After the San Jose SaberCats’ impressive 13-5 2013 season ended with an upsetting quarterfinal playoff exit, the front office looked to add even more firepower on both sides of the ball.
Heading into 2014, that’s exactly what they did.
With less than a week left before their season-opening visit to AFL newcomers the Portland Thunder Monday, the SaberCats have released their 24-man opening week roster.
On the list of returning players are some serious acquisitions sure to help the Sabercats return for another postseason run.
The SaberCats defense ranked second overall and third in scoring against at 48.7 ppg in 2013, so the team’s offseason plans were focused around adding a threat an offense ranked sixth overall with 57.4 ppg.
Signing WR Reggie Gray — recipient of the AFL’s 2013 J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Year award — seems like a good way to start.
With the addition of Gray — who led the league in all-purpose yards last season with 140 receptions for 1,978 yards and 46 touchdowns with the Chicago Rush — the SaberCats’ fourth-ranked passing attack should see improvement in yards per game and point totals.
Lining up alongside Gray will be returning WR Jason Willis, who was QB Russ Michna’s favorite target last season, hauling in 123 passes for 1,606 yards and 35 touchdowns.
This new pairing of receivers should make for an exciting year through the air.
Too much of a good thing could be the Sabercats’ philosophy on defense as well, as their already impressive secondary — led by Riddell Defensive Player of the Year DB Clevan Thomas — gained another talented DB with the acquisition of Simeon Castille.
After making a splash in his rookie season with the Orlando Predators, leading the team with 108.5 tackle and seven picks, Castille’s production dropped off last year with just 38.5 tackles and two picks. Look for Castille to have a bounce back year.
Joining Castille in the secondary will be fellow newcomer David Hyland, who had a solid 2013 season with the Utah Blaze, collecting 85.5 tackles and seven interceptions in 17 starts.
The SaberCats kick off the 2014 season in Portland on Monday at 7 p.m in a nationally-televised game on CBS Sports Network.
SaberCats 2014 Opening Roster
|Returning to SaberCats from 2013|
|1||Reggie Gray||WR||5-10||185||Western Illinois||3|
|3||David Hyland||DB||6-0||200||Morehead St.||3|
|8||Clevan Thomas||DB||5-10||195||Florida State||8|
|10||Nathan Stanley||QB||6-5||215||Southeastern Louis.||0|
|12||Russ Michna||QB||6-2||220||Western Illinois||6|
|13||Rod Harper||WR||6-1||205||Murray State||1|
|17||Huey Whittaker||WR/LB||6-5||225||South Florida||7|
|18||Dominique Curry||WR||6-3||230||California Univ. (PA)||0|
|34||JJ Payne||FB||5-11||270||Western Illinois||4|
|36||Luis Vasquez||DL||6-3||265||Arizona State||4|
|54||Paul Griffin||DL||6-1||290||Florida State||5|
|64||Rich Ranglin||OL||6-3||315||Central Conn.||4|
|99||Jason Stewart||DL||6-0||315||Fresno State||5|
|Marc Schiechl||DL||6-3||270||Colorado Mines||2|