Adam Shackleford says this past month and a half has been the toughest of his professional career as he has worked frantically trying to assemble the Tri-Cities Fever roster.
"I usually have everything done by the time I got started," the Fever coach said, who was hired three days before Christmas. "I am just trying to keep my head above water."
That being said, Shackleford has shown he can play catch-up and in a hurry. Over the past two weeks, players have steadily been turning in their contracts as the Fever roster has more than 30 players, including the signing of Zillah native quarterback Andy Collins earlier this week.
"I think guys are figuring it's time to get somewhere and solidify their positions," Shackleford said.
Shackleford expects to bring in about 35 players to training camp which starts Feb. 22, some he hopes comes from Saturday's open tryout at Toyota Center.
Shackleford has never signed a player from an open tryout, but past success stories like Pasco graduate and Spokane Shock standout Raul Vijil who was signed from an open workout, give him hope.
"You just don't know what to expect," Shackleford said. "Hopefully we get some good numbers."
This is the Fever's second open tryout. The first one generated little interest with just 14 players showing up for a December workout in Las Vegas. None were offered contracts by the Fever
With all the recent signings, Shackleford would like to add some depth on the defensive line and needs one, maybe, two more quarterbacks.
The signing of Collins solidified the quarterback position that has been the biggest problem area for the Fever the past two seasons.
But the day Collins signed, the Fever lost quarterback Colin Drafts. Drafts, who was 2-2 as a starter for the Fever last season, was offered a contract by Dallas of the Arena Football One league, leaving Collins as the only quarterback on the Fever roster.
Collins, who missed most of the arenafootball2 season a year ago with a knee injury, is a versatile player that is equally dangerous throwing as he is running the ball.
Collins, who was with the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League for part of the 2008 season, played in four games for the Lightning last season. In that short amount of time, he threw for nearly 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also ran for a team-best 155 yards and seven TDs.
In 2008, he played in seven games for the Lightning, throwing 35 touchdown passes and running for nine more.
"He is a guy perfect for this league," Shackleford said.
The recent rule to add the tight-end position that was voted in at the league meetings, was repealed Monday. The Billings Outlaws, who opposed the new rule and said that it was instituted by an illegal vote, won their case because of a loophole in the bylaws, according to Fever co-owner and general manager Teri Carr.
-- The Yakima Valley Warriors and the Wenatchee Valley Venom of the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) released their 2010 schedule Wednesday. The two expansion franchises will play 14 games, and be aligned in the six-team West Conference with Ogden (Utah), San Jose, Wyoming and Wasilla, Alaska.