Plenty Of Notre Dame Flavor In Alliance Of American Football
Are you ready for some … more football?
Less than a week after Super Bowl LIII capped the NFL season, the new eight-team Alliance of American Football made its maiden voyage on Saturday night (Feb. 9), with more games to be played today during a 10-week regular season.
The league that possesses strong Notre Dame presence — including 10 former players — is the bridge between college football and a chance to find a roster spot in the NFL after missing an earlier opportunity. Its formation was masterminded by 2005 Notre Dame graduate Charlie Ebersol and Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian.
Ebersol is the son of Dick Ebersol, the former president of NBC Sports who began the union with Notre Dame in 1991 to exclusively telecast Fighting Irish home games (and Shamrock Series). Polian is the father of current Notre Dame recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator Brian Polian, who also had a 2005-09 stint with the Irish. Another executive in the league is former Notre Dame and NFL standout defensive end Justin Tuck, who graduated with the younger Ebersol.
The quicker-paced AAF includes a 30-second play clock and does not have extra points or kickoffs, among its rule tweaks. According to the elder Polian, the league provides players three-year, non-guaranteed contracts worth $250,000 each, in addition to a strong health insurance plan and an education stipend to players who complete a year in the league.
Players are allowed to leave the league to go to the NFL. It is an appealing package to compete against the XFL, which will begin 2020 and reportedly pay players an average of $75,000 per season.
Somewhat similar to the original spring football USFL back in the mid-1980s, rosters will be based some on a regionality flavor with players from nearby universities (i.e. Birmingham having some Alabama and Auburn players to possibly help the gate). However, there are no true northern or “cold weather” franchises in the league that, alphabetically, has: Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City (the coldest), San Antonio and San Diego.
Former NFL head coaches Steve Spurrier (Orlando) — far more known for his 1996 national title at the University of Florida and recent excellence at South Carolina — NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary (Memphis) and Brad Childress (Atlanta) all lead their own teams.
Meanwhile, the defensive coordinator for Birmingham is Rick Minter, who coordinated the Irish defense in 1992-93 and 2005-06.
Alphabetically, here are the 10 former Notre Dame players:
WR Amir Carlisle (2013-15) — Birmingham Iron
The USC transfer has played in the CFL but not been on a team since last June. In his three-year Irish career he caught 61 passes for 690 yards and four touchdowns, and carried 60 times for 288 yards (4.8 yards per carry).
LS Scott Daly (2013-16) — San Antonio Commanders
The four-year starter hopes to latch on in the NFL someday the way former Irish long-snapper J.J. Jansen (All-Pro in 2014) has since 2008.
TE Joseph Fauria (2008) — Arizona Hotshots
He enrolled the same year at Notre Dame as current Minnesota Vikings star Kyle Rudolph. He redshirted and then was named MVP in the 672-team Bookstore Basketball tournament while leading his team to the title that spring (the unit included freshman teammates Dayne Crist and Jonas Gray). Later that spring he left the University because of a disagreement over a suspension.
The California native then starred at UCLA and played two seasons with the Detroit Lions, where he caught eight touchdowns.
RB Tarean Folston (2013-16) — Atlanta Legends
After a strong freshman year and a team high 889 yards rushing as a sophomore in 2014, Folston’s 1,359 yards rushing (with nine touchdowns) were among the top 5 ever at Notre Dame after a player’s first two seasons.
However, a torn ACL on his third carry as a junior sidelined him, and he totaled only 334 yards rushing (4.3 per carry) as a senior on a 4-8 team. He opted not to return for a fifth season in 2017 but did not make an NFL roster.
LB Greer Martini (2014-17) — Salt Lake Stallions
A team captain in 2017, Martini recorded 190 career tackles (75 as a senior), 14.5 for loss with five sacks, plus an interception. As a rookie free agent this past season he was with the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad before getting released Oct. 4.
OL John Montelus (2013-16) — San Diego Fleet
Shoulder issues never allowed the highly recruited lineman to make a dent in the Irish lineup, and he used his graduate year of eligibility in 2017 at Virginia.
LB Nyles Morgan (2014-17) — Arizona Hotshots
Classmate and fellow captain with Martini as a senior, Morgan likewise was waived as a rookie free agent by Chicago and Tennessee. He recorded 243 tackles at Notre Dame, 88 and 91 his last two years as a starter, with 16.5 for loss and six sacks.
S Max Redfield (2013-15) — Birmingham Iron
Former five-star recruit had a roller-coaster career, recording 143 tackles and two interceptions his first three seasons before getting dismissed a month prior to his senior year for possessing a loaded handgun during a traffic stop.
He reportedly did graduate in 2018 and played his final season at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and most recently in the CFL. He is reunited in Birmingham with Carlisle.
CB Cody Riggs (2014) — Orlando Apollos
Graduate transfer from Florida recorded 36 tackles, three passes defensed and an interception in his one season at Notre Dame. Undrafted, he played for the Tennessee Titans in 2017 and then later the Tampa Bay practice squad before getting cut.
P Ben Turk (2009-12)
Four-year starter punted 200 times for a 39.5 average, and also served as a holder on kicks. One of the strongest players on the team, he has not yet made an NFL roster.