TAMPA — Storm fans would be wise to locate a program before Tampa Bay kicks off the Arena Football League season tonight at Cleveland. The team will again be in the familiar blue and gold but a roster will come in handy.
"There's a lot of new faces," Storm linebacker Dexter Jackson said. "But everyone is competing hard and coming together. I like what we have going on."
The Storm's current 24-man roster features just four players from last year — John Brown, Kendrick Ings, Cortez Stubbs and Dallas Jackson. But considering the team limped to a franchise-worst 2-14 in 2016, a major overhaul seemed inevitable.
Even though the vast majority are new to the Storm, they share some previous connections.
"We wanted to put together guys who have played together and co-mingled together," new Storm coach Ron James said. "And I've coached some of these guys too. I think that has helped create a synergy here."
Receiver Joe Hills, last season's Offensive Player of the Year with Jacksonville, rejoins the Storm, as does quarterback Randy Hippeard who was with Orlando. They were together on the Storm in 2013-14. In a league where scoreboards light up like pinball machines, no two players will stand out more than this duo.
"To have that 1-2 punch in Randy and Joe is just phenomenal," James said. "They are going to be one of the best combos in the league."
James has also been pleased with the defensive front's play during training camp with linemen Caesar Rayford, Antron Dillon and former NFL player Jordan Miller.
Leading the team will be James, who has 30 years of coaching experience, including eight as an indoor head coach. He led Portland last season and earned coach of the year honors in 2012 with Utah.