Nashville Venom Season Preview
The Nashville Venom of the Professional Indoor Football League will start their regular season tomorrow with a game against the Alabama Hammers. The team will welcome in new faces along with players from last year's team will be looked to step up more. One familiar face will be quarterback Charles McCullum. In the championship game, McCullum threw for 260 yards and five touchdowns earning the game's most valuable player award. He finished the regular season with 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
"Charles came in and solidified the QB position," said Head Coach Billy Back. "We got him in the middle of the season and he played great. Having him for training camp this year will make us even better."
The offense will be without PIFL Offensive Player of the Year Phillip Barnett. McCullum will rely once again on receiver Jordan Jolly. Jolly led the PIFL in yards receiving and earned himself a spot on the All-PIFL Offensive First Team. Veteran George Murray will also be back. The steady receiver from the University of Cincinnati was the team's third leading receiver in catches and yardage. Taking Barnett's spot will be Zachary Ducker (Cumberland University). Ducker was seldom used last season but like Barnett is extremely athletic.
"Our offense is getting there," said McCullum. "Having Jordan back is great. The dude is open all the time. George being back is a plus too. He knows all the tricks. Zach didn't play much last year but he's had a terrific camp. He will be someone we will look to, to make plays."
Last season, the offensive line gave up 16 sacks which was the least of any team in the PIFL. This year Nashville will have a revamped line as B.J. Taylor is the only returner. Former L.A. Kiss center Harris Bivin will look to anchor the line. Veteran Jeremy Buchanan (Antioch High School) will also be relied heavily upon.
On defense, the Venom should be just as strong as last season. Anchoring the line once again will be nose tackle Walter Thomas. Thomas came to camp in better shape down to 330 lbs. Brian Ellis also returns at end. Ellis had a huge championship game and looks to propel that into a solid 2015 campaign.
"I'm glad to be back," said Thomas. "The atmosphere here is like a family. We won because we are so close. I am looking forward to getting back to business. Last year is over; it's time to make some new memories."
In the secondary, All-PIFL defensive back Corry Stewart (Father Ryan High School) returns. Stewart led the Venom with eight interceptions last season. Also returning is Kenny Veal. Veal played exceptionally well in the playoffs intercepting three passes and returning one for a touchdown. Jaime Graham (Vanderbilt/Whites Creek) is back from a foot injury. Also Kenny Walton (Lebanon High School) will see a lot of action.
"Our secondary will be great, there is a lot of completion out here," said Stewart. "I may be just as good as or even better than last year. I am ready to get out there and challenge for one of the four spots."
The kicking game is back into the capable leg of Christian Reed. Reed will look to build on a strong first season.
Images from this story
Nashville Venom Celebrate 2014 Title
Nashville Venom's Charles McCullum
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Professional Indoor Football League Stories from March 26, 2015
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