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Destroyers sign top free agents

October 21, 2004 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Columbus Destroyers News Release

COLUMBUS, OH – The Columbus Destroyers have added five of the Arena Football League’s most sought-after free agents to their offseason roster as preparations for the 2005 season continue. The club has announced the signing of defensive specialist Donvetis Franklin, offensive specialist Damien Groce, quarterback Chad Salisbury and a pair of offensive/defensive linemen in Chris Janek and Curtis Eason.

“This is a strong group of players who we feel are just now entering the prime of their careers,” said General Manager and Head Coach Chris Spielman. “Every one of these players will add tremendous depth to our football team and we are confident that we have brought in a great group of guys who will not only help us win now, but will also lay a solid foundation for us to be successful in the future.”

Franklin (5-11, 200, Michigan State), who is entering his fourth season in the AFL, comes to Columbus after establishing himself as one of the top defensive players in the league during his three seasons with the New York Dragons. Franklin has finished in the top four in total tackles throughout the league for the past three seasons, including leading the league in defensive stops with 93.5 in 2003.

Last season Franklin was New York’s leading tackler for the third consecutive season after recording 84.5, which was good for fourth in the AFL. His career totals include 268.5 tackles, 13 interceptions and 54 pass deflections.

Groce (5-10, 195, Iowa State) emerged as the top playmaker for the Carolina Cobras last season, setting career-highs in receptions (73), receiving yards (881), receiving touchdowns (19), total touchdowns (21) and points scored (126). Groce, who was Carolina’s team MVP in 2004, also led the team on special teams, returning 50 kicks for 903 yards before finishing the season with 1,836 all purpose yards.

Groce began his career with the Los Angeles Avengers in 2000 before spending two seasons with the New York Dragons (2002-2003).

Salisbury (6-6, 240, Buffalo) joins the Destroyers after spending the past two seasons as a member of the Chicago Rush where he completed 106 of 161 pass attempts for 1,115 yards and 21 touchdowns in 27 games played. Last season Salisbury completed 62.7 percent of his pass attempts and did not throw an interception all year.

Salisbury began his AFL career with the New England Sea Wolves in 2000 before spending two years with the Toronto Phantoms (2001-2002). Despite missing nearly half of the 2002 season to injury, Salisbury threw for 3,372 yards and 51 touchdowns in only 16 total games with Toronto.

Both Janek and Eason bring extensive AFL experience to the Destroyers’ offensive and defensive line. Janek (6-4, 300, Wisconsin), a four-year veteran, joins the Destroyers after spending the 2004 season with the Indiana Firebirds. Prior to arriving in Indiana, Janek recorded a career-high 11.5 tackles (11 solo) in 2003 as a member of the Colorado Crush. He began his career with the Milwaukee Mustangs in 2001 before spending one season with the New Jersey Gladiators.

Eason (6-2, 290, East Tennessee State) has five years of AFL service under his belt, having most recently spent the past two seasons on the offensive and defensive line for the Detroit Fury. Last season, Eason had a career-year, leading all Fury linemen with 28.5 total tackles, which was a personal best. Eason has also made strides on the offensive side of the ball, becoming a very capable receiver as a tight end. Last year Eason had four catches for 37 yards and a career-high two receiving touchdowns. His career totals include 94.5 total tackles 19.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and one interception. For his career offensively, Eason has ten catches for 97 yards and three touchdowns. Eason began his AFL career with the Orlando Predators, spending three seasons with the club from 2000-2003.

The Destroyers held an open-player tryout on October 16 which proved to be a success for the team as well as the many aspiring athletes. Of the nearly 100 participants, seven prospective players have been invited by Spielman and his staff to participate in an invitational only tryout next month.

Auditions for the BOMBSHELLS, the Destroyers’ official dance team will begin on Tuesday, November 2 at Nationwide Arena. For more information, visit www.ColumbusDestroyers.com. The Destroyers, in conjunction with Nike, will unveil a new logo along with modified uniforms for the 2005 season in November. Columbus Destroyers season tickets for the 2005 season are now available by calling (614) 246-HITS or by visiting www.ColumbusDestroyers.com.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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