07/13/2012 3:23 PM
With the season winding down and playoffs just around the corner, it’s that time to discuss a few possible award winners. The actual awards will be announced during ArenaBowl week, but based on their performances throughout the entire season, here are a few who could be top contenders.
RUSSELL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Arizona Rattlers QB Nick Davila
Under Davila’s leadership, the Rattlers have had quite the season with a 12-4 record. He is currently 337-for-502 passing for 4,824 yards and 101 touchdowns. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment this season was becoming the first quarterback in AFL history to record three consecutive 100-touchdown seasons. With his accuracy, it is very possible he could lead the Rattlers straight to the ArenaBowl for the second year in a row and take home the Russell Offensive Player of the Year award.
Iowa Barnstormers WR Jesse Schmidt
As one of the most talented receivers in the game this season, Jesse Schmidt has earned himself a spot on the 25 Greatest Receivers in the AFL History. He tied the single-game franchise record for receptions with 15 in a game against the Rush earlier this year and broke the previous record with 18 in Week 13.
Philadelphia Soul FB Derrick Ross
The Soul’s fullback is rushing his way to possibly becoming the next Russell Offensive Player of the Year. Along the way, he has set single-game franchise records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. His five rushing touchdowns were not only a franchise record, but also the most any rusher has scored in the AFL this season. Ross needs just two more rushing scores for sole possession of No. 8 on the AFL’s list of career rushing touchdown leaders.
San Jose SaberCats QB Mark Grieb
Now in his 13th AFL season, Grieb has been selected for the 18th Greatest Player and as the No. 3 Greatest Quarterback in AFL History. He eclipsed the 100-touchdown mark for the first time in his career this season, breaking his own single-season franchise record in the process, and now has 105 passing scores on the year. With these astounding accomplishments, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that Grieb could be a top contender for the award.
Utah Blaze QB Tommy Grady
Anyone could say that Tommy Grady, a six-foot-seven signal caller, has had quite the season. His shining moment this year came in Week 16, when he secured his status as the League’s most prolific passer by setting a new AFL record with his 118th touchdown pass of the season. He finished the night throwing for 306 yards and eight touchdowns on 25-of-28 passing for a completion percentage of 89.3 – also a Blaze record. He currently leads the League with 125 passing touchdowns on the year.
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
New Orleans VooDoo LB Alvin Ray Jackson
Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson has had quite the season. Currently, he is one of the leading VooDoo defensemen with 62 total tackles, 52 solo tackles, and he’s leading the team with a franchise-record of 13 interceptions.
Philadelphia Soul DB Kent Richardson
Richardson has always been a leader of the Soul defense, but this year he has had a breakout season. With eyes like a hawk, he leads the League in interceptions and recently broke the single-season franchise interceptions record of 13, now tallying 14 on the season.
San Antonio Talons DB Fred Shaw
Talons Fred Shaw is one of the toughest defensive players in the Arena Football League, consistently contributing to the teams scorching 10-game winning streak. Shaw, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, leads the Talons in total tackles with 104.5 and eight interceptions on the season. In addition to being a candidate under this category, Shaw is also a top contender for the RevHoney Defensive Back of the Year award.
San Jose SaberCats DL Joe Sykes
Joe Sykes became the AFL’s single-season sack leader with 16.0, after recording half a sack in the team’s Week 18 win. In 16 appearances this season, he has recorded 32.5 total tackles, forced five fumbles, recovered two more, had an interception that he returned for a touchdown and returned a blocked field goal for a score. Sykes is also a top contender for the Game Tape Exchange Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Spokane Shock DB Terrance Sanders
Despite being on Injured Reserve for the last four weeks, Terrance Sanders is still a top player in the game. The star defensive back leads the team this season in interceptions with seven and kick return yards with 1,461. In addition, he leads the League in kick return average with 23.6. His outstanding performances earlier in the season earned him J. Lewis Small Ironman of the Week, National Guard MVP and Riddell Defensive Player of the Week.
J. LEWIS SMALL IRONMAN OF THE YEAR
Jacksonville Sharks WR/KR Terrance Smith
The talented player who was a key component of Jacksonville’s defense during the AFL championship season in 2011 has been transitioning from defensive back to wide receiver this season. His conversion has been very successful, as he leads the team in receptions with 99 catches for 1,158 yards and 29 touchdowns. He has also recorded 81 kick returns for 1,666 yards and three touchdowns and his streak of consecutive games with at least 145 all-purpose yards was snapped at four.
Kansas City Command WR/KR Jackie Chambers
After recording 149 all-purpose yards in Week 13 and 199 in Week 15, Jackie Chambers had earned the JLS Ironman of the Week twice in just three weeks. His speed and quickness have made him a Command leader in all-purpose yards with 1,023, despite playing in just 10 games this season. He has recorded at least 100 kickoff return yards in each of the last five games and is just 80 yards shy of Jerel Myers’ single-season franchise record of 983, set in 2008.
Milwaukee Mustangs WR/LB Marcus Everett
Milwaukee’s Marcus Everett still brings a traditional Ironman feel to the AFL. This season at Jack linebacker, Everett has totaled 14.5 tackles, three defensive touchdowns and leads the team with seven interceptions. On the offensive side of the ball, he has 19 catches for 213 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Pittsburgh Power WR/KR PJ Berry
After winning J. Lewis Small Ironman of the Year honors last season, PJ Berry has still got it. Earlier this season, and for three weeks in a row, he was named the Ironman of the Week by the AFL. Despite the Power’s 4-12 record, the Virginia State graduate has definitely been an impact player. He leads the League in all-purpose yards with a whopping 3,003 and has recorded at least 200 all-purpose yards in four consecutive games. With seven kickoff returns in Week 18, Berry broke his own single-season AFL record of 101, set in 2011.
NET10 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Chicago Rush WR Jared Perry
Coming into the 2012 season as a rookie, Jared Perry is definitely a standout on the field. In fact, his 1,668 receiving yards on the year is the second-highest rookie receiving total in AFL history. These statistics have placed him right behind teammate Reggie Gray in receptions, scoring, and all-purpose yards.
Tampa Bay Storm WR Prechae Rodriguez
An impact player from day one, Rodriguez leads the team in receptions with 102 catches for 1,349 yards and 30 touchdowns. At this pace, Rodriguez is on the right track to breaking the receiving touchdowns single-season franchise record of 37, set in 2010.
Milwaukee Mustangs WR Jared Jenkins
Quarterback Gino Guidugli went to Jared, Jared Jenkins that is. The Milwaukee rookie seems to be the go-to-guy this season for the team’s quarterback. He leads the Mustangs in receptions with 99 catches for 1,351 yards and 30 touchdowns. Week 18 was the first game in his AFL career where Jenkins did not record a touchdown reception, snapping a streak of 15 consecutive games with a touchdown grab.
New Orleans VooDoo Jeremy Kellem
Kellem leads New Orleans in total tackles with 87 and in pass breakups with 19 on the season. In addition, he has notched 2.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery, and his stellar play is a key reason why the VooDoo possess the League’s best turnover margin.
Orlando Predators QB Chris Leak
Despite their 3-13 record, Orlando rookie Chris Leak has kept his head up and has continued to fight hard, which came in handy in Week 18. Leak was awarded the Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week after completing a career-high 85.7 percent of his passes, finishing 30-for-35 with 316 yards and tying together another career-high with eight touchdowns. It was his second consecutive game with 30 completions and a triple-digit passer rating.