The Tri-Cities Fever played its last game in July, when it lost to the Sioux Falls Storm in the Indoor Football League championship.
Two months later, Fever coach Adam Shackleford is beginning the rebuilding process for the 2013 season by signing players.
First and foremost among the signings are veterans Kasey Peters at quarterback, and kicker Brady Beeson.
Peters spent the 2012 season as the backup to regular starter Houston Lillard.But last month, Lillard asked to be released so he could find a chance to move up to either the Arena Football League or Canadian Football League.Peters wanted a chance to play regularly in the IFL, and Shackleford wants to give him that chance.
“He’s down in California working out hard,” Shackleford said. “We’re going to bring in some other guys to camp to compete at quarterback, and Kasey knows that.”
But Peters will have the inside track, as he knows Shackleford’s offensive system.
“Knowing the system definitely helps in this offense,” Peters said. “It’s really quarterback-friendly.”
And while Peters played very little last season at quarterback, that didn’t stop him from contributing on the field. He asked to play on the kickoff and kickoff return teams.
“That’s huge, I think, to see a quarterback willing to sacrifice his body playing on the kickoff and kickoff return teams,” Peters said. “It was nice to contribute.”
Shackleford said he earned the respect of his teammates by playing on special teams.
“He was well-liked by his teammates,” Shackleford said.
Peters will spend the rest of this calendar year in California, throwing to receivers. He plans on moving back up to the Tri-Cities after Jan. 1 to get settled in a month before camp starts.
The signing of Beeson was a surprise, because kicker is usually the last position the Fever fills before the season.
“It was Brady’s idea,” Shackleford said. “He wanted to come back early. He felt a whole season here would be his best strategy. I told him he could wait in case a better offer comes along, that he was still my kicker. But he wanted to do it.”
Shackleford expects about eight veterans from last season’s team to sign with the Fever again.
“Most of them,” he said, “will be rookies from last season’s team.”
The new players who have signed are:
Brandon Anderson, a 6-foot, 215-pound running back from Fort Valley State
WR/DB Demario Barber, a 5-9, 165-pounder from Fort Valley State
DL Kevin Cyrille, a 6-4, 280-pounder from Florida Atlantic
DB Johnny Fobbs, a 6-foot, 210-pounder from TCU
OL Joshua Harrison, a 6-3, 335-pounder from South Carolina State
OL Tavaris Jeffries, a 6-5, 340-pounder from Oklahoma
OL Trevon Williams, a 6-3, 330-pounder from Fort Valley State
In Williams, the Fever get a guy who spent last season with the New Orleans Voodoo of the AFL. In 2011, he played for the Fever’s rival, the Colorado Ice.
But Shackleford said he got Williams to commit because the coach had helped the lineman get hooked up with Voodoo coach Pat O’Hara in the first place.
In Harrison, the Fever gets a guy “who played in the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers camp. He was an All-American at South Carolina State too,” said Shackleford.
So was Barber at Fort Valley State as a kick returner and wide receiver.
“He reminds me of Steven Whitehead on film,” Shackleford said. “Obviously, we don’t care about size.”
Notes: Fever owner Teri Carr was busy Thursday working on a couple of drafts of the 2013 schedule. The earliest date for a home game would be March 15. ... The IFL’s lineup will be announced after Oct. 1. ... One team that is in will be the Texas Revolution, which was the Allen Wranglers last season. Tommy Benizio, who started the 2012 season as the league’s commissioner but finished it as a part-owner of Allen, put together an ownership group to run the Revolution. ... Robert Loving, who succeeded Benizio last season as interim commissioner, had the interim tag removed at last week’s league meetings.