– Isaac Simpson (@Isaac_Rivals)
We’ve discussed ..we’ve podcasted .. we’ve interviewed & now we find ourselves here on the opening weekend of the inaugural AAF season as your Memphis Express will travel to Birmingham, AL for a Sunday afternoon (3pm CST) tilt w/ the Iron at Legion Field. If you’re not heading down for the game (you should be) it will be broadcasted by CBSSN. We’ve broken down the roster extensively here at MemphisAAF.com but one position group that really stands out on the roster is this talented group of wide receivers. Whatever you’re looking for whether it’s size, speed, athleticism, elusiveness you’ll find it with this group.
The opening week depth chart was released on yesterday and it starts with the two outside guys first being my Pre-Season Takeoff Player of the Year selection (player I expect to surprise) 6’6” 224lb. Kayaune Ross who will be a big target and serious red zone threat for Hackenburg. I expect him to have a big year & become a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He isn’t nicknamed “Godzilla” for nothing. Kind of bounced around as a JUCO in college before landing at Kentucky where he never quite put it all together. He was not drafted but did go to camp with the Indianapolis Colts once upon a time. I think he finally realizes that potential with the Express as you’ll hear his name called ALOT this season especially in goal to go situations.
On the other side, you have a name people should recognize here locally and that’s 6’2” 218lb. Ole Miss product Damore’ea Stringfellow who entered the NFL draft after his JR. year in 2017 but went undrafted. He was picked up as an UDFA by the Miami Dolphins and scored a 99yd touchdown in a pre-season game but was later released. Similar to Ross he’s another WR with size and will be a red zone target but brings a little bit more route running ability & speed (4.5 40 at his Ole Miss pro day) that is uncharacteristic for a guy his size. I think he and Ross create quite the tandem for the Express with two guys who have had a taste of the NFL and are eager & hungry to show what they can do.
In the slot, you have two extremely talented guys that I expect to rotate in 6’0” 190lb. Fairmont St. product Fabian Guerra and former Tennessee standout 5’8” 187lb. Alton “Pig” Howard. Guerra a former 3-time All-MEC selection is a guy I’m really excited about. Had the NCAA 2014 catch of the year on a tremendous one-handed TD snag between three defenders. If you haven’t checked out this guy’s highlights I suggest you do so! He’s most recently played for the Carolina Cobras in the arena league but he brings a tremendous catch radius & a guy who will appear to be covered but can still make a play for you. He could be that safety valve for Hackenberg in check down scenarios. Alton “Pig” Howard was a really good receiver for the Volunteers but had some off the field issues that led to him being dismissed from the program his SR. year. Doesn’t have the typical speed of a guy his size in the slot but makes up for it with his shiftiness and elusiveness. He just finds ways to get open. The slot position for the Express is in good hands.
The Other Guys
Amongst the remaining three receivers 6’2” 194lb. former Arizona St. standout Devin Lucien is probably the most talented. A former 2016 7th rnd pick of the New England Patriots (#pedigree) who won a ring with the team that year brings the deep threat aspect to the Express. He ran a 4.49 40 at his pro day back in 2016. He’s a guy who can turn a 12yd catch into a 60yd touchdown with ease. Though he’s a little bit deeper on the depth chart I think he’ll definitely be called upon by coach Bobby Blizzard to stretch the field at times this season.
6’3” 215lb. former Univ. of Indianapolis standout Reece Horn is a guy who has a tremendous backstory. Too much to write here but if you get a chance definitely go and research it. He’s deep on the depth chart but that’s never stopped him before as his entire story is based on being an underdog. Don’t be surprised if he works his way up the depth chart as the season goes along.
The last guy on the depth chart is 5’11” 180lb. Dontez Byrd who started his college career at hometown Louisville before transferring to Tennessee Tech. He averaged 12.9 YPC and 91.2 YPG for the Golden Eagles. This year with the Express I expect him to be mostly a special teams player and potential PR but is another guy that can get chunks of yards if called upon in the passing game. Coach Bobby Blizzard has a lot to work with here with what I think is one of if not the deepest and most talented receiver groups in the league. Get ready air traffic controllers because the Express will be airing it out all season long!