The Cleveland Gladiators have been assigned former Tampa Bay Storm WR Amarri Jackson (6’5, 225, South Florida). Jackson, entering his fifth season in the AFL, is one of the premier play-making wide receivers in the Arena Football League and was just recently ranked the 35th player in the Arena Football League Top 50 Players from last season.
“We are excited to have a quality AFL receiver like Amarri joining the Gladiators. ” said Cleveland head coach Steve Thonn. “He will be a great addition to a receiving core that already includes Dominick Goodman and Collin Taylor, as well as some new veteran guys. He has the size and speed to be a dominant receiver.”
Jackson, 29, is coming off a very productive season for the Tampa Bay Storm, where he caught 110 passes for 1,341 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has totaled 356 receptions, 4,575 yards, and 85 touchdowns over his five year (2011-14) AFL career. This includes stints with Tampa Bay during the 2011-2012 seasons, and a split season with the San Jose Sabercats and Orlando Predators in 2013, before returning to the Storm for the 2014 season.
Prior to catching on with the Arena Football League, Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of college, participating in their training camp in 2008 and 2009. Prior to that, he attended the University of South Florida from 2005-07, playing in 31 games, hauling in 70 passes for 891 and five touchdowns.
Jackson originally hails from Sarasota, FL and prepped at Sarasota Riverview High School, where he lettered four times in football, three in basketball, and four in track. He earned all-district, all-area and all-conference in football as a junior and senior, as well as being named all-state in basketball twice.
We also sat down with our newest Gladiator and asked him a few questions!
Cleveland Gladiators: Welcome to the team, Amarri!
Amarri Jackson: Thanks, I appreciate it!
CG: How excited are you to join the Gladiators? Also what are the expectations for the team?
AJ: I’m very excited! I talked to a few of the guys on the team. I like the winning culture they have and the way they carry themselves. I like what I have heard about the staff and what I have heard about the franchise. I’m really excited about that. As for the expectations of the team, I know they made the Arena Bowl last year and for the guys that are still there I know they expect nothing less than to making it back there again, so hopefully we can light it up this season and get back in there, and win it all this year.
CG: You caught 110 passes for 1,341 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Do you think you can improve even more on those numbers with second-team All-Arena QB Shane Austin throwing to you?
AJ: Yeah I think I will, I’ll be able to get the ball up the field more. In Tampa, I ran a lot of hitches so a lot of my yards came after the catch. So it will be nice to get some balls up the field and Cleveland actually does that. Nothing against Tampa at all, but it was a lot of hitches, a lot of slants, I had to make my yards after the catch, so I’m looking forward to that. I have some personal goals but it’s all about our team.
CG: Being that you played for the Tampa Bay Storm last season, you got to play against the Gladiators. What was it like to go against that defense/secondary?
AJ: They were very physical, I love the way they play. I know them I got a personal relationship with all of those guys. So just going against the intensity of that defense, I felt like they carried that team a lot. It was the most physical games I played in last season.
CG: Are there any Glads players/coaches you are looking forward to playing with?
AJ: Dominic Jones for sure, hopefully Marrio Norman will be back, LaRoche Jackson, and Tim Cheatwood. I was able to build a relationship with all those guys prior to Cleveland.
CG: Being a tall/bigger receiver, what do you think you can bring to the offense for the Gladiators that maybe they didn’t have last year?
AJ: I don’t want to take anything away from what those guys did last year. Goodman and the rest of those guys did a real good job. I’m just ready to help the offense, making big play after big play. I’m just looking ahead and we’ve got to have that scoring mentality, we need to hit the field and score every drive. My motto has always been if you can get one or two stops on defense you should be able to win the game. I’m getting to play with a great quarterback and I just want to pad my game to what’s going on around us.
CG: Is there one thing non-football related that you are eager to do/see once you make it up to Cleveland for the season?
AJ: Not really, I look at it like I’m coming to Cleveland for business. The other stuff will play itself out, but I just want to have a great bond with my new brothers on the team and win football games. Being in the city of Cleveland I’m sure will take care of itself, I love hearing how great the people are, and how good the community is, but for the most part I’m here to make things happen on the football field!
CG: Thanks for your time today!
AJ: No problem, thank you for having me!