Former college stars find home in the AAF
It can be a confusing time when former college football stars get cut from NFL teams. More often than not, its the first time they have heard "no" to playing on a football team.
"It hurt me but really I just wanted to keep playing and do something." Former Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning said.
Lanning was cut by the Dallas Cowboys following training camp and was not able to find a roster spot elsewhere in the NFL afterwards.
"I didn't really know what was going to happen." Lanning said via a Facetime interview. "That's the first time in my life I've ever been told no. I knew I had to keep my options open."
Enter the Alliance of American Football.
In March of 2018, CEO Charlie Ebersol announced that he was starting a new eight-team football league that would start the weekend after the Super Bowl. It's in this league that Lanning has found a home, with the San Antonio Commanders.
"For being a brand new league and starting up, I think they are doing the best that they can do." Lanning said.
Lanning has long had the reputation of being a quarterback who converted to linebacker. He's looking to shed that reputation with this new opportunity.
"I would like to just be known as the linebacker sometimes." Lanning said. "In my situation you know you just need some more film or just another chance for someone to look at you and this is a great opportunity for that to happen."
Outside of Lanning, other players who used to shine on Iowa's gridirons have landed in the AAF.
Former UNI defensive end and Buck Buchanan Award winner Karter Schult signed with the San Antonio Stallions. Akrum Wadley, who was a star running back for the Iowa Hawkeyes chose to sign with the Atlanta Legends. Both players had gotten cut from NFL training camps.
"In my experience its very similar to the NFL style of training camp." Schult said. There's tons of great college players and only about one or two percent make it to the NFL. The other guys don't have an outlet besides the CFL (Canadian Football League) and I think this league is a great opportunity for that second chance."
"I got a call from a CFL team so I thought this is my last resort." Akrum Wadley said. " going to see what the CFL is about for a year and then boom they called me out of nowhere."
Like Lanning, Schult and Wadley are hoping to make the most of their opportunity.
"It's all motivation for me because the one thing I know for a fact is I'm good enough." Wadley said. "I'm never quitting because this is what I do."
"It's exactly what I think football has needed." Schult said. "It doesn't compete with the NFL but its an opportunity to try and get back to the NFL."