Next up in our series of the eight founding teams in the AAF is the Orlando Apollos. The name ‘Apollos’ comes from the Greek God Apollo and the combined connection both the state of Florida and Apollo have with the Sun. The team will play in orange and navy blue – the orange to represent the Sunshine and the navy blue to represent the Apollo Space programme.

The Apollos will be playing at the University of Central Florida’s Spectrum Stadium. The stadium is also the home stadium of the division one NCAA football team UFC Knights. Spectrum Stadium holds 44,206 people and the Apollos have a deal which will allow them to play there for three years.

The Apollos hold the player rights for the following colleges:

Bethune-Cookman, Florida, Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Florida Tech, Jacksonville, Miami, Stetson, South Florida, UCF and West Florida.

For players who attended non-affiliate colleges, player rights are designated based on their most recent pro-football experience. For this, the Apollos control Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the NFL and Hamilton Tiger-Cats from the CFL.

Head Coach

Steve Spurriel

The Apollos have hired former Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurriel as their first ever head coach. He is a former College level and NFL level head coach as well as having coached the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL. He coached the Washington Redskins for a year between 2002-03 before going on to take charge of college side South Carolina in 2005 – where he stayed for ten years. That was in fact his last coaching job so it’ll be interesting to see if four years away from the game has impacted his coaching ability in any way.

Key Players

Garrett Gilbert (QB)

At 27 years of age, Garrett Gilbert will be the starting Quarterback for Spurriels offence. Gilbert has had his fair share of teams in the NFL as he has been a member of the St Louis Rams, New England Patriots, Detriot Lions, Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers (twice) – although he only managed to make an appearance for the Panthers.

He also had a five year College career during which he represented the Texas Longhorns and the SMU Mustangs. He will be backed up at the QB position this season by Kevin Anderson and Austin Appleby.

Marvin Bracy-Williams (WR)

Marvin Bracy-Williams junior is sure to be a big asset for Orlando on the flanks as he is a former Olympic sprinter. Since retiring from track, he has been pursuing a career in football – yet to yield much in the way of results. He has represented the Indianapolis Colts and The Seattle Seahawks but failed to make it past roster cuts in both sides.

He does have some college experience too as he represented Florida State in Track and football. He actually played in the All-America game in 2012 and made ESPN’s top ten plays of the night with a 32-yard acrobatic touchdown reception. In reference to his pace, his current personal best in the 100 metre sprint is a staggering 9.93 seconds – just 0.36 seconds behind Usain Bolt’s world record. If he can replicate his acrobatics from the All-America game and show us the full extent of his pace, he could be a fascinating watch in the AAF.

LaDarius Gunter (CB)

Gunter is one of Orlando’s more experienced players having spent more than two years playing in the NFL with Green Bay Packers and a short stint in Carolina. He managed to play a bit with Green Bay too when he replaced the injured Sam Shields in the 2016 season against Minnesota Vikings – in that game he recorded a forced fumble, his first in pro football.

During that season, Green Bay made the playoffs and Gunter played in the Wild Card round against the New York Giants – he was credited with keeping Odell Beckham Jnr to four catches for just 28 yards. In total, he managed 56 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 12 pass deflections in the NFL – He could be a huge player for Orlando on defence.

Cody Riggs (CB)

Like Gunter, Riggs is another corner with blistering speed. He also has a little bit of experience in the game with time spent the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent a year with each side and managed to rack up a modest 14 total tackles, two forced fumbles (One recovery) and two pass deflections.

His college career saw him play for the Florida Gators as well as Notre Dame and even spent a season playing as a safety for the Gators. When he transferred to Notre Dame for his final year, they moved him back to Corner and he racked up 36 tackles, one interception, three pass breakups and one forced fumble. Notably, Riggs is the son of three-time pro bowl running back, Gerald Riggs.

Roster:

Offense
NoNamePositionHeightWeightSchool
3Garrett GilbertQB6-4219 LBSSouthern Methodist
5Austin ApplebyQB6-4239 LBSPurdue
4Kevin AndersonQB6-2214 LBSFordham
22D’Ernest JohnsonRB5-10207 LBSSouth Florida
28De’Veon SmithRB5-11228 LBSMichigan
21Akeem HuntRB5-10182 LBSPurdue
13Ishmael HymanWR6-0187 LBSJames Madison
84Chris ThompsonWR6-0170 LBSFlorida
17Jalin MarshallWR5-11204 LBSOhio State
10Marvin Bracy-Williams, Jr.WR5-10184 LBSFlorida State
11Donteea Dye, Jr.WR5-9187 LBSHeidelberg
16Rannell HallWR6-1199 LBSCentral Florida
19Charles JohnsonWR6-2216 LBSGrand Valley State
80Sean PriceTE6-3244 LBSSouth Florida
89Matt WeiserTE6-5255 LBSBuffalo
83Scott OrndoffTE6-5255 LBSPittsburgh
75Andrew TillerOG6-5323 LBSSyracuse
63Tre JacksonOG6-4324 LBSFlorida State
64Jordan McCrayOG6-3310 LBSCentral Florida
74Marquis LucasOG6-4317 LBSWest Virginia
73Trevor DarlingOT6-4300 LBSMiami
66Aaron EvansOT6-5319 LBSCentral Florida
71Ronald PatrickOT6-2309 LBSSouth Carolina
77Chris MartinOT6-5302 LBSCentral Florida
70Quinterrius EatmonOT6-6312 LBSSouth Florida
Defense
NoNamePositionHeightWeightSchool
44Andrew AnkrahDE6-4248 LBSJames Madison
95Ryan Davis, Sr.DE6-2269 LBSBethune Cookman
59Earl OkineDE6-7264 LBSFlorida
92Josh Banks, Sr.DE6-4290 LBSWake Forest
99Giorgio NewberryDE6-6295 LBSFlorida State
97Izaah Burks, Sr.DT6-3312 LBSBowling Green
98Anthony Moten, Jr.DT6-4314 LBSMiami
93Leon OrrDT6-5305 LBSFlorida
90Antonio GueradDT6-4299 LBSCentral Florida
21Jerome Couplin, IIILB6-2214 LBSWilliam & Mary
51Terence GarvinLB6-3244 LBSWest Virginia
52Reggie Northrup, IILB6-1231 LBSFlorida State
54Azeem VictorLB6-3230 LBSWashington
58Christian FrenchLB6-5250 LBSOregon
50Jacob Pugh, IIILB6-4229 LBSFlorida State
27Marquez WhiteDB6-0184 LBSFlorida State
33Will Hill, IIIDB6-1207 LBSFlorida
37LaDarius GunterDB6-2197 LBSMiami
31D’Joun SmithDB5-11189 LBSFlorida Atlantic
39Keith ReaserDB6-0189 LBSFlorida Atlantic
26Josh EvansDB6-1206 LBSFlorida
20Cody RiggsDB5-9185 LBSNotre Dame
23Mark Myers, Jr.DB5-9189 LBSSoutheastern (FL)
28Bryce CanadyDB6-0192 LBSFlorida International
Special Teams
NoNamePositionHeightWeightSchool
1Ben TurkP6-0214 LBSNotre Dame
53Drew FerrisLS6-0204 LBSFlorida
2Elliott FryK6-0170 LBSSouth Carolina

Orlando will open their season at home against the Atlanta Legends on February 10th.