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Sharks Add Ball-Hawk Tanner Varner in Free Agency

November 7, 2012 - Arena Football League (AFL) Jacksonville Sharks

JACKSONVILLE - The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks added another playmaker to the team's defense of the future on Wednesday, announcing that defensive back Tanner Varner has been assigned to the Jacksonville roster on a two-year contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Tanner is a ball-hawking defensive back who has 16 interceptions in his three-year AFL career," Sharks Head Coach Les Moss said. "He's a very heady and aggressive player, and we're glad to have him."

The 28-year-old Varner has suited up for three different teams over the course of his AFL career, last playing for the San Jose SaberCats in 2012. Varner made 12 starts for San Jose last season, ranking third on the team with 63 total tackles (48 solo) and notching three interceptions. Varner also recorded five pass breakups, a pair of sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Varner was originally assigned to the Kansas City Command, but was then traded to San Jose before appearing in a game with Kansas City.

Before joining the SaberCats, Varner spent the 2011 season with the Philadelphia Soul, where he recorded 45 total tackles, five interceptions and two interception return touchdowns despite playing in just seven games with the team. Varner also found the end zone on special teams, returned an onside kick attempt for a touchdown in a game against the Tampa Bay Storm.

Varner's first AFL season came with the Iowa Barnstormers in 2010, when he set an all-time AFL rookie record with 129.5 total tackles. Varner also hauled in eight interceptions for the Barnstormers, ranking fourth in the league in that category. He returned two of those interceptions for scores and also forced a fumble.

2010 was actually Varner's third season with Iowa, as he played for the Barnstormers in both 2008 and 2009 when the team was a member of af2. He broke into arena football with the Arkansas Twisters in 2007, totaling 294 tackles, 26 interceptions and six forced fumbles in his three seasons in af2.

Varner completed his collegiate career at Northern Iowa, where he posted 85.5 tackles and three interceptions as a senior in 2005. He was a first team All-Gateway Conference selection that year, and was named his team's most valuable defensive player. Varner is a native of Ottumwa, Iowa.

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