Lawrence Samuels - Head Coach
21st AFL Season | 20th With The Storm | 3rd as Head Coach
The Tampa Bay Storm and Arena Football League Hall of Famer, Lawrence Samuels, enters his second season as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Storm. This is his 19th season with the Storm and 20th in the Arena Football League. Prior to becoming head coach of the Storm, Samuels spent two seasons with the team as an assistant coach.
Before joining the Storm coaching staff in 2012, he spent the 2011 season as the wide receivers coach at Central State (Wilberforce, OH) where he was the passing game coordinator and assisted in coaching the special teams units. Prior to that he was the consummate professional and veteran wider receiver with the Tampa Bay Storm where he assisted in the development of new and rookie receivers teaching them how to break down film and write up scouting reports.
During his tenure as a wide receiver with the Storm he held several high school coaching positions where he instructed high school athletes in the fundamentals of the wide receiver and defensive back positions, as well as assembled weekly scouting reports and film breakdowns.
He also coached for USA football at their numerous summer football camps sponsored by the National Football League. His duties included fundamental and skills teaching at the wide receiver and defensive back positions and tutoring team skills, life skills and leadership.
Samuels served two stints as the wide receiver coach at his alma mater West Alabama, where he learned the intricacies of coaching, coordinating the passing game, mentoring and advising student-athletes, coordinating conditioning programs, recruiting student-athletes and monitoring NCAA academic rules and regulations.
He was the AFL’s all-time leading wide receiver prior to the end of his career. He was the first player in AFL history to record 1,000 receptions and the sixth player ever in professional football to reach that milestone. He retired as the Storm all-time leader in receptions (967), receiving yards (11,078), receiving touchdowns (160), points scored (1,076), fumble recoveries (32), forced fumbles (20) and tackles (455.5) and was second in all-purpose yards (11,651) and interceptions (32).
He is one of only two players in the history of the AFL to earn both MVP and Ironman of the Game honors in an Arena Bowl. He was a member of three AFL Championships teams and one of the greatest two-way players to ever play the game of Arena Football. He will be inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame during the 2014 season.
He and his wife Kellei live in Wesley Chapel with their two daughters Landry and Wilson.
Lawrence Samuels’s Coaching Career
Benji McDowell - Defensive Coordinator
4th AFL Season | 1st With The Storm
McDowell enters his fourth season in the Arena Football League and first with the Storm. McDowell entered the season as the team's offensive and defensive line coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator.
McDowell began his professional career with the Tennessee Valley Vipers of the af2 in 200. He would spend three seasons with the Vipers, winning an ArenaCup in 2008. In 2011, McDowell moved on to play for the Georgia Force, playing with the team for two seasons.
In 2013, McDowell began his coaching career, joining current Storm Assistant Head Coach Dean Cokinos with the Alabama Hammers. He would spend two seasons on the coaching staff, helping lead the team to a PIFL Championship in 2013.
McDowell joined the University of Georgia coaching staff in 2015 as a defensive intern. At Georgia, he would go on to help implement the defensive coaches’ game plans.
Benji McDowell's Coaching Career
Shane Stafford - Offensive Assistant Coach
9th AFL Season | 6th With The Storm | 1st as Offensive Assistant Coach
Stafford enters his ninth season in the Arena Football League and sixth with the Storm. It will be Stafford’s first season as the team’s offensive assistant coach. His primary role will be to help develop the quarterbacks and receivers with Storm head coach, Lawrence Samuels.
Stafford began his AFL career with the Tampa Bay Storm in 2001. He would spend five seasons with the team, becoming one of the greatest statistical quarterbacks in team history. He would finish his career as the team’s all-time leader in pass completions (1,357), pass attempts (2,143), passing yardage (15,667) and passing touchdowns (289), leading the team to four playoff berths in five seasons.
In 2007, Stafford would go on to play two seasons (2007-08) with the Orlando Predators, before moving on to the Dallas Vigilantes in 2010. He would begin his coaching career in 2010 when he transitioned from being the Vigilantes’ starting quarterback to being named the Vigilantes’ offensive coordinator.
Stafford began his professional playing career in 2000, when he played for the Tallahassee Thunder of the af2. He had stints in the National Football League with the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. Stafford has played internationally with the Scottish Claymores of NFLE. Stafford would finish his AFL career completing 2,113-of-3,293 passes for 24,525 yards and 451 touchdowns.
The Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania native played collegiately at the University of Connecticut. He finished his Huskies career second all-time in passing yards (8,875), attempts (1,026), completions (563) and total offensive yards (8,829). He also tied the school’s all-time passing touchdown record with 73.
Stafford has also coached locally at the high school level, serving as the quarterbacks coach for Tampa Catholic High School.
Shane Stafford's Coaching Career