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Samuels bolts, but Storm signs nine


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000

Though he said after the season he hoped to retain all his free agents, Storm coach Tim Marcum figured he probably would lose one or two.

Friday, he did.

Lawrence Samuels, a wide receiver/linebacker who led Tampa Bay in touchdowns and was second in receiving last year, signed with the New Jersey Red Dogs.

Samuels was one of seven Storm free agents because of the new collective bargaining agreement, which freed every player with at least four years of experience. Samuels was among the four Marcum had hoped to retain. The others were receiver James Bowden, quarterback John Kaleo and linebacker Andre Bowden.

Samuels, the senior member of the team, was coming off the best of his seven Storm seasons. He caught 62 passes for 844 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Storm announced the signing of nine players, including former University of Florida defensive back Brian "Dock" Pollard of Bradenton.

The Storm dipped into the Arena Football2 talent pool to sign one of that league's top quarterbacks, Shane Stafford, and All-AF2 fullback Tommy Hornick.

Stafford, who played with the Tallahassee Thunder last season, threw for 4,394 yards and 85 touchdowns. He set the league record for passing yards in a game with 459. Hornick played with the Carolina Rhinos and was fifth in the league with 176 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. As a linebacker, he had 51 tackles and five sacks.

The Storm focused on the defensive backfield, a sore spot last season, by signing defensive specialists Pierre Hixon (New England), Gerald Neasman (Peoria of the Indoor Football League), and former Nashville Kat Jamie Coleman, who was All-Arena second team in 1997. On offense, it added wide receiver/defensive back Bernard Edwards, who at one time was one of the league's top receivers with Florida, earning All-Arena honors in 1995.

Otis Grant (6 feet 6, 290 pounds) and Doug Reicherter (6-2, 275), both linemen, also signed.

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