Predators exercise contract options on 12 rookies
Friday October 9, 2015
ORLANDO – October 9, 2015 – The Orlando Predators exercised one-year rookie contract options on 12 players from its 2015 South Division championship roster Friday, retaining the rights to each player through the 2016 season.
Players retained include wide receivers LaMark Brown, Derrick Hector and Courtney Gardner; defensive backs Nick Taylor, Emanuel Cook, Brian Smith and Arthur Hobbs; defensive linemen Austin Brown, Monte Lewis and Tim Jackson; and offensive linemen Will Maxwell and Erle Ladson.
Brown (6-4, 225, Minnesota State-Mankato) played in 11 games last season, managing 40 receptions for 489 yards and eight touchdowns. Also a special teams standout, he added 15.5 tackles and even returned a ball off the net for a touchdown as a member of the kickoff unit. Prior to joining the Predators, Brown played for the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings.
Hector (6-4, 225, Morehouse) and Gardner (6-3, 220, Sierra College) did not see game action in 2015. Hector was inactive for the final six games of the season and joined the Predators after a college career that saw him haul in 87 passes for 1,146 yards and 10 touchdowns over his final two seasons. Gardner finished the season on the injured reserve list. He registered 61 receptions for 1,099 yards and 13 touchdowns in his final college season before signing with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
A Florida native from Miami Norland High School, Taylor (5-9, 185, Florida International) started 16 games in 2015. He finished second on the team with 86.0 total tackles and added 20 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Taylor also notched four interceptions, including one that was returned for a 24-yard touchdown. Taylor made the conversion to football after playing college basketball at Florida International. He has previously been a member of the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.
Cook (5-9, 205, South Carolina) played in just 12 contests, but finished second in the AFL with an average of 7.9 tackles per game. He led the Predators with 95.0 total stops while adding 1.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Prior to joining the Predators, Cook enjoyed a four-year career in the NFL that included a victory in Super Bowl XLVII as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. He is a local product from Palm Beach Gardens Community High School
Smith (5-11, 180, Virginia Union) played in two games with one start for the Preds and recorded three tackles with two pass breakups. He played collegiately at Virginia Union University, where he registered 166 tackles with six interceptions, 25 pass breakups, four blocked kicks and two forced fumbles. Smith has also been a member of the New York Jets and the AFL’s Portland Thunder.
Hobbs (5-10, 190, Nebraska-Kearney) did not play in the AFL in 2015 after signing with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders prior to the start of the season, but will return to the Predators in 2016. He has previously played for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he delivered 32 tackles with two interceptions and a fumble recovery as a rookie in 2013.
Tim Jackson (6-4, 280, North Carolina) played in the final four games of 2015 for the Predators, recording two tackles and one assisted sack. He played in 44 games during his four-year college career at North Carolina and registered 70 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss while adding nine quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and one interception. Jackson has also been a member of the Houston Texans and the CFL’s B.C. Lions. He is a native of St. Petersburg and attended Gibbs High School.
Monte Lewis (6-4, 250, Jacksonville State) played in the final two games of 2015 and recorded one assisted tackle and a pass breakup. He totaled 90 tackles with eight sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick during his college career at Jacksonville State and has also been a member of the Washington Redskins, San Jose SaberCats, and Ottawa REDBLACKS of the CFL.
Wil Maxwell (6-2, 310, Georgia Southern) started the final 12 games of the season at center for the Predators, solidifying a line that blocked for the AFL’s third-ranked scoring offense (56.8 ppg). He was an FCS All-American at Georgia Southern and has also been a member of the Carolina Panthers.
Austin Brown (6-2, 300, Miami-Ohio) and Erle Ladson (6-6, 335, Delaware) also had their rookie options exercised but will remain on the AFL’s “Other League Exempt” list. Ladson is currently playing for the Cleveland Browns while Brown is a member of the New Orleans Saints. In the event that either player returns to the AFL, Orlando will hold their rights for an additional season.
ABOUT THE ORLANDO PREDATORS
The 2014 and 2015 back-to-back South Division Champion Orlando Predators enter their 25th season as Central Florida’s most exciting and innovative professional sports franchise. Proud members of the Arena Football League, the Predators have achieved unprecedented success on the field. Orlando has advanced to the AFL playoffs a league-leading 22 times in their history while securing seven conference championships, including two ArenaBowl Championship victories in 1998 and 2000.