Tri-Cities Fever

Drafts leaving Fever for new Dallas franchise

Colin Drafts thought he'd finally figured out which direction his life was going to head.

He was returning to play for the Tri-Cities Fever with a newly minted college degree in his hand ready to put down some roots in the Mid-Columbia.

But the same thing that lured Drafts back to the area is taking him away.

Drafts recently signed a contract to play quarterback for the new Dallas franchise in the newly formed Arena Football One league. It's more money and it's an opportunity to play in the high level of arena football.

"This was all of a sudden," the quarterback said. "I hadn't talked to anyone (in the AF1) until last week."

Drafts, who picked up everything and moved to the Tri-Cities at the beginning of January, will pack up again and head to Dallas at the end of this February to play for an old admirer in coach Rich Ingold.

"It's a great opportunity for him," said Fever coach Adam Shackleford. "We wish him the best."

Drafts' departure leaves the Fever with just one quarterback on its roster less than a month away from training camp. Shackleford says signing one or two more quarterbacks in the next few weeks is paramount, and says he is pretty close to getting some commitments.

The sudden accession to the top of the arena football world comes less than a year after Drafts was considering retirement.

After being released from Amarillo of the arenafootball2 league midway through last season, Drafts went back to South Carolina to do a little soul searching. Upon his release, Fever coach Pat O'Hara signed the veteran quarterback, hoping he would venture back to the Tri-Cities and help turn around the struggling franchise.

Drafts initially refused the opportunity to return to the team where his arena football league career started in 2007, and was content to give up football.

But after talking with his family and O'Hara several times, Drafts came back to the Fever and helped the team play respectable football over the final four weeks of the season.

The former Charleston Southern quarterback was 2-2 as a starter for the 3-13 Fever and threw for almost 1,100 yards and 21 touchdowns to just eight interceptions.

"It was a great experience playing for Coach O'Hara," Drafts said. "I hesitated, but I am glad I came back. It's the most fun I've had playing football."

Drafts made a good enough impression in that short time to be asked back by O'Hara and then Shackleford for the 2010 season.

But it was one game in 2007 that landed Drafts his latest opportunity.

Drafts, who joined the Fever late that season, stepped in to play the final two games after starting quarterback Brian Baker went out with a career-ending injury.

One of those games was a 57-54 loss to the Ingold-led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers in the first round of the playoffs. Drafts completed 20 of 37 passes for 247 yards and six touchdowns, nearly leading the Fever to the upset of the top-ranked Pioneers.

"He had tried for a while to get me to go play in Wilkes-Barre," Drafts said. "Then I got a call last Wednesday from him asking me to come play in Dallas. I'm excited. It's a great opportunity."

-- The Fever signed former Dallas Cowboys running back and kick returner Tyson Thompson this week. Thompson played for the Cowboys in 2005 and 2006.

-- Former Fever running back/kick returner Jarvis Dunn recently signed with the Kent Predators of the Indoor Football League. Dunn led the Fever in rushing in 2005, playing a huge part in the team's run to the National Indoor Football League title.