Local Stars Harrell, Addison Anchor Storm

Mar 22, 2015 Bryan Burns

As a senior quarterback at Spoto High School in Riverview (2010), Nick Addison completed over 50 percent of his passes and tossed 24 touchdowns.

Addison was also picked off 11 times.

During those moments of imperfection, Addision grew as a football player.

Make a mistake, learn from it, forget it and move forward to the next play; the process was second nature to Addison.

It served him well in high school.

It continues to have value as a professional.

Addison will line up on the other side of the ball as a defensive back for the Tampa Bay Storm this season. The first-year arena player knows he’s going to get burnt at some point this year in the pass-happy AFL where defensive backs are put on an island and challenged on nearly every play.

The key is how one recovers from being beat.

“Just like a quarterback throwing an interception, me playing quarterback in high school, you’re going to mess up,” Addison said. “Nobody’s perfect in this world. As far as the mess ups, the opponent scoring touchdowns, as long as they don’t win, that’s all I care about.

“That’s the main focus.”

Addison said his goal going into any game is to shut down the opposition, but he realizes that might not be possible in the quick-strike AFL. It takes a mentally strong defensive back to put prior mistakes in the rear-view mirror focus on the upcoming play.

“If I can limit them scoring by just not giving up as many touchdowns, that’s just fine with me,” Addison said. “But my goal is not to let up any touchdowns because that’s the type of guy I am. I like perfection. I work towards that. Just like at quarterback, you forget about the mistakes, just go back out and keep playing.”

Fellow Storm defensive back James Harrell takes a bend but don’t break approach to being a successful pass defender in the AFL.

“I think in this league, if you get five stops, you’ve got a chance to win,” Harrell said. “That’s five stops out of the 14, 15 possessions you face a game. This season, we’re trying to go for seven stops a game.”

Harrell is another local product having competed for Tampa’s Sickles and Plant high schools. Entering his third season with the Storm, Harrell is an AFL veteran who played in five games his rookie season and 13 a year ago.

He had five interceptions and 64 tackles in 2014.

“You come out of college, in the CFL, NFL, you pride yourself on not getting scored on,” Harrell said. “You might get scored on three or four times in a season. You come here, it’s three or four times a game, hopefully not, but it’s different. You’ve got to keep playing. You’ve just got to make sure you’re making plays. You get scored on twice, hopefully you can get one interception the next play.”

First-year Storm defensive backs coach Michael Feagin likes what both Addison and Harrell have shown during preseason camp. The Storm open the regular season on March 27 against the Cleveland Gladiators at Amalie Arena.

“From what I’ve seen so far, Harrell’s definitely shown a lot of leadership,” said Feagin, a former Storm player making his AFL coaching debut this season. “We have a young group on the back end, so he’s shown a lot of leadership and, with Addison, he’s young. He’s like a sponge. Anything those guys tell him, he’s soaking it in, which makes it real easy for us to adjust on the back end.”

The Storm made a concerted effort in the offseason to acquire bigger, stronger, more physical defensive backs, Addison, at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds being one. With receivers in the AFL getting taller – it seems 6-foot-4 is the norm currently – the Storm would like to negate that height advantage with equally tall DBs that can play more man coverage than the zone the team employed the majority of the 2014 season.

“That’s the thing, anybody can run zone,” Feagin said. “All you have to do is go to a spot. But when you’re running man, that puts more pressure on the quarterback. We’re going to play a little man and a little zone. We’re going to mix it in, but we’re not going to be set on just one thing.”

Heading into the 2015 season, one in which Tampa Bay will try to get back into the postseason after missing out in 2014, the Storm feel extremely confident about their defensive backfield, anchored by a pair of local, ball-hawking dynamos.  

“Lot of leadership, lots of character back there, but also, we’ve got a lot of vets back there too,” Harrell said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys from last year back and some young guys like Nick, who’s a great athlete.

“It should be a fun season. I can’t wait to get after it.”