Free Agency Tracker: Thunder Acquisitions
Portland Thunder Press Release
The Portland Thunder acquired eight players on the opening day of Arena Football League free agency, the team announced on Thursday. The Thunder have been assigned three veterans in wide receiversRashaad Carter and Nick Truesdell and All-Arena center John Collins, along with five first-year players including offensive linemen Rico Forbes andDarius Savage; defensive linemen Justin Francis and Delano Johnson; and defensive back Antoine Lewis.
Carter (6-2, 210, Tusculum) enters his third season in the AFL, having spent the last two years playing for Thunder head coach Andy Olson in Spokane. He tallied 141 receptions for 1,617 yards and 29 touchdowns in 33 games for Spokane during the 2014 and 2015 AFL seasons. He ranked second in receiving for the Shock in and third in 2015. Tusculum’s all-time leader in receiving yards, Carter led the Pioneers with 1,056 receiving yards his senior year in 2011. He caught 70 passes and averaged 96 yards per game in 2011. After spending a year away from football in 2012, Carter signed a free agent deal with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens on May 13, 2013. He spent the entirety of the 2013 offseason with the Ravens before linking up with the Shock the following February.
“Rashaad is a very hard working, positive player that will bring consistency to our offense,” Olson said. “He is capable of breaking tackles and making big time plays for us in the clutch. He will play a large role in achieving our goals in 2016.”
Truesdell (6-7, 240, Cincinnati) also enters his third season in the AFL, having spent the last two years under Olson’s guidance with the Shock. He has 112 receptions on his AFL resume, good for 1,327 yards and 30 touchdowns in 24 appearances over the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Prior to coming to the AFL, Truesdell spent time in rookie mini-camp with the Green Bay Packers.
“We are extremely excited about adding Nick to our roster,” Olson said. “He is one of the most physically gifted players in the AFL. Having worked with him over the past two years, we will be able to hit the ground running, with him as a leader in the receiving corps.”
Collins (6-3, 305, Harvard), an All-Arena selection with the Thunder in 2015, returns for his third year in Portland. Collins was the anchor for an offensive front that only allowed 19 sacks in 2015, the fifth best mark in the AFL last season. He was also the only Portland player to start every game in 2015. Originally acquired by the Thunder on May 15, 2014, Collins appeared in two games for Portland before being placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. The Harvard graduate played all four seasons for the Crimson and was an All-Ivy League selection his senior season in 2012. In 2011, Collins started all 10 games on the offensive line and aided Harvard en route to winning its 14th Ivy League Championship.
“Being able to secure an All-Arena center like John Collins is tremendous,” Olson stated. “He is a guy you want to build your organization around, but John doesn’t just give us great play on the field. His leadership within the locker will be even more important.”
The Thunder also landed five first-year players on Day 1 of AFL free agency.
“This is a great first wave of rookies coming to Portland this off-season,” Olson said. “We are always looking for those young guys to come in and challenge the vets and make our team better. We feel that these players have the potential to come in and make an immediate impact. You can never have enough depth and competition in camp, so we are excited to see who shines with the lights come on.”
Forbes (6-6, 300, Washington State) comes to the Thunder from the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders, having spent 2015 training camp with the CFL club currently hosting former Portland players Brandon Tett and Eric Rogers. Prior to joining up with Calgary, Forbes was a member of the BC Lions in 2014, and spent rookie mini-camp with the Green Bay Packers earlier that year. Originally from the Bahamas, Forbes spent three years in Pullman with Washington State after transferring from Navarro College, appearing in 13 games at right tackle for the Cougars during his red-shirt senior season. He was assigned to Spokane prior to the 2015 AFL season but did not see any game action with the team.
Francis (6-4, 270, Rutgers) appeared in 10 games with the New England Patriots during the 2012 NFL season after being signed as an undrafted free agent earlier that year. He registered 8.5 tackles and three sacks during that time. The former Scarlet Knight played in 43 games for Rutgers from 2007 to 2011, collecting 80.5 tackles, 12 sacks, and four interceptions.
Johnson (6-4, 290, Bowie State) spent each of the last two seasons with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, tallying 15 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. Prior to his move to Canada, Johnson spent the 2012 NFL season as a member of the Houston Texans practice squad. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Johnson amassed 219 total tackles over four years as a linebacker for the Bowie State Bulldogs from 2007 to 2011, setting school records in blocked kicks for a season with seven (2010) and career blocked kicks (11). He also finished his BSU career with six interceptions, 20 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, and five sacks.
Lewis (5-10, 185, Purdue) arrives in Portland after stints with both the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Lewis was invited to rookie mini-camp with the Ravens earlier in 2015 before spending the off-season and training camp with the Tiger-Cats. Lewis played four years for the Purdue Boilermakers from 2011 to 2014, appearing in 41 games, notching 52 tackles, four pass breakups, and two interceptions.
Savage (6-4, 339, UCLA) played four seasons at UCLA from 2007 to 2010, appearing in 35 games over his final three seasons for the Bruins with 20 starts at left guard. The 2010 Jerry Long “Heart” Award winner helped UCLA run for at least 200 yards in four games during that season. Savage was also a key member of the Bruins’ track and field team during that time, earning both indoor and outdoor All-American nods in 2008 for shot put and discus, respectively, along with earning the USATF Junior National Championship title in 2007 for discus.