Thunder continue Free Agency Haul with Five Rookies
Thursday November 5, 2015
PORTLAND – The Portland Thunder continue to do business on the AFL’s opening day of free agency, as head coach Andy Olson announced the acquisition of five rookies this afternoon.
DL Justin Francis, OL Rico Forbes, LB Delano Johnson, DB Antoine Lewis, and OL Darius Savage will all enter their first season of AFL play with the Thunder in 2016.
The quintet are the second batch of free agent signings of the 2015-16 AFL off-season for the Thunder. Teams were allowed to begin signing players at 12:00AM ET (9:00PM PT), on the morning of November 5. The Thunder began the free agency period with the announcement that veteran wide receivers Rashaad Carter and Nick Truesdell were assigned.
“This is a great first wave of rookies coming to Portland this off-season,” Olson stated. “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.”
Justin 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. Justin registered 8.5 tackles and three sacks during that time. The former Scarlet Knight played in 43 games for Rutgers from 2007 to 2011, registering 80.5 tackles, with 22 going for a loss, 12 sacks, and four interceptions.
Ererico Forbes (6-6, 300, Washington State) comes to the Thunder from the Calgary Stampeders, spending 2015 training camp with the CFL club that is currently host to former Thunder 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.
Delano 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 entirety of 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/punts for a season with seven (2010) and career blocked kicks/punts (11). Other BSU career statistics for Johnson include six interceptions, 20 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and five sacks.
Antoine 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 as a trialist to rookie mini-camp with the Ravens earlier this year, before spending the off-season and training camp with the Tiger-Cats. Antoine played all four years for the Purdue Boilermakers from 2011 to 2014, appearing in 41 games, notching 52 tackles, four pass break-ups, and two interceptions.
Darius Savage (6-4, 339, UCLA) spent the last three years as a member of the IFL’s Nebraska Danger. The offensive lineman played all four years at UCLA from 2007 to 2010, and appeared in 35 games over his final three seasons for the Bruins, starting 20 times from his favored position 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.
About the Portland Thunder
The Portland Thunder would like to thank our fans and sponsors for bringing the BOOM this 2015 AFL Season. Tickets and sponsorships are now available for the 2016 AFL Season. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-773-4235. For all the latest news and discussion on the Portland Thunder, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@pdxthunder).