Updated article on McCullough

Back with a final verison, at this point, on Spokane trading Kevin McCullough to Oklahoma City. I called McCullough about an hour ago to get his reaction on going to OKC and included it below. Read on for the article.

Also, Spokane moved up one spot, to No. 2, in the coaches poll. Milwaukee is the new No. 1. The poll can be found here..Spokane, by the way, in No. 1 in the writers' and fans' polls.

By Jim Meehan; (208) 765-7131

The Spokane Shock have cut ties with ‘The Chainsaw.’

Kevin McCullough, one of the team’s most popular players and a 2½-year starter at linebacker, was traded to Oklahoma City for claim order position Wednesday, the trade deadline for the Arena Football League this season. Spokane assumes Oklahoma City’s No. 6 spot in claim order on free agents.

The trade comes just days after McCullough’s first interception of the season, which he returned for a touchdown in Spokane’s win over former No. 1 Jacksonville.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve had to do and I know I’m going to get nailed for doing it, but I just have to do what’s best for the team,” Keefe said. “Kevin’s a great person, but from a coaching standpoint winning is the goal.”

McCullough, nicknamed ‘The Chainsaw’, had 15 interceptions in 2008-09 when the Shock went 37-3 in arenafootball2. He said he was “floored and just completely blindsided” upon hearing the news Tuesday from Keefe. “I felt honestly a little betrayed by an organization I’ve done a lot for, not just on the field but off.”

Keefe said the move was necessary for roster versatility and improving production at the ‘Jack’ linebacker position. In 2008, a rule change allowed the Jack to play sideline to sideline, no deeper than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, instead of being confined to a box the width of the tackles. With that change and the move up to the AFL this season, Keefe said the position requires more speed and coverage skills.

“McCullough has done nothing wrong, he’s done everything we’ve asked of him, but we just need a guy that goes faster left and right and changes directions quicker,” Keefe said.

Teams are limited to suiting up 20 players, which leaves Spokane vulnerable if there’s an injury at defensive back, Keefe said. Currently, a wide receiver would have to play DB, which takes away from the Shock’s league-leading offense and impacts the defense, he said.

Against Bossier-Shreveport earlier this season, the Shock lost two defensive backs in the fourth quarter. Facing a secondary that included two wide receivers, Bossier-Shreveport scored three times in seven minutes, cutting an 18-point deficit to 8.

Keefe anticipates Antwan Marsh, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder who played safety in college, to start at Jack against Orlando on June 12. Marsh signed with Spokane on May 19. Another option is Ruschard Dodd-Masters, who signed last week. If one of those players were to move to defensive back, receiver Huey Whittaker would fill in at Jack.

“What we’d like to do is have a Jack that has the capabilities of playing defensive back in case a DB goes down,” Keefe said. He pointed out that former Shock defensive back Sergio Gilliam was recently traded from Arizona to Oklahoma City and had two interceptions playing Jack linebacker in his first game.

McCullough hoped to be traded to Arizona, where he would be reunited with his former University of Cincinnati and Shock teammate Nick Davila, but Keefe declined to send McCullough to a division rival that Spokane will play on July 2.

“My only issue wasn’t with that team or organization, it’s just that I wanted to have more of a hand in where I went, which is what I was told was going to happen but it’s not what happened,” McCullough said. “After being up here so long, we have so much stuff up here, it’s not just like getting on a plane. I have to come up with some plans.”

McCullough talked with Oklahoma City’s coaching staff and they indicated they want him to start at Jack versus Tampa Bay on Saturday. McCullough said he wasn’t sure if he’d report this week or next week.

McCullough had 31 tackles, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and one pass break-up in eight games. He had 132.5 tackles, 15 interceptions and 13 pass break-ups over the last two seasons. He received AFL honors for the catch of the week for his one-handed interception against Jacksonville.

“It makes it hard, with a lot of friends that are like family up here,” he said. “I appreciate everything the fans have done and all the support they’ve shown.”


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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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