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Firebirds Expand Roster by Six

December 3, 2002 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Albany/Indiana Firebirds News Release

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League have added six players to their off-season roster. Among the six additions are wide receiver/defensive backs Kenny Christian, Frank Cutolo, Tim Dodge, Terrence Blackwell and full back/linebackers Roger Wilson and Thadd Buttone.

Christian (6-1, 198) spent last season with the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe after being allocated by the Chicago Bears for the 2002 season. In 2002 with Berlin, Christian was second on the team in receptions (32) and receiving yards (390) and was third in touchdowns (4). He signed with the Bears at the beginning of the 2002 free agency signing period, but was released prior to the start of the season.

Christian ranks third on Eastern Michigan's career receptions list (124) and ninth in career receiving yards (1,169).. He had an impressive senior season, totaling 808 yards, three touchdowns and set an EMU single-season record for receptions with 78 en route to being named the team's offensive MVP. He finished that season as the nation's third-leading receiver while earning second-team All-Mid American Conference honors.

Cutolo (5-10, 181) was a four-year letterman at Eastern Illinois University where he ranks fourth on the schools all-time list with 129 catches for 2,181 yards and 16 touchdowns. Cutolo was also a dangerous return man for the Panthers, returning 79 punts for 795 yards and four touchdowns. During his senior season, he gained a school-record 239 receiving yards in a win over Tennessee State.

In 2002 Cutolo attended training camp with the NFL's New Orleans Saints.

Dodge (5-11, 180) was a two-sport athlete out of the University of Iowa, participating on both the football and track teams. Dodge not only brings speed to the Firebirds, but he also has experience on both sides of the ball. He was an all-purpose player for the Hawkeyes, finding time as a wide receiver, defensive back, and return specialist.

He finished his collegiate career with 16 receptions for 167 yards on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, he recorded 65 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions and three fumble recoveries. As a return specialist, Dodge gained 881 yards on 37 kickoff returns and 90 yards on eight punt returns, including one touchdown.

As a member of the Hawkeye track team, Dodge ran the 60-meter dash and 100 meter-dash. He was also a member of the 4X100-meter relay team and 4X400-meter relay team, which won the Big Ten outdoor title in 1999. He was named a first-team All-American for his efforts on the track during his senior year.

Blackwell (6-0, 200) spent the first two years of his college career at Oregon State University where he established himself as a long-ball threat before transferring to Southern University after his sophomore year. In addition to his football prowess at Southern, Blackwell was a Conference finalist in the 55-meter dash and 100-meter dash for the Jaguar's track team.

Roger Wilson (6-2, 250) joins the Firebirds after most recently playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. He signed with the Blue Bombers as a free agent prior to the start of the 2001 season.

Wilson gained the reputation as a fierce defender while playing defensive end at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. For his collegiate career, Wilson recorded 170 tackles (63 TFL) and 36 sacks, which ties the record for most career sacks in school history. He was a Second-Team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West All-Star in 1998 and 1999 and a First-Team All-PSAC West All-Star in 2000.

Buttone (6-0, 257) had a solid senior season at Troy State (Ala.) where he gained 213 yards on the ground and rushed for one touchdown. He also had 13 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns on his way to being named 1st Team All Atlantic Sun Conference. He set a single-game school record scoring four touchdowns in a win over Tennessee State. In his collegiate career, Buttone carried the ball 218 times for 1,056 yards and recorded five rushing touchdowns.

Buttone attended training camp with the NFL's Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins in 2001 after entering the league as an undrafted rookie free agent.

The 2003 season marks the historic debut of the AFL on NBC. The network will broadcast 71 games next season, including all playoff games and ArenaBowl XVII on June 22. The Firebirds kick off the 2003 regular season on Sunday, February 2nd on the road against the Detroit Fury. The Birds home opener is slated for Sunday, February, 16th versus the Chicago Rush live on NBC Sports. Firebirds' season tickets for the 2003 season are on sale now and can be purchased by calling a Firebirds' ticket representative at 317.472.8080. Firebirds merchandise is also available at Home Court Gift Shop. For merchandise information, please call 317.917.2755.

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