Participants include the top-graded player prospects that were released from NFL training camps
CANTON, Ohio – October 2, 2020 – Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (“HOFV” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: HOFV, HOFVW), the only resort, entertainment and media company centered around the power of professional football and owner of the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls in Canton, Ohio, today announced the initial free agents participating in the inaugural NFL Alumni Academy (the “Academy”), the NFL Alumni Association’s player development program that takes place at the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls.
This year’s class includes unrestricted free agent player prospects who were among the final cuts in NFL training camps. The NFL Alumni Association's personnel department, which is made up of NFL-experienced and NFL veterans, assigned grades to all of the released players and selected those who received the highest ratings for the first Academy class. Among the participating players include:
Tavien Feaster, University of South Carolina – Clemson
DaVonte Lambert, Auburn University
AcaCedric Ware, University of Southern California
Stacy Keely, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Evan Adams, Syracuse University
Mikey Daniel, South Dakota State University
Jake Benzinger, Wake Forest University
Josiah Coatney, University of Mississippi
Marquel Harrell, Auburn University
Christian Ringo, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
O’Shea Dugas, Louisiana Tech University
Tyler Jones, North Carolina State University
Trevon McSwain, Duke University
Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A & M University
Pita Toumoepenu, University of Utah
The participants will have the opportunity to further develop their games by being coached and trained by some of the top minds in professional football. Under the tutelage of former NFL coaches and players Mike Tice, Anthony Munoz, Steve Smith, Jay Hayes, Chuck Smith, Moe Williams, Jermon Bushrod, Dean Dalton and Performance Coach Chip Smith, the trainees will work on improving their strength and conditioning, techniques and skillsets, and situational awareness with the goal of preparing their bodies and minds for a lengthy career in the NFL. If a player is promoted to an NFL roster, another free agent will be invited to join the Academy.
“We are pleased to welcome this year’s NFL Alumni Association’s player development class to the birthplace of football – Canton, Ohio,” said Michael Crawford, President and CEO of HOFV. “Like the players who will be working on developing their games, we will continue working to develop the next phase of the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls as well as original content to grow our media division. We believe the Academy provides a unique way for us to do that, as the popularity of Hard Knocks and Last Chace U shows that fans crave original programming that is centered on football and offers exclusive access to the players beyond the field.”
Seven of the free agents who are participating in the Acadamy shared their thoughts on the unique opportunity to further develop their games and gain exposure to the NFL and its fans in the process:
Stacy Keely: “My goal is to utilize this opportunity to add to my game, work on the basics, and absorb all information thrown my way. One thing I want to improve is my weight, and I believe that is extremely doable through the help of this program and Chip Smith.”
Mikey Daniel: “The goal is to be playing on Sundays, so getting my name out there, getting to the next level, and soaking up all the knowledge I can from the other players here and coaches in the Academy will hopefully set me apart.”
Jake Benzinger: “I plan to be a sponge and soak up as much information as I can while I’m here. I’m really looking forward to learning from coaches Mike Tice and Anthony Munoz to gain a better NFL perspective on the game and grow from my past protections to get myself to the next level.”
Josiah Coatney: “What’s most important to me is refining my game, becoming the best player possible and doing whatever I can to get back in the league. I’m always running, whether that be making tackles or making plays, so I’m hoping that will set me apart from other players.”
Marquel Harrell: “My overall goal is to learn as much as possible. I am coming in with open eyes and plan to soak up and learn as much as I can about the game from former players and coaches. I’m most looking forward to the one-on-one training and being back on a team to then hopefully make an active roster.”
Tavien Feaster: “The work here is legit. The NFL knowledge from the coaches and the intensity of the training make me even more confident that I will succeed in the NFL. I appreciated how quickly the players all bonded during our workouts and how the coaches really teach us about going to the next level.”
O’Shea Dugas: “My approach is to learn as much as possible. I realize that learning from these NFL coaches gives me a competitive advantage.”
Diversity will always be a key component of the Academy program, and its composition will directly reflect the wide range of individuals that it serves. The Academy includes a Football Diversity Development program that works to advance minority former NFL players that are transitioning to coaching and other professional football positions. This initiative is designed to create professional career opportunities for many NFL Alumni Association members.
About the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company
The Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (NASDAQ: HOFV, HOFVW) is a resort and entertainment company leveraging the power and popularity of professional football and its legendary players in partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Headquartered in Canton, Ohio, the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company is the owner of the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls, a multi-use sports, entertainment and media destination centered around the Pro Football Hall of Fame's campus. Additional information on the Company can be found at www.HOFREco.com.
About the NFL Alumni Association
The NFL Alumni Association is a nationwide group of former National Football League players, coaches and other employees whose mission is to serve, assist and inform former players and their families. The association offers a variety of medical, financial and social programs to help members lead healthy, productive and connected lives, as well as community initiatives under the NFL Alumni’s “Caring for Kids” programs. The NFL Alumni Association hosts the NFL Alumni Academy Player Development Program each football season at the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls in Canton, Ohio.
About the NFL Alumni Academy
The NFL Alumni Academy provides a pathway for the top-graded players that were released from NFL training camps to return to the NFL by giving them the opportunity to further develop their skills and realize their potential by training under the tutelage of elite former NFL coaches, players and performance coaches. The Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls will initially serve as the NFL Alumni Academy’s headquarters and training facility. The Academy will then move to the Center for Performance, which will be located on the Village’s campus and is anticipated to be completed in 2022. The Center for Performance will feature an 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art indoor field house and training facility, among other amenities.