The Alliance of American Football (AAF) has made it’s presence felt on the American sports landscape. The upstart league is just two weeks into it’s debut season but it’s already made headlines, created solid television ratings, and is a constant trend on social media. One main reason why the league has achieved some success in a short amount of time is the fact that they are not directly competing with the National Football League. Instead, the AAF’s mission is to help develop players to be better prepared for the demands of the NFL. The AAF has done it’s homework by bringing in plenty of talent, big name coaches, and some big name executives to get this league off the ground.
Among the league’s eight franchises are plenty of players with ties to Chicagoland. Many played their college ball at schools that call the Chicago-area home, and some have even spent time with the Chicago Bears. Here are the players that are now applying their trade in the AAF…..
Will Sutton, DT-
After starring at Arizona State, the Bears selected Sutton with the 82nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played for the Bears from 2014 to 2016 and followed that up with stints with the Minnesota Vikings (2017), and San Francisco 49ers (2018). He posted 60 career tackles in the NFL, and now he’s living a homecoming of sorts with the Hotshots. In two games in the AAF Sutton has posted seven tackles, one sack, and a couple of tackles for loss.
Nyles Morgan, LB-
From 2014 to 2017 Morgan was a force on the defense of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. During his time in South Bend Morgan collected 243 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. He went undrafted in the 2018 draft, but the Bears did give him a chance during last summer’s minicamps. Morgan signed onto the AAF after failing to find a roster spot with the Bears, and thus far he’s posted three tackles.
Tarean Folston, RB-
A former Notre Dame alum in his own right, Folston seemed destined for NFL stardom after registering 2,003 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns from 2013 to 2017. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough to get selected in the 2017 NFL Draft and never really caught on with the league. Now with the Legends, Folston has yet to find the end zone but he’s second on the team in rushing (18 carries, 52 yards) and has another 13 yards receiving.
Cody Riggs, CB-
He began his college career at Florida but finished at Notre Dame in which he totaled 37 tackles along with an interception, three pass deflections, and a forced fumble for Brian Kelly’s squad in 2014. He played for the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2015 to 2017 and has 14 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two deflected passes in the NFL. Riggs has yet to see the field with the Apollos but he’ll be ready when his chance comes. Joining him is former Notre Dame punter Ben Turk who’s already averaging 43.2 yards per punt for Steve Spurrier’s team.
Joel Bouagnon, RB-
One of the most productive backs during the Rod Carey era at Northern Illinois, the 23-year-old rushed for 2,912 yards, 31 touchdowns, and averaged an outstanding 8.4 yards per carry in a Huskies uniform. His combination of both speed and strength made him hard to tackle at the collegiate level. Despite his accomplishments, however, Bouagnon bounced around the training camps of the Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and the New York Jets from 2017 to 2018 without landing a roster spot. But now he leads the Stallions in rushing (27 carries, 109 yards, 4.0 average) and has been a consistent player for them despite the fact that the team is currently 0-2.
Greer Martini, LB-
Another Golden Domer now playing in the AAF, Martini played alongside Nyles Morgan from 2014 to 2017. His own numbers for the Irish were solid as he made 190 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss along with five sacks and an interception. He unsuccessfully tried to latch on with the Green Bay Packers last year, and this year he’s the Stallions third leading tackler (9).
Evan Rodriguez, TE/FB-
The former Temple product was a fourth round pick of the Bears in 2012. Injuries, and some slight off-field issues, limited him to just one season at Halas Hall. But he found other opportunities with the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next few seasons. His ability to play two positions, and his skills as a blocker, runner, and pass catcher will serve the Commanders offense -coached by pro-style guru Mike Riley- well.
Scott Daly, LS-
Here’s another Notre Dame player to add to the list…. Now while long snappers usually don’t get much press, Daly is one of the more high profile snappers in the college ranks. That’s because from 2015 to 2016, he handled the snaps for 98 of Justin Yoon’s extra point attempts (Yoon made 94 of them), and 34 of his field goal tries (converted 28 of them). Yoon now holds seven of Notre Dame’s all-time kicking records and ranks in the top ten in 18 others. After an unsuccessful training camp stint with the Dallas Cowboys last year, Daly now handles the long snapping duties for the Commanders who currently sit in second place in the AAF’s Western Conference (1-1).
John Montelus, OL-
The boys up front also don’t get a ton of exposure except when it comes to the NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft. But as another Notre Dame grad, Montelus has played for the one of the better offensive lines in college football over the last few years. Notre Dame has sent many of it’s offensive lineman to the pros in some form or fashion during the Brian Kelly era.