St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
Print story Subscribe to the Times


Lucas makes tough decision pay

After passing on Europe, the Storm lineman clears a path back to the NFL.

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 23, 2003

Al Lucas had a decision to make. A difficult one he knew could alter the course of his professional career.

In February the Frankfurt Galaxy selected the Storm lineman with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Europe free-agent draft.

Lucas, who longs to return to the NFL after spending two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, had a chance to prove himself in the NFL's developmental league.

But he decided the Arena League and its NBC television contract gave him the best chance to showcase his skills.

"I felt like I'd get the same opportunity and, being on TV basically every other week or a couple of weeks in a row, the NFL teams would get a chance to see me," said Lucas, 24.

Pleased with what they saw on television, three teams visited Tampa March 16 to watch Lucas in person.

Scouts from Green Bay, Miami and Atlanta saw Lucas push around Orlando's offensive line and turn quarterback Connell Maynor into a tackling dummy in the Storm's 52-32 win.

Lucas had six quarterback pressures, four tackles, a sack and a safety and was recognized as the league's defensive player of the week.

Green Bay visited Lucas in the locker room. Miami sent its congratulations through Lucas' agent. Their message: Keep up the good work, and we'll be in touch when training camp opens.

"Going back to the NFL is very promising right now," Lucas said.

Lucas, the 1999 Division I-AA defensive player of the year at Troy State, was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent but was released at the end of the preseason.

He signed with Carolina and proved he belonged with 38 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 13 games as a rookie. He had 11 1/2 tackles and a sack in seven games in 2001 but was released after the Panthers' 1-15 season.

The Storm signed Lucas on a recommendation from the Falcons. Lucas was up front about his desire to return to the NFL.

"Basically what I'm doing is showing these guys, 'Hey, I might need to be one of the guys considered to come back,"' he said.

Through seven games Lucas leads Storm linemen with 9 1/2 tackles. He has 2 1/2 for losses and 11/2 sacks.

"He's powerful, he has great quickness and probably the thing that makes him stand out above the rest is the fact he's tenacious," said Mitch Matuska, the Storm's director of player personnel. "His motor is wide open when he steps on the field."

Lucas was among five Arena players with NFL potential named in a Sports Illustrated article. He was pleased with the recognition but thought the magazine shortchanged his two seasons with Carolina.

"They said I played while I was on Carolina's bench for two years," Lucas said. "I wasn't on the bench. I was a backup."

If there is a knock on Lucas, it's his height. At 6-1, 300 pounds, he doesn't fit the prototype of a defensive tackle, Matuska said.

Nevertheless Lucas said he believes he will get a second shot at the NFL.

"With me getting a good pass rush week in and week out, that's what a lot of teams want to see," he said. "They want to see you out here playing, no matter what level it is."

Matuska agrees.

"He's going to a training camp somewhere," Matuska said. "There's no doubt."

Print story Subscribe to the Times

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

From the Times sports desk
  • John Romano: Gators counter with speed, skill
  • Gary Shelton: Spartans are bruisers, and proud of it
  • Hubert Mizell: Hall of Fame for Rose? Yes. In the dugout? No way

  • College basketball
  • Eek, eek, eke for Arizona
  • Hokies avoid upset in final second
  • Hot-shooting Irish take care of Illini
  • Force with young Eagle
  • Big two take over for Huskies
  • Newcomers take stage for Sooners

  • Tampa subregional
  • UF's small center comes up big
  • Prosser provides higher education
  • Versatility is this Spartan's game
  • Affection only, not acrimony
  • Sense of deja vu for UF seniors in tonight's match
  • State ties, rivalry bind two guards
  • Deacons seeing double as they watch Daniels
  • Post players come up big for Auburn
  • Strengths balance out in this tossup
  • Florida: 5 keys to victory
  • Michigan State: 5 keys to victory
  • Another win would prove Tigers' point
  • Wake Forest: 5 keys to victory
  • Auburn: 5 keys to victory
  • Mix of royals, dancers, lawyers
  • Vitale gets the last word on Auburn coach
  • Seasons change for Florida's fans
  • Hoopla!
  • What's a wager between family members?

  • Guest Analyst
  • UF's playmakers vs. MSU's physicality
  • Wake Forest-Auburn: This game will be won on the boards

  • Kickin' back with Marquis Daniels
  • Daniels is down with T-Mac, but not Marines

  • Golf
  • Mano-a-mano third round falls short
  • Sorenstam breaks out of logjam
  • Eagle moves Huston up leaderboard

  • NFL
  • Changes to OT likely to be nixed
  • Rant, Rave

  • Baseball
  • Myers solidifies spot in rotation
  • Neagle has pain-free workout

  • Equestrian
  • Jumping for a World Cup chance

  • NHL
  • Slapshots
  • Wings cement Central hold

  • In brief
  • 31st wrestling title for Oklahoma State

  • Horses
  • Lane's End Stakes to New York Hero

  • Arena
  • Lucas makes tough decision pay

  • Internet
  • Indirect insights offered

  • TV/Radio
  • Two like Spartans' chances

  • NBA
  • Hawks' Ratliff blocks Indiana's shot at win

  • Motorsports
  • Harvick puts trouble behind him with win
  • Bristol supplies moving action

  • Preps
  • Panthers' four-run rally sends Lions to 6-5 loss
  • Saladino at Gaither
  • Dragons ride ace against Indians
  • Jesuit gets help in wins
  • Falcons get back on track
  • Warhawks' leadership right on time
  • Impressive loss for Knights
  • Your turn

  • Rays
  • Curtain closes on Rays' Hit Show
  • Release clears up lineup questions
  • Rays sing a familiar refrain: low payroll

  • Lightning
  • Just one more point
  • Team ending Springfield affiliation

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts