The next team in our series previewing the inaugural AAF season is the San Diego Fleet. The Fleet will become the first professional football side to grace the city of San Diego since the Chargers left for LA two years ago. As you may be able to deduce, the team is named ‘Fleet’ after the city’s long-standing ties to the United States Navy.
The Fleet will play in Battleship grey, yellow and silver grey. They will play their home games at the SDCCU Stadium which is currently home to the San Diego State Aztecs during the college season and is the former home of the Chargers. The stadium has a capacity of 70,000 and has a rich footballing history, having hosted three Super Bowls.
The Fleet hold the player rights for the following colleges and pro teams:
Colleges: Arkansas, Azusa Pacific, Cal Poly, Fresno State, Hawaii, Humboldt State, Sacramento State, San Diego, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, UC Davis, UNLV, USC, Washington.
NFL: Detriot Lions, LA Chargers, LA Rams, Oakland Raiders.
CFL: BC Lions
Head Coach – Mike Martz
Mike Martz is the man with the headset for the Fleet – the former Rams OC and head coach is vastly experienced in football and even has a Super Bowl ring from his time in St Louis. As offensive coordinator in 1999, St Louis Rams went to Super Bowl 34 and came away victorious against Tennessee Titans.
He then became the head coach in St Louis boasting a record of 56-36 in his five and a half year spell in the hot seat. During that time, they reached the play-offs four times as well as reaching another Super Bowl – losing to the Patriots at Super Bowl 36. The main concern with Martz will be the fact he hasn’t had a job since 2011 when he was the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. He hasn’t held a Head Coach position since that five year he spent in charge at the Rams. Could rust be an issue?
Mike Bercovici (QB)
Although he never managed to play any regular season football, Bercovici has played for two NFL teams in the past. He represented the then San Diego Chargers in 2016 but failed to make it past final roster cuts. Following that, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals practice squad but lasted little more than a month before being released.
In his college career, Bercovici represented Arizona State University for his whole four years in the collegiate system. In his senior year, he threw 318 passes and held an accuracy percentage of 59.9% in 13 games. He also threw for 30 touchdowns and was picked off nine times throughout his final year of school.
Last year, he actually signed for the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF but ended up being drafted by the Fleet in the second round of the Quarterback draft in November.
Nelson Spruce (WR)
Nelson Spruce is an impressive wide receiver with a host of experience and a history of poor luck. He has represented the LA Rams, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and LA Chargers professionally. He made the most impact at the Rams where he signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2016 draft.
In his debut in preseason, he made quite the impression racking up six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he got injured on the last play of the game and was out for the rest of preseason. Despite this, he made the Rams regular season roster but never managed to make an appearance. The Rams stuck with him until the following year but he was eventually cut in preseason. He was then signed to the Bears practice squad before stints in Kansas and then back in LA with the chargers, failing to make a lasting impression at either team.
He played his college ball in Colorado representing the Buffaloes. In his time there, he set or tied a phenomenal 43 school or conference records.
Terrell Watson (RB)
Despite being only 25-years-old, Terrell Watson has represented no less than seven NFL teams in the last three years. They are the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and LA Chargers.
He never really made it past the practice squad anywhere other than the Eagles and the Steelers. He made his professional and regular season debut in Philadelphia during which he recorded 28 carries for nine yards as well as a touchdown. Despite that, he was released a few months later and signed for the Steelers. In Pittsburgh, after an impressive preseason, he was named the third choice back behind LeVeon Bell and James Conner. He didn’t last the whole season and was released in November before being resigned to the practice squad.
His career has petered out a little since then despite stints on the preseason roster at the Giants and Chargers. In September last year, he signed for the Fleet – he should be very interesting to watch in the new season. He could definitely be one of the stars of the show.
Gavin Escobar (TE)
Compared to some of the others in the AAF, Gavin Escobar is somewhat of a veteran in professional football. As a lot of you will remember, he spent three years in Dallas with the Cowboys from 2013 to 2016. Despite being part of the team for four seasons, playing as the third-string TE for most of that time, he never really made much of an impact.
His main issue was that he struggled with his blocking ability, which was what was needed from back up TE in Dallas as the legendary Jason Witten was first choice. He played in 62 games (7 starts), making 30 receptions for 333 yards and 8 touchdowns. He then went on to join the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns but failed to make any impact at all in any of those sides.
In college, he represented the San Diego State University Aztecs where he was red-shirted in his freshman year due to having testicular cancer. Thankfully, he was able to overcome cancer quite quickly after having the tumour removed. The following year, he made the team properly. In his college career as a whole, he tallied 122 receptions for 1,646 yards, 17 touchdowns and never missed a game.