New professional football team includes former Golden Eagles

New professional football team includes former Golden Eagles

By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There's a new team in town, and the roster includes a pair of former Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. The Nashville Venom, an expansion team in the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) makes its debut Saturday night with the franchise opener in Huntsville, Ala., against the defending league champion Alabama Hammer.

Coincidentally, a key player for the Hammers is another former Golden Eagle, wide receiver Larry Shipp. His squad will host a Venom team whose roster includes Derek Dickerson and Will Johnson. Dickerson, a linebacker during his time under coach Watson Brown at Tech, is listed as a fullback. Johnson, an all-OVC defensive back for Brown's Golden Eagles, is scheduled for a defensive back role.

The Venom will host a "Meet & Greet" event, open to the public, Wednesday night in Nashville (March 26) from 6-8 p.m., at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritavile Cafe on Broadway.  The event will feature the team's coaching staff, players and cheer/dance team.

The season opener is Saturday at the Von BRaun Center in Huntsville, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT.

The home opener will be a week later when the Venom host the Harrisburg (Pa.) Stampede on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. The Venom will play in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.

The Venom are bringing indoor football back to the city of Nashville for the first time since 2007. Following along with the PIFL’s regional footprint, the Venom will become regular rivals with the Alabama Hammers, Columbus (Ga.) Lions, and Georgia Fire, combining to face off against those opponents eight times.

Will Johnson Derek Dickerson Larry Shipp

Other than the name and the uniforms, once the season kicks off nothing about this franchise will seem expansion. Led by veteran head coach Billy Back, the Venom will feature a number of players who have found indoor/arena success in other leagues, including Back himself.

Back enters his first season with the Venom having already amassed a 40-12 career record including having a perfect 12-0 (2011) season on his resume.  While leading the Cincinnati Commandoes, Back orchestrated three consecutive league championships going a combined 29-3 during the regular season and a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs.

To help with his transition, Back brings along some former players in hopes of equaling the success he gained in his previous stops.  Offensively, WR Phillip Barnett and QB/WR George Murray both earned All-league honors in 2011, in addition to DB Corry Stewart, who at one point had a four-interception game.

Other notable signings include DB Daylan Walker and DL Walter Thomas, who both have AFL experience. Walker spent majority of the 2012 season with the Jacksonville Sharks, getting 43 tackles, one interception, and one fumble recovery, while Thomas signed with the Arizona Rattlers in 2010.

In all the current Venom roster features eight players with NFL experience, of which includes WR Dontel Watkins (Titans), Chris Thompson (Cowboys), Cobrani Mixon (Lions & Packers), LaMark Armour (Cowboys), Wayne Daniels (Jets), Walter Thomas (Saints), Daylan Walker (Falcons), and Alex Carder (Lions).

One spot in which the Venom could rely on an untested player could arguably the most important position, quarterback. Rookie quarterback Alex Carder is among the quarterbacks vying for the starting spot. Once a Walter Camp Player of the Year candidate for Western Michigan, Carder owns a number of individual school records including single-season record for passing yards.

The Venom roster also includes area players from Middle Tennessee State, Cumberland, Tennessee State, UT Chattanooga and Murray State.

For additional information on the team, click here to view the official Nashville Venom webpage.
For additional information on the PIFL, click here to view the official league webpage.

The 2014 Nashville Venom Roster (as of March 24, 2014)

No. Name Pos. HT WT College Exp.
  Barnett, Phillip WR 6'2 210 Toledo 4th
  Blake, Curtis LB 6'4 255 Middle Tennessee St. 3rd
  Bradley, Stanlee OL 6'2 315 Cumberland 3rd
  Carder, Alex QB 6'2 215 Western Michigan R
  Daniels, Wayne LB 6'3 260 TCU 3rd
  Davis, Kenny DL 6'4 315 South Carolina R
  Dickerson, Derek FB 6'2 245 Tennessee Tech 2nd
  Duckery, Zach QB 6'1 200 Cumberland R
  Ebagua, Terrence WR 6'6 225 Florida St. 2nd
  Frazier, James DL 6'4 280 Minnesota 6th
  Jenkins, James OL 6'6 310 Kentucky St. 2nd
  Jester, Jeremy DL 6'5 260 Central Arkansas R
  Johnson, Wil DB 6'2 215 Tennessee Tech R
  Jolly, Jordan WR 6'2 185 Navarro 2nd
  Jones, Layton WR 6'5 260 Ole Miss R
  Jordan, Greshom OL 6'6 315 Tennessee St. 3rd
  Kelly, Anthony LB 6'4 240 Florida St. 4th
  Mixion, Cobrani LB 6'1 250 Kent St. 2nd
  Morgan, Garrett K 5'10 190 Central Arkansas 5th
  Mosley, Jordan OL 6'6 310 Johnson C. Smith  
  Murray, George QB 6'2 205 Cincinnati 5th
  Ogletree, Mack WR 5'11 200 St. Joseph's College  
  Ramsey III, Ernest DB 6'2 185 Tennessee Tech R
  Rogers, Scooter DB 6'2 196 UL-Lafayette 4th
  Stewart, Corry DB 5'9 180 Hanover 3rd
  Taylor, B.J. DL 6'3 300 UT-Chattanooga R
  Thomas, Walter DL 6'7 345 Oklahoma St. 3rd
  Thompson, Chris OL 6'3 305 Houston 3rd
  Tucker, Dedrick DL 6'3 285 Mississippi Valley St. 2nd
  Veal, Kenny DB 5'10 185 Toledo 2nd
  Walker, Daylan DB 5'10 190 Arkansas St. 4th
  Walton, Kenny DB 6'2 190 Itawamba CC R
  Watkins, Dontel WR 6'2 200 Murray St.  

Highlighted in yellow indicates "exempt" players

Note: Some of the information for this story was provided by Matthew Hester, Communications Director for the Professional Indoor Football League