Indoor Football League free agency is upon us. This of course means your Frisco Fighters have begun to make moves to solidify their roster in pursuit of a Championship in 2023. Who is coming back, who was released, and who are the new faces signed by the Fighters?
First Let’s Look at the Players Who Resigned
Quarterback Tj Edwards has resigned for the 2023 season. While there is still a chance he gets picked up by a USFL or XFL team, this prevents Edwards from lining up across from Frisco next season. Edwards was one of the better dual threat quarterbacks in the league last season. With the retirement of Blake Sims, Edwards would return the unquestionably the starter.
RB Stanley Williams- The 5’9 185 lb scat back is a perfect fit for the IFL game. Electric in space, Williams has made a name for himself in the IFL after falling out of the NFL and CFL in years past. The Kentucky alum has had stints with the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Toronto Argonauts before joining the Fighters.
LB Caleb Bailey- Bailey returns to the Fighters for the 2023 season. During the 2022 season Bailey proved to be an asset for the Fighters defense. He produced 7.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery he returned for 28 yards, 8 QB hits, and 1 PBU, all in just nine games. Give him a full season and I expect to see his name on awards by 2024.
DB Michael LoVett- Standing 6’1 190 lbs he brings above average size to the secondary. Despite playing in just six games last season he was able to collect 20 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception. He looks to be a very solid building block for the Fighters defense in 2023.
OL Noah Johnson- I’ll let Coach Back take this one: “Noah was a big part of our success on offense last year, He came in last season as an underdog and earned everything every step of the way! He’s a silent assassin, he doesn’t say much but will put his weight on you and put you where he wants you. His character and work ethic is exactly what any team needs.”
Players Making the Leap to the Next Level
OG JR Hensley- Hensley has signed with the CFL. Landing with the BC Lions, Hensley looks to earn an a roster spot long term by finishing out the season with BC. Frisco puts another player in the outdoor game.
DL Charles Williams- Williams has signed with the USFL’s Michigan Panthers. Defensive coordinator Dan Carrel gets a new toy to play with on defense. Williams played with Frisco last season collecting 52 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 6 pbu’s, and 1 forced fumble. The Fighters have already signed his replacement.
QB Blake Sims- Having operated in a two quarterback system last season, the writing was on the wall for Sims as to his role. Edwards was simply too good last year to consider putting him on the bench like that for another season. Faced with being a back-up Blake Sims opted to retire instead. What an interesting end to an interesting career.
DB Trey Wafford- Wafford has opted to retire after the 2022 season. He was a starter for the Fighters collecting 87 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, 2 ints, 8 pubs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery. Wafford was a leader for this defense, with both him and Williams leaving there is a void on defense currently.
Fresh Faces in Frisco
QB Alphonso Howard- Howard is a 6’1 205 lb quarterback who spent time in the Fan Controlled Football League in season 2.0. He was able to throw to Jordus Smith and Jacoby Herring another name that should ring bells for IFL fans. Howard spent time with Eastern Kentucky and actually ran the ball nearly as much as he threw the ball. Attempting 53 passes and running the ball 52 times. He totaled 514 yards of offense 4 tds and 4 ints.
RB Darius Clark- Clark is a 6’2 210 lb running back who has been added to the Fighters roster. He has had stops with the Carolina Panthers, and BC Lions after attending a hub camp. Clark is a bigger back than typically found in the IFL. Having attended college at Newberry he was overlooked coming out of school. Ironically at times Clark was used as a wildcat QB in his junior and senior season. However he amassed just 1,167 total yards in four years.
WR Lionell McConnell- McConnell is a 6’0 200 lb wideout from Liberty and Colorado Mesa University. He went undrafted in 2022, landing in the IFL for the 2023 season. During college, he racked up 48 receptions, 480 yards and 1 touchdown, adding 11 carries for 133 yards, and 2 kick returns for 42 yards. He will be an interesting player to watch for the Fighters in 2023.
WR Akillian Butler- This 5’11 187 lbs attended Boise State. He graduated as a redshirt senior in 2019. A native of Texas, Butler joins his hometown IFL team for the 2023 season. Butler is a very versatile player collecting 60 receptions for 565 yards and 4 touchdowns, 14 carries for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, 28 kick/punt returns for 233 yards during his five year career that saw him play in 49 games.
WR DeShon Williams- This 6’2 220 lb behemoth of a wideout has been used as a tight end in the outdoor game. However his size is such that allows him to play either role if a team comes calling. Williams spent time in the AWFC with the Tri City Rush, and the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. He is regarded as “a difference maker” by opposing coaches, and an inspiration for his Tri City Rush teammates. However he isn’t the only member of the Rush to sign with Frisco.
WR Bj Bunn – 6’1 205 lb wideout, began his indoor football career in 2019 with the Philadelphia Soul the last year of the late great AFL, helping lead his team to the big game. He also signed with Your Call Football in 2019. His second season came under Billy Back with the NAL’s Carolina Cobras in 2021. Now he returns to a coach he spent 2021 with in Frisco.
DT Rashad Brandon- Brandon is a two year contributor at Mizzou. He began his college career at the JUCO level. Having left the school in 2019, he got his start in the NAL in 2022 with the Albany Empire who had him playing both ways. This could prove to be very valuable to the Fighters in terms of depth.
DE Braylon Broughton – This is an interesting move. Broughton attended Arizona and TCU way back in 2011. He has continued to play football a decade later. His 6’6 240 lb frame is likely a reason why. He has had stints with multiple NFL teams, so this is a highly talented pass rusher. This defense is quickly adding talent.
LB Jaquez Jackson- Jackson will bring his 6’1 230 lb frame to Frisco for 2023. Jackson played for the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets in college. He graduated in 2021, following a two season stretch that saw him rack up 183 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 6 PBU’s and 2 interceptions. The phrase float like a butterfly stings like a bee definitely applies to this former Yellowjacket.
DB CeDarius Rookard- Rookard is likely my favorite player on this roster. At 6’1 210 lbs Rookard played jack linebacker for the undefeated Tri City Rush in 2022. After going undrafted in 2020, Rookard simple sat out of football until the AWFC came calling. After one amazing season in which he looked better than ever he was offered a deal with the Salina Liberty and later the Frisco Fighters stole him away realizing Rook, is a Swiss Army knife on defense.
QB Jonathan Bane
RB LaDarius Galloway
WR/QB/DB Anthony Cruz
WR Jordan Jolly
OL James Atoe
LB Willie Hibbler
More to Come?
With over 25 moves on the books so far this offseason the 15-3 Fighters have seemingly turned over every stone looking for more talent. Billy Back has one goal in mind no matter where he coaches, and that’s championship victories. The reputation that Back has is that he brings success with him where ever he goes. The Fighters Fan Base saw it first hand in season one of the Back regime, now he looks to bring home the trophy in 2023.
Also check out our most recent player signing announcement. Former IFL Backup QB Justin Arth gets a chance to be the QB1 for a new team and league!