Six former Illinois FCS players will continue their football career as newly formed The Alliance of American Football prepares for its February kickoff.
Offensive linemen Jacob Judd (Western Illinois) and Cameron Lee (Illinois State) will play for the Arizona Hotshots. Running back Marshaun Coprich (Illinois State) will report to the Birmingham Iron. Former Eastern Illinois teammates Tray Mitchell (defensive back) and Mack Weaver (defensive end) are on the Memphis Express roster. Ex-Southern Illinois lineback Deondre Barnett signed with the Orlando Apollos.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity," Judd told Prairie State Pigskin. "My goal is to get back in the NFL so whatever that pertains to, I'll probably end up doing."
Judd, a 6-foot-3, 291-pound center, previously spent time in Minnesota Vikings training camp.
Judd said that he will report to Arizona mini-camp Dec. 13. The Hotshots are coached by Rick Neuheisel; their offensive coordinator is Hugh Freeze. An offensive line coach has not yet been announced.
The Hotshots will play at Sun Devil Stadium, the home field of Arizona State University where Judd's former college coach Charlie Fisher is on the ASU staff.
"I have spoken with him," Fisher said. "Certainly will connect when he arrives in Phoenix. Awesome young man. Leader, winner, smart and tough. Excited for his opportunity."
After being on opposing sides of the WIU-ISU rivalry, Judd is also looking forward to playing alongside Lee.
"I've talked to him before. Good dude! Excited to get started," Judd said.
Lee, listed at 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds, spent time on the Chicago Bears practice squad last year before being activated for two games late in the season.
According to numerous published reports, the standard Alliance player contract offers players a base salary of $250,000 over three years with a comprehensive bonus system which will award financial compensation based on a variety of metrics such as performance, win, and fan engagement. Additionally, players who make final rosters will be offered post-secondary education assistance and health and wellness benefits.
The AAF was founded by TV/film producer Charlie Eberson and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian, the former Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis general manager. The league begins its 10-game regular season Feb. 9, 2019, and concludes with its championship contest in late April.
The AAF has franchises in Phoenix, Salt Lake, San Diego, San Antonio, Memphis, Orlando, Atlanta and Birmingham. It also has a TV deal with CBS, which will carry opening-night action and the championship game on its main network and weekly contests on CBS Sports Network.
Six AAF head coaches--Mike Martz (San Diego), Steve Spurrier (Orlando), Brad Childress (Atlanta), Mike Riley (San Antonio), Dennis Erickson (Salt Lake) and Mike Singletary (Memphis) — have also been NFL head coaches.
AAF games won’t feature kickoffs as teams will begin on their own 25-yard line. And there’ll be no extra points, just two-point conversions.