Venom Add Three, Including Local High School Coaches
Loveland, Colo. The Colorado Venom of the National Indoor Football League continued to add to its 21-man active roster Wednesday, Feb. 11, adding three more players, including current Fort Collins High School head football coach Eric Rice (Denver, Colo.) and defensive backs coach Jason McCleary (Newton, Iowa). Former North Dakota State offensive lineman Doug Van Meter (Saint Paul, Minn.) was also among the new additions.
Rice, a veteran of both professional and semi-professional football, played professionally with the Rapid City Red Dogs of the National Indoor Football League (2001-03), the Green Bay Bombers of the now-defunct Indoor Professional Football League (1998) and semi-professionally with the Rocky Mountain Thunder (1999). With the Red Dogs in 2002, Rice was involved both as the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator on the sidelines, as well as middle linebacker on the field. While with the Bombers in 1999, he finished the year second in the IPFL in tackles. The 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker played his collegiate ball at Adams State, earning All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honors at strong safety as a senior in 1996 and All-RMAC honors at defensive end as a sophomore. Rice graduated in 1996 with a degree in exercise physiology and a minor area of study in athletic coaching. Before landing his current position as the head football coach at Fort Collins High School, Rice was the defensive coordinator at New Mexico Highlands University in 2002.
McCleary, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound defensive back, played professionally with the Rapid City Red Dogs of the National Indoor Football League and semi-professionally with the Iowa Barnstormers of Arena Football 2. A football and track & field athlete at the University of Northern Iowa, his Panthers were crowned Gateway Football Conference champions all four years, while accumulating an overall record of 39-12. During his senior campaign, McCleary was named honorable mention All-American and first team All-Gateway Football Conference at defensive back. As a junior, the Newton, Iowa native received honorable mention All-American recognition as a return specialist and second team all-conference at defensive back. Former teammates at Northern Iowa include Kurt Warner (Saint Louis Rams), Dedric Ward (Baltimore Ravens), Kenny Shedd (NY Jets, Oakland Raiders, and Washington Redskins) and Willie Beamon (NY Giants).
I had heard a lot of good things about these two guys from former players and other coaches, said Venom head coach Ron Mondt. They are both very athletic and we are excited to have them as a part of this team. With both coaching experience and NIFL playing experience under their belts, they will be a great help in the leadership aspect of the team, on and off the field.
Also signed on Wednesday, Van Meter, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive lineman, has played semi-professionally with the Fort Collins Stars (2001-02), Duluth Superior Lumberjacks (1999) and Minnesota Monsters (1998), as well as collegiately at North Dakota State University (1990-95). In 2002, the Saint Paul, Minn. native was selected to the Colorado Football Conference All-Star Team as a member of the semi-pro Stars. Under the tutelage of head coach Rocky Hager at North Dakota State, the Bison were crowned Division II National Champions in 1990, as well as four-time conference champions in 1990-91, 1992 and 1994. Van Meter was a two-time Division II All-American selection (1994-95), as well as all-region in 1995 and All-North Central Conference in 1994-95.
I had seen Doug play for a couple of years in the Colorado Football Conference, and he was one of the best linemen in the league, said Venom line coach Scott Darnell. He is everything that you look for in a lineman he has the size and speed and is a very aggressive, smart football player. He will help to solidify what looks to be one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Venom season tickets are on sale now, with prices ranging from $70 to $245 for the complete 7-game home schedule.
For more information regarding season tickets, please call the Colorado Venom front office at 970-206-4889. For information about the NIFL, please visit the league Website at www.NationalIndoorFootballLeage.net.
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