Trio of pass catchers newly signed to contracts includes veteran Antwun Williams
It’s no secret that indoor football is a pass-heavy game. In 2013, over 88% of the yardage in the PIFL was gained through the air. The Richmond Raiders are preparing for another aerial onslaught in 2014, with the addition of three more wide receivers to the roster. Three year veteran Antwun Williams leads the trio, with indoor rookies Derrick Hector and Deonte Gist coming into training camp with impressive collegiate resumes that indicate they’ll be able to compete for significant playing time.
Antwun Williams (Virginia State) will return for his fourth season with the Raiders. In 2013, he had over 400 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns while also spending a significant amount of time playing jack linebacker. The two-way player set a career high with 13 touchdowns in 2012 and led the team with seven catches and three scores in the playoff win against Louisiana. Raiders head coach James Fuller believes that Williams’ experience on both sides of the ball will be instrumental heading into 2014. “Having Antwun back is like having another coach on the field, someone with a lot of experience that can help the younger players understand the game. He is also a player that can play the linebacker spot and give us more depth at wide receiver,” he stated.
Derrick Hector (Morehouse) led the Tigers his junior and senior seasons in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He also shared kick return duties. Hector was a two time All-Conference performer and he was selected for the HBCU All-Star Bowl following his senior campaign. At 6’4”, Hector showed the ability to make tough catches and win jump balls; two qualities that Fuller expects to serve him well in the indoor game. “He’s a very talented big body wide receiver, and that’s the first thing that I liked about him, but when you look at him more all the little things stand out,” he said. “He has the ability to drop his hips in routes, has great explosion and can run for a big guy. His size and speed alone can make him a match up problem for DB’s, but he has to learn the game. The good thing is he is young and hungry and feels like he has a lot to prove.”
Deonte Gist (Tusculum) was a four-year starter and left the program as one of the top receivers in Pioneers history. He finished second in career receiving yards, first in 100 yard games, and first in kick return yards and all-purpose yards. Gist was a two time All-American and a multiple all-conference first teamer. “He’s a well rounded receiver who did a lot in college, can return kicks, and play the slot as well as outside,” Fuller commented. Gist averaged over 29 yards per return in college, showing a combination of speed and elusiveness. “He is fundamentally sound, has great change of direction and speed. The one thing that really impressed me was he made people miss tackles in small spaces, which is key in the indoor game,” Fuller continued.
Williams, Hector, and Gist will bring different skill sets to Coach Fuller’s offense, which benefits from having diverse types of receivers. Of course, there’s only one football, which means that during training camp, a competitive battle is sure to be waged between all those who want to be the main target. “I think we have a good mix of size and speed, vets and rookies, but there is a reason why they are all here,” Fuller said. “They all can do something different, we do not have a cookie cutter receiving core, which makes it very exciting as a coach and someone who calls the offense. The one thing I can say about all of them, even the vets, is they are all hungry and feel they have something to prove in one way or another which always makes for a competitive and productive camp.”
Training camp will begin in early March, and the Raiders will begin the season on the road March 30 against the Trenton Freedom.
2014 season and group event tickets are now on sale on the Raiders’ website, www.RichmondRaidersProFootball.com, and the Raiders’ ticket hotline at 804-780-0430. The 2014 home opener will be April 12 in a Championship Game rematch against the Alabama Hammers. Season tickets start at $35, and groups can call the hotline to get customized event packages and prices. 2014 will mark the Raiders’ fifth season of professional indoor football in the Richmond Coliseum, and third in the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL). The team has reached the league’s championship game in each of the last two seasons and has the league’s best home record (13-1) over that span.
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