Shock piece together balanced roster
Andy Olson’s phone is day-to-day.
Olson, the Spokane Shock’s second-year head coach, and general manager Ryan Rigmaiden have been in recruiting mode nonstop for nearly a month. The result is Spokane has signed 24 players, 13 from last year’s team. Spokane will bring 35 players to training camp in February.
“A lot of time on the computer, a lot of time on the phone,” Olson said. “These guys like to Facebook, so I spent a lot of time Facebooking and texting. I think I overheated my phone the other day because I didn’t put it down.”
The master plan is to build primarily with players from last year’s roster, add a few AFL veterans and stockpile rookie talent. Olson expects three to five more 2012 Shock players to return. He also expects Shock rookies and second-year players from last year to be much improved in 2013.
“We didn’t want to have a brand new team,” said Olson, whose team finished 10-8 in his first season. “We want consistency, continuity and chemistry, and we felt it’s important to get back as many guys as we could that will contribute.
“We want maybe two to four veterans from across the league that can play leadership roles and help the offense and defense.”
Among the returnees is quarterback Erik Meyer, who won the starting job last year but suffered a concussion and other season-ending injuries on a late hit in the first game. Meyer missed several games because of injuries in 2011 after being acquired in a midseason trade with Utah.
Spokane hopes to add a veteran quarterback before camp. Proven AFL quarterbacks are scarce, with Olson estimating a handful in the elite category and another handful trying to reach that level. Majority owner Brady Nelson said Kyle Rowley, who has had three different stints with the Shock, isn’t currently in the team’s plans.
“Last year I think Erik’s problem was he was training not to get hurt, his mentality was not to get hurt,” Olson said. “You want to train to be great. His mentality has completely changed. He truly wants to be the best and he wants to prove he’s an elite quarterback in this league.”
Defensive coordinator Travis Crusenberry and defensive backs coach Stanley Franks will return on Olson’s staff. Clay Harrell will attempt to return to the AFL as a player after one season as line coach. Crusenberry will serve as line coach.
Four players were added to the roster, the team announced Thursday: rookie defensive back Josh Pleasant, out of Kent State; wide receiver Duane Brooks, making his AFL debut after two seasons in the Indoor Football League; offensive lineman Will Falakiseni, in the IFL last season; and quarterback Arvell Nelson, who was recently in the Professional Indoor Football League.