TAMPA — Few names carry as much weight in the Storm history books as Lawrence Samuels.
On Thursday, another chapter began.
The Storm named Samuels, one of the greatest players in Arena Football League history, the organization's sixth head coach. Samuels played 15 seasons for the Storm and has been an assistant the past two years.
"I was confident going in, but it was a vigorous interview process and you never know," said Samuels, 43. "But I believed I was qualified for the job."
Samuels had been the team's offensive coordinator the past two seasons under Dave Ewart, who was let go after a first-round playoff loss. Samuels has also spent time as wide receivers coach for Central State and his alma mater, West Alabama.
"Lawrence has been a staple of the Storm franchise since joining the team in 1994," Storm president Derrick Brooks said. "We believe that he is ready to make the next step and take the reins as the team's head coach."
Samuels was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame in August. A wideout and linebacker, he finished as the franchise leader in receptions (967), receiving yards (11,078), receiving touchdowns (160), points (1,076), fumble recoveries (32), forced fumbles (20) and tackles (455.5).
Samuels said his first priority will be maintaining core talent, mentioning All-Arena wideout Joe Hills, quarterback Adrian McPherson and defensive lineman Rodney Beamon.
"The last couple of years we haven't had a solid nucleus and I want to make those guys the building blocks," Samuels said. "We have some tools to work with, and I am very excited about this opportunity."