Hackenberg, Barnes to Play the New Alliance of American Football League

By Matthew Filipovits on February 8, 2019 at 11:17 am
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass the ball during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

© Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

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If you thought football was over, fear not. The newest professional league, the Alliance of American Football, is set to kick off its inaugural season this weekend.

Founded by television producer Charlie Ebersol and Pro Football Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian, the eight-team league will run from the weekend after the Super Bowl through April 27. Games will be played on both Saturday and Sunday. 

The teams are:

  • Arizona Hotshots
  • Atlanta Legends
  • Birmingham Iron
  • Memphis Express
  • Orlando Apollos
  • Salt Lake Stallions
  • San Antonio Commanders
  • San Diego Fleet

Though the rosters are mostly made up of former college stars looking for another shot at the professional ranks, some big names in the football world are attached to the project. Former NFL superstars Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Justin Tuck, and Jared Allen are all involved in executive roles. Former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and former Nebraska coach Mike Riley will serve as head coaches for Orlando and San Antonio, respectively.

While not many, a handful of Nittany Lions are looking to make a splash in this new league.

  • Christian Hackenberg (QB) - Memphis Express
  • Deion Barnes (LB) - San Antonio Commanders
  • Darius Prince (WR)* - San Antonio Commanders

*Prince graduated from the Penn State Beaver Commonwealth Campus

A second-round pick by the New York Jets in 2016, Hackenberg has had a rough start to his pro career. He was traded to the Raiders after two seasons in New York without ever playing a regular season down. He spent most of the 2018 season on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad.

Barnes has not played football competitively since being released by the Chiefs in October of 2016. The 2012 Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year went undrafted in 2015 but signed with the Jets as a free agent. Like Hackenberg, he has not appeared in an NFL regular season game.

Prince played college basketball at both Penn State's Greater Allegheny and Beaver campus. A terrific athlete, Prince opted for a career in football after graduation, signing with Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. He helped the Soul to the Arena Bowl XXX title in 2017, winning the game's MVP Award after a two-touchdown performance.

The AAF season begins on Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBS with the Atlanta Legends facing off with the Orlando Apollos and the San Diego Fleet traveling to San Antonio to take off against the Commanders.

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