entire draft will be streamed at: http://event.playonsports.tv/aafl/?eventId=3477.
Schedule: The first hour will be an overview of the league, and each team's protected players will be announced. Draft begins at 1 p.m.
Now the league just has to pick the players.
Today at noon, all six teams representing the expansion league will gather in their affiliated states and look to bolster their rosters in the first-ever AAFL Draft.
Team Florida, led by head coach and former University of Florida quarterback Shane Matthews, will be with his coaching staff and protected players at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center, where they'll draft 10 AAFL hopefuls to bring their roster count to 50 before the start of training camp in early March.
"You're always looking to improve your team," former Gator wide receiver and current Team Florida player/coach Travis McGriff said. "There's some decent quality out there, and you can find some really good players if you draft well."
At the end of the day, all teams will end up with 50 players when counting their draftees and protected guys. Protected players are those athletes who graduated from a college within the designated state — or states — of the team and were hand-picked by the organization.
Those who graduated from a college in a state not represented in the AAFL — like former Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch — or who were not picked in any of the tryouts are eligible for the draft.
With 40 players protected, Team Florida — which has the No. 4 pick — will draft players in the first and last five rounds of the draft. Rounds six through 45 will be filled by their protected players.
Priority No. 1 for Team Florida will be to draft former Gator quarterback and Marshall graduate Eric Kresser. Kresser was in Team Florida's tryout at Citizens Field in December and has had Matthews' attention since he took over the team. Matthews thinks he can give ex-Gator Chris Leak competition at quarterback because he's more familiar with the Fun 'n' Gun offense he ran under coach Steve Spurrier in the early 1990s.
After that, Team Florida will shift its focus to running back, where former Gator Elijah Williams — who played defensive back in the NFL — is the only protected tailback on the team.
Some running back possibilities include Dee Brown (Syracuse), Norval McKenzie (Vanderbilt), Quincy Wilson (West Virginia), Fred Russell (Iowa) and Omar Easy (Penn State).
The draftees will join a crop of players from Florida colleges — like former Florida State wideout Peter Warrick — as well as several prominent ex-Gators, like Leak, Chris Doering, Steve Rissler and Fred Weary.
"We have some young players, we have some veteran guys. It's very similar to an NFL roster, and that's what I wanted," Matthews said. "We have an assortment of different players from different universities in the state, and I think that will really interest fans from all over Florida."
And even though Team Florida is still months away from its season opener at Michigan on April 19, Matthews said his team already has an advantage.
"We're going to be unveiling our uniforms (today)," he said about the orange-and-blue jerseys. "You can bet they're the nicest-looking ones in our league."
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