The Alliance Of American Football kicks off its inaugural season on Saturday, February 9th. In this blog, I’m giving you the one guy you should keep an eye on for each team when watching the games this weekend.
Trevor Knight – QB
In the AAF QB Draft, the Arizona Hotshots took a chance on a local former NFL longshot. Trevor Knight went undrafted in the 2017 NFL draft, and signed a 3 year, $1.66 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Knight failed to win the backup job, and was subsequently waived. He was later signed to the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad, only to end his season early undergoing back surgery. During his Senior year at Texas A&M, Knight threw for 2,432 yards, 19 TDs, and 7 INTs with a passer rating of 123.2.
Although he didn’t succeed in Arizona the first time, Knight returns with a chip on his shoulder. Look for him to take some big shots down the field as he scrambles out of the pocket.
Stephen Hill – WR
The WR who scored the highest broad jump in the 2012 NFL Combine is making a return to the spotlight. 28 year-old Stephen Hill struggled in his first two seasons in the league, despite having a decent highlight reel at Georgia Tech. However, the grizzled vet will face a new challenge with the Atlanta Legends where he will be tasked with leading a very young WR core.
Head Coach Brad Childress resigned a month before kickoff, after implementing an air raid playbook to his offense. There hasn’t been much time to redesign an entire offensive scheme, so make sure to watch the 6’4, 210 pound receiver as he will be targeted in many different ways.
Trent Richardson – RB
He hasn’t been around football in over a year, but Trent Richardson is ready for a comeback. The 3rd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft is probably the most intriguing player in the entire Association. With a troubled past, including a third-degree domestic violence charge in 2017, Richardson is hoping to look towards the future while replicating his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns where he averaged nearly 4 yards per carry and racked up 11 TDs.
Once regarded as a “sure-thing player”, and now a total NFL bust, Richardson seeks to silence his doubters. Keep an eye on him as he can be lethal once he gets in open space.
Christian Hackenberg – QB
Last week, Christian Hackenberg was named as the starting QB for the first time in his professional career. Selected in the 2nd round of the AAF QB Draft, Hackenberg outperformed 1st round selection Troy Cook to win the job. The 23 year-old former New York Jet believes he has fixed the issue with his throwing motion that kept him off the field during his time in the NFL.
Christian Hackenberg to Pennlive.com
“I don’t think I’ve ever thrown the football this good. I wish I had this five years ago. But the good news is I’m 23, not sure that I could do it and I did it. Now it’s just about going out and playing.”
This gunslinger has plenty of potential and can only get better at such a young age. Look for him to connect deep with his veteran WR Chris Givens.
Frankie Hammond Jr. – WR
Two National Champions are teaming up on this Orlando squad. WR Frankie Hammond Jr. will be the centerpiece of an offense run by former Florida Gators Head Coach Steve Spurrier. Unfortunately, one of Hammond’s key attributes is his talent on special teams. The AAF has removed kickoffs from the game entirely, so his capabilities as a return specialist no longer add to his skillset.
Hammond has game breaking speed and will be targeted early and often. Look for him to beat his man off the line and make multiple people miss on his way into the endzone.
Tenny Palepoi – DE
After being drafted in 2014 by the Chargers and starting in all 16 regular season games, Tenny Palepoi would go on to have an injury-riddled professional career. To make matters worse, he was suspended in 2016 for PEDs. With a rocky road behind him, Palepoi is now the star of the Salt Lake Stallions front seven.
Opposing offensive lines will have a tough time keeping Palepoi from getting in the backfield. Expect a few tackles for loss in his AAF debut.
Kenneth Farrow – RB
Former Houston Cougar and San Diego Charger, Kenneth Farrow, is a human truck stick. His junior year highlight tape is nothing but good ole’ fashioned bulldozing. Not only that, but he packs some quickness in his step as well. Farrow gets another shot at showcasing his running ability with the Commanders, after flaming out as an undrafted free agent in the NFL.
Kenneth Farrow on the RB position
“You really have to know the front of the defense just because it gives you an idea of the way a play is going to unfold. As a running back, things change all the time. It’s an instinctual position so you can’t rely on just the play call. You have to have a pre-snap idea of where everyone could be instead of where they are now.”
When the Commanders are at the goal line, watch Farrow. He will get the ball, and he will lower his shoulder for the touchdown.
Josh Johnson – QB
Josh Johnson played for an NFL team for the first time in 4 years in 2018. The veteran QB nearly kept the Washington Redskins’ playoff hopes alive in week 16, but fell apart mostly because of their defensive performance. The San Diego Fleet will rely heavily on Johnson’s leadership abilities to help guide their young roster.
Look for Johnson to use his legs more often than not, allowing him to keep the defense honest when he actually does decide to pass.