TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm is pleased to announce that it has acquired nine players through the League’s offseason assignment process last week. The team acquired quarterbacks Randy Hippeard and Pete Thomas, offensive linemen Justin McCray and J.J. Unga, defensive linemen Monte Lewis, Caesar Rayford and Marcus Pittman, and defensive backs Trey Wolfe and Emmanuel Cook.
Hippeard (6-foot-3, 215 lbs., Virginia-Wise) returns to the Storm after spending the past two seasons with the Orlando Predators. The four-year veteran started in 11-of-12 games for the Predators in 2016, putting up MVP-like numbers prior to going down with injury. A native of Stafford, Virginia, Hippeard completed 236-of-360 passes for 2,967 yards, 65 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Thomas (6-foot-5, 235 lbs., Louisiana-Monroe) enters his second season in the AFL and first with the Storm. The San Diego native spent his rookie season with the L.A. KISS, starting in 6-of-12 games. He completed 167-of-295 passes for 2,086 yards, 43 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed 14 times for two scores on the ground.
McCray (6-foot-3, 315 lbs., Central Florida) begins his second season in the AFL after spending his rookie year with the Orlando Predators. The former UCF Knight started in 14-of-14 games for Orlando, seeing action on the offensive line and at the fullback position.
Unga (6-foot-6, 320 lbs., Midwestern State) enters his first season with the Storm and second in the AFL. He started in 3-of-4 games with the KISS in 2016 on the offensive line. Unga began his professional career in 2013 as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He also spent time with the Buffalo Bills.
Lewis (6-foot-4, 265 lbs., Jacksonville State) enters his third season in the AFL and first in the blue and gold. The Abbeville, Alabama native started in 6-of-10 games for the Orlando Predators in 2016, recording 7.0 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss and two blocked kicks. Lewis began his professional career in 2012 with the Washington Redskins. He also spent time with the Ottawa REDBLACKS of the Canadian Football League.
Rayford (6-foot-7, 275 lbs., Washington) enters his seventh season in the AFL and his first with the Storm. The six-year veteran started in 5-of-5 games for the KISS in 2016 and recorded 1.5 tackles, a half tackle for loss and a pass breakup. The Spanaway, Washington native began his AFL career in 2010 with the Utah Blaze. He began his professional career in 2008 with the B.C. Lions. Rayford spent the 2013 season with the Dallas Cowboys.
Pittman (6-foot-5, 290 lbs., Troy) enters his eighth season in the AFL and first in a Storm uniform. Pittman spent the 2016 season with the L.A. KISS after previously spending his first five AFL seasons with the Arizona Rattlers. A three-time ArenaBowl champion (2012-14) with the Rattlers, Pittman brings reliability and intensity to the defensive line. Last season, Pittman started in 7-of-10 games for the KISS, recording 13.0 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries, a pass breakup and a blocked kick.
Wolfe (5-foot-11, 193 lbs., Fort Valley State) joins the Storm for his second season in the AFL. Wolfe spent his rookie season with the L.A. KISS in 2016, starting in his only appearance. The former Fort Valley State Wildcat began his professional career with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 as an undrafted rookie free agent. He was also a member of the Washington Redskins practice squad during the 2014 season and spent part of 2015 season with the team.
Cook (5-foot-10, 224 lbs., South Carolina) enters his third season in the AFL and first with the Storm. The two-year veteran began his AFL career with the Orlando Predators in 2015. He started in 4-of-6 games for the Predators in 2016, recording 36.5 tackles, six pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery. Cook began his professional career with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2009. A four-year NFL veteran, Cook was a member of the Baltimore Ravens team that would go on to win Super Bowl XLVII.