Knights charge out of open tryouts confident with new players

Spinnaker

The Jacksonville Knights football team is excited about the outcome of the open tryouts they held July 31 at Plantation Park in Julington Creek, Fla., said Knights’ founder and Executive Director Jeremy McDonald.

The Knights hoped to dip into a larger talent pool and find or attract more players by holding their open tryouts a little more south than where the team plays their home games at Hodges Stadium.

“Basically for this season what we wanted to try to do was to expand our coverage as far as where we are getting players from, which is why we decided to go down to St. Augustine,” said McDonald. “It worked out well.”

The Knights believe they had a good turnout in the quality of the players that came out, which included players from Jacksonville, St. Augustine and even nine players from the Gainesville area.

“It went pretty good,” McDonald said. “Overall it wasn’t a huge tryout as far as numbers go.”

The Knights felt like the quality of players that came out was very strong. Once McDonald and his coaching staff sat down and really looked at what they had, they feel like they got some players that could really impact the team in a good way.

Football teams are always looking to improve their roster according to McDonald. However, it could be hard to do for a team that went 10-3 last season, won the NFC North and was just one game away from playing in the Alliance Bowl Championship.

McDonald and the Knights are especially excited about two players who came over from Gainesville and played college football for the University of Florida. Former Gators running back Anthony Gay and converted offensive lineman Anthony Barr are expected to be contributors for the Knights immediately.

Gay, who is going to play running back for the Knights, played a couple of different positions with UF. He is a specialist player. He ran 4:43 40-yard dash at the tryouts for the Knights. They are excited about what he brings to the table according to Knight’s Head Coach Martin Berry.

“He’s a good solid kid,” Berry said. “He had a great 40. He looks like he’s going to be a good contributor to this football team this year.”

Barr came to UF as a nose tackle but was moved to the offensive line after spending time there. He is very strong and moves very well, McDonald said.

“Anthony is going to be a good specimen,” Berry said. “The man has got good feet and has got good presence about himself on the field.”

Berry feels that Barr will fit in well with the Knight’s current offensive line due to the style of offense that the Knights want to run.

“I think he is going to be another great asset to the team,” Berry said. “Especially with the offensive line because with the offense we are going to be running it fits his mold really well. We’re going to be smash mouth, right dead at you, and that kid is going to be a good asset for us.”

The Knights are not done with their search for new talent, yet. In fact, they kept everyone from the open try out for now. They are doing off-season conditioning and want to wait to see if they can develop anyone before they cut them.

“At this point in time, we don’t cut,” McDonald said. “At the end of September, we’ll do a mini camp. The mini camp is kind of where we are going to tell some guys, you should go work on x, y and z and come back next year.”

In addition to the mini camp, the Knights plan to hold final tryouts for the team at Hodges Stadium Sept. 25.  The Knights recently inked a two-year contract extension with UNF which will allow the Knights to continue to play their home games at Hodges Stadium. The contract will run through the 2011-2012 season.

For more information on the Jacksonville Knights, visit jacksonvilleknights.org.