TAMPA — Storm supporters might need a program to keep up with all the personnel changes from last year's ArenaBowl team. But more than a few names will ring a bell.
"It's definitely a little weird seeing all of these guys in the locker room again," former USF receiver Amarri Jackson said. "But it feels great because it's like home."
Six former Bulls will dot the active roster tonight when the Storm (1-1) takes on Cleveland (1-0) in its home opener. Nine players, including two currently injured, played high school football in the bay area.
"It's a huge bonus for us to have a program like USF right up the road from us," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "They have a top-notch program, and we're expecting all those guys to be big contributors this season."
With the way the Storm's roster has taken shape this season, you half expect to see former USF coach Jim Leavitt stomping up and down the sideline or Rocky the Bull to come charging onto the field.
"It's pretty cool," said receiver Huey Whittaker, another former Bull and a Hernando High graduate. "It feels like family, and it's made it easier to develop a sense of team early on in the season."
Jackson, who has been in Buccaneers camp twice and played last season in the Canadian Football League, said he decided to give the Arena League a try after talking with some former Bulls who already had signed with the Storm.
"(Jarriet) Buie and (Richard) Clebert were already there, and after talking with them about it, I wanted to give it a shot," he said. "There's a bond that forms when you're a Bull, and that has carried over into our lives after (USF football)."
Whittaker said stocking the roster with USF talent also is a good move for the Storm in terms of raising the team's profile with local fans.
"I think bringing in (USF players) was a big part in the way ownership and management put things together," he said. "The talent is there, and so making a push for guys from the area helps attract fans."
The USF connection also has helped make players not from the bay area feel comfortable with their new surroundings.
"We've been able to show them around town and the places to go and not to go," Jackson said. "So that, too, has helped us all form a bond with them."
Transactions: As anticipated, fullback Terrance Royal, a standout at Wharton High and USF, signed Thursday. To make room for last season's starting fullback, quarterback B.J. Hall was released. He did not see action after signing with the team March 14. Tampa Bay also placed defensive lineman Cedrick Fisher on injured reserve.