Jacksonville Sharks Press Release
JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks announced Tuesday that Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson and offensive lineman Cornelius Lewis will return to the team, as each player has been assigned to the Jacksonville roster on a two-year contract. In addition, defensive lineman Anthony Degrate has been assigned to the team’s roster on a two-year contract, while defensive back Chris Pickett has been assigned to the team’s roster on a one-year rookie contract. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The 35-year-old Jackson (6-2, 200, Albany State) earned First Team All-Arena honors following a spectacular 2015 season, his first with Jacksonville. Starting all 18 games at Jack, Jackson finished second on the team with 71.0 total tackles and seven interceptions. Jackson also led all Sharks with four fumble recoveries, broke up four passes and recorded two tackles for loss. Jackson also recorded a team-high total of three non-offensive touchdowns, as he returned an interception for a touchdown, recovered a fumble for a score and returned an attempted onside kick for a touchdown.
The All-Arena honor was the second that Jackson has earned in his five-year AFL career. Before joining the Sharks, Jackson spent three seasons with theNew Orleans VooDoo (2011-12, 2014) and one with the Pittsburgh Power (2013). He also joined theCleveland Gladiators during the 2014 postseason, helping that team earn a spot in ArenaBowl XXVII. Over the course of his time in the AFL, Jackson has totaled 344.5 tackles (275 solo), 35 interceptions, 24 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries.
A Jacksonville native, the 29-year-old Lewis (6-5, 350, Tennessee State) is set for his fourth season with the Sharks and sixth in the Arena Football League. Lewis made 11 starts along the offensive line during the 2015 regular season, serving as a key part of the pass protection unit that allowed a total of just eight sacks, both the lowest total among any AFL team in 2015 and the fewest that the Sharks have yielded in franchise history. Lewis also hauled in one reception for 17 yards as an eligible tight end.
Lewis has been a mainstay along the offensive line during his time with the Sharks, as he started 16 games in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Prior to joining his hometown AFL team, he made 14 starts over the course of two seasons with Iowa. In his career, Lewis has caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
The 29-year-old DeGrate (6-3, 250, Texas A&M-Commerce) heads to Jacksonville after spending each of the last two seasons with the Cleveland Gladiators. DeGrate appeared in 16 games with Cleveland this past season, recording 20.5 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a team-high total of five forced fumbles. The previous year, DeGrate totaled 16.5 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games.
Prior to his time in Cleveland, DeGrate recorded career high totals of 44.0 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks with the Pittsburgh Power in 2015. DeGrate also forced two fumbles and knocked down three passes that season. He got his first AFL experience in 2011, splitting time with the Power and the Tulsa Talons during that season. Over the course of his four-year AFL career, DeGrate has totaled 101.0 tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, 12.0 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.
The 23-year-old Pickett (6-0, 200, Troy) is set to begin his career in the Arena Football League. Pickett got his first professional experience in 2014, as he was invited to participate in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookie minicamp following the 2014 NFL Draft.
Prior to the start of his professional career, Pickett attended Troy University, where he was a fixture in the Trojans’ secondary over the course of his four-year collegiate career. Appearing in a total of 44 games, Pickett saw action at both cornerback and safety, totaling 206 tackles (140 solo), 14 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. Pickett returned a fumble for a touchdown during his sophomore season in 2011, and racked up 14 tackles in a game against Western Kentucky during his senior campaign.