With the NFL season coming to a close on Sunday with Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, the brand new spring Alliance of American Football league is ready to launch the following week. And the AAF’s franchise in our own state, the Orlando Apollos, have finalized their roster to begin the year.
It’s no surprise that many of the names are players from Florida schools, or at least the South, as the AAF broke team roster pools up by territories.
First, the team is coached by Gators legendary former Heisman Trophy winning a national championship coach Steve Spurrier. So it’s no surprise if there are recognizable quarterbacks to run his offense.
Former Gator QB Austin Appleby who transferred for one final season to Gainesville after playing at Purdue is on the roster of the Apollos. Another one of the other players competing for the QB job is Garrett Gilbert, who played both at Texas and SMU, while a third quarterback is Kevin Anderson, who threw for a ton of yards at Fordham and is originally from Boca Raton.
Interesting in the receiving corps, that former Buccaneers wideout Donteea Dye is on the roster, as a veteran and players like Ronnell Hall of UCF and Marvin Bracy-Williams of Florida State will also be trying to catch some passes.
Back to Spurrier, “The Head Ball Coach,” who will be 74 in April, was lured back to coaching by going back to the beginnings of him being on a sideline with headphones on and calling “some ball plays.” Spurrier was the highly successful coach of the United States Football League’s Tampa Bay Bandits in the mid-1980’s.
He later went on to coach at Duke, leading them to the 1989 ACC title before returning to his alma matter, where he had won the Heisman Trophy, and became the most flamboyant (and annoying to opponents) personality in southern coaching. Spurrier won SEC championship six times and eventually the 1996 National Championship while in Gainesville. He remains the Gators winningest coach with 122 victories.
He later tried coaching in the NFL with the Redskins, but failed miserably and quit after two seasons. Spurrier took a year off, and then, coached at South Carolina for 11 years (2005-15) winning another 86 games before retiring, again.
There are also some other recognizable names with state ties, like Quinterrius Eatmon of USF is a massive 6-6 offensive tackle. So too, is former Florida free safety Will Hill and Miami defensive back LaDarius Gunter is also on the initial roster.
The Apollo’s will begin their regular-season play on their 10 games schedule on Saturday Night February 9th against the Atlanta Legends at Spectrum Stadium on UCF campus.
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