AAFL and Team Michigan Conduct Inaugural Draft
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on OurSportsCentral.com, Sunday, January 27, 2008
The new All American Football League held its inaugural player draft yesterday (January 26). Many familiar names from college football were involved, including a former Heisman Trophy winner.
But these were not your typical college football players. Most of them had been out of college for a number of years and some had even played in the NFL, CFL and the Arena Football League. In order to qualify for the AAFL Draft, they had to attend one of the many combines the League conducted over the last several months and they had to have signed an AAFL Draft Eligible Player Agreement with the League. They also had to have their college degrees.
I attended a draft party put on by Team Michigan, which was held at the Eagle Crest Convention Center in Ypsilanti, just east of Ann Arbor. There was a large stage containing a podium and a large Team Michigan banner. On both sides of the stage were huge screens showing live coverage of a draft selection show originating from Atlanta. Smaller television screens were set up around the room. The broadcast was also available live on the Internet through the AAFL web site.
In front of the stage was a small round table with three football helmets, a white helmet with the AAFL logo and two blue helmets with the Team Michigan logo. The room was filled with fans and media who were there for this momentous event in League history.
Things kicked off at noon with a one-hour pre-draft show. Each of the six AAFL teams held similar draft parties in their respective states.
At one o'clock the actual draft got under way. Team Arkansas had the first selection in the draft followed by Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Michigan and finally Alabama. The order of the draft was randomly determined by the League last month. Teams had just four minutes to make a selection in the first two rounds, three minutes in the rounds three and four and two minutes in the remaining rounds.
There were a total of 50 rounds in the AAFL Draft. In each round, the selection order reversed, meaning that Team Michigan, who had the fifth pick in the first round, got the second pick in the second round, the fifth pick in the third round, the second pick in the fourth round, and so on.
With the first overall pick, Team Arkansas selected OL Zarah Yisrael from Troy. Next, Team Tennessee selected QB Bryan Randall from Virginia Tech. Team Texas then selected QB Eric Crouch, the 2001 Heisman Trophy winner from Nebraska, with the third overall selection.
The next two rounds also saw quarterbacks taken. Team Florida picked QB Eric Kresser from Marshall with the fourth pick and Team Michigan selected QB David Koral from UCLA with the number five pick. The first round ended in less than 30 minutes when Team Alabama selected OL Josh Sewell from Nebraska with the sixth overall pick.
Team Michigan's other selections in the top five rounds included DL Rodney Wormley from Temple in the second round, RB Gerome Castleberry from Eastern Central in the third round, WR Kevin Youngblood from Clemson in the fourth round and OL Sameeh McDonald from Rutgers in the fifth round.
The majority of players selected by each team in the later rounds came from a list of protected players that each team put together based on the fact that they played in the team's home state or in protected surrounding states.
Other notable players selected during the draft include QB Clint Stoerner, who played in the Arena Football League from 2005-2007, by Team Arkansas in Round 14, RB Rod Smart, the former "He Hate Me" from the 2001 XFL, by Team Tennessee in Round 36 and LB Todd Delamielleure, son of NFL Hall of Famer Joe Delamielleure, by Team Arkansas in Round 43.
At three o'clock, the broadcast ended in the conference room, even though the draft was not over. It continued, however, for everyone who was watching on the Internet. To see a complete list of all 300 players selected in the 2008 AAFL Draft, go to www.aafl.com.
There will also be a supplemental draft on Saturday, February 16. Teams will be able to select an additional 10 players who, for whatever reason, were not able to be included in yesterday's draft.
POSTSCRIPT: Unfortunately, the All American Football League never took to the field. Just weeks before players were to report to their respective training camps, the league called off the season due to financial troubles. There was talk that the AAFL would kick off the following year, but that too never happened. The league web site remained up for a couple of years, but eventually, that disappeared as well.