|2017 CAMP PREVIEW SERIES: LINEBACKERS|
Lehigh Valley Opens Training Camp February 26th
Allentown, PA: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks are in the midst of finalizing their 2017 preseason training camp roster for the upcoming National Arena League season. The team is allowed to bring forty players into camp to vie for twenty-four roster spots leading into the teams NAL season opener on March 19th. As the team comes together, we’ll start a camp preview series breaking down the team by position. Up today, are the headhunters: Linebackers.
Linebackers in the arena league have one of the biggest adjustments to make coming from the outdoor game – being confined to the ‘box’ and not being able to drop into coverage more than six yards. Experience is key to be able to get off to a swift start from day one of camp. And the Steelhawks have just that. Coming into camp are all our starting linebackers from the end of the 2016 season: LB/DL Chris Alvarez (6’3, 245lbs, Rowan), LB/DL Carl Fleming (6’2, 245lbs, IUP), and LB/DB Lenroy Neysmith (6’3, 210lbs, American International). The rest of the linebackers gained experience in the AIF last season: LB/DL Joe Koonce (6’4, 250lbs, Montclair State) and LB D.J. Simon (6’1, 245lbs, Old Dominion).
Alvarez is back for his third season in the Lehigh Valley. After spending most of the season with the Philadelphia Soul of the AFL, he returned to the ’Hawks for the last two regular season games and tallied 4.5 tackles and a pass break up. Neysmith played in all ten games last year and racked up 28.5 tackles, four interceptions, and scored two defensive touchdowns. Fleming had a break out performance in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, picking up a key interception to seal the game.
Koonce has impressed in his off season workouts and provides the versatility to drop down to the defensive line if needed.
All of the team’s linebacker’s possess the hard-hitting qualities you want at the line of scrimmage, but they also have the range to get wall to wall in coverage. This athleticism at linebacker, coupled with the versatility of the linemen should make for a very competitive camp for the defensive front five spots.
Head Coach Chris Thompson is looking for leadership out of this group of linebackers. “Last year we were young at our LB positions and at times it showed, especially when we lost Alvarez to the AFL, but right now he is back for the start of the 2017 season and everyone else coming in has size and experience. We expect it to be a great battle for those Linebacker positions and it could possibly be the strength of our defense until we can gel together as a defensive unit. It’s also great to have a few that can put their hand down and play Defensive End if the need arises, but we couldn’t be happier on paper then with the crew of experienced Linebackers we have coming into camp this February.”
Training camp begins Sunday, February 26th for the Steelhawks. It will wrap up with the Annual Lehigh Valley Health Network Black and Vegas Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, March 11th. A full camp schedule will be announced at a later date.
Steelhawks’ 2017 season tickets are on sale now with packages starting as low as $48! All Steelhawks’ games are played on Embassy Bank Field inside the PPL Center in Allentown.
Stay up to date with the Steelhawks by visiting the team website at www.LVSteelhawks.com.