Thunder acquire All-Arena QB Shane Austin Nov 30, 2015 17:32:49 GMT -8
Post by David on Nov 30, 2015 17:32:49 GMT -8
The Portland Thunder look to have found their quarterback of the future, announcing on Monday that the team has acquired QB Shane Austin via free agency. Thunder head coach Andy Olson announced the acquisition early this afternoon.
Austin was assigned to the Thunder as opposed to signing in free agency; under the AFL's single-entity business model, players who agree to terms with a team sign with the league and then are "assigned" to that team.
“We’re thrilled to add Shane to our roster,” said Olson in the Thunder's press release. “He has been a top quarterback in this league for the last two years, and aside from his great passing ability, he can extend plays with his pocket presence and mobility. We expect him to come in hungry, and raise the level of play for us.”
Austin (6'0'', 200 lbs) arrives in Portland with a 23-13 starting record. In three seasons, he has thrown for 10,344 yards, 218 touchdown passes, 42 interceptions, and a 109.3 quarterback rating. He also is a threat in the ground game, rushing for 448 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns.
Prior to joining the Thunder, Austin spent past two seasons with the Cleveland Gladiators. He came out of nowhere during the 2014 season, originally serving as the backup to starter Chris Dieker. In the team's second game of the year against the New Orleans VooDoo, Austin came off the bench in relief of Dieker. Down 20-3 at halftime, Austin went 16 of 22 for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns, guiding the Gladiators to a 37-26 victory. He came off the bench a week later, subbing in for a struggling Dieker early in the first quarter against Iowa. With Austin under center, Austin took control, throwing for 6 touchdowns and rushing for 2 more as Cleveland defeated the Barnstormers 54-47. The following week, Austin was named the starter and the Gladiators took off.
Under Austin, the Gladiators only lost 1 game during the regular season, including 8 last minute or overtime victories. Cleveland finished the season with a 17-1 record, setting an AFL record (San Jose would tie that mark in 2015). Cleveland would go on to earn an ArenaBowl berth, falling to the Arizona Rattlers 72-32. Austin finished the season with a 117.9 QB rating, completing 65.1% of his passes for 4,478 passing yards, 99 TDs and 15 INTs, earning Second Team All-Arena Honors.
In 2015, Austin set career highs with 101 touchdowns and 4,651 passing yards but struggled with his completion percentage (61.0%) and threw 18 interceptions, 3 picks behind Thunder QB Kyle Rowley.
Before joining the AFL, Austin was a 4-year player at the University of Hawai'i. He played in 31 games for the Rainbow Warriors as the backup to starter Bryant Moniz. He was given the opportunity to compete for the starting job in 2008 when Moinz went out with an injury. He finished his collegiate career with 1,303 passing yards, 6 TDs, 7 INTs and a 111.8 quarterback rating, earning 2 All-WAC academic teamer awards
After going undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, Austin signed with the Everett Raptors of the Indoor Football League. The Raptors, who were 2-5 when he signed, immediately named him the starter after starting QB Blake Bolles earned a training camp spot with the Minnesota Vikings. Austin impressed in his first start by throwing 7 touchdown passes but he threw two critical 4th quarter interceptions in a 59-68 loss to the Nebraska Danger. He helped the Raptors remain relevant in the playoff race, going 2-2 in his first 4 games, but the team finished 1-2 in their final 3 games and Everett missed out on the final playoff spot with a 5-9 record. He finished the season with 1,546 passing yards and 38 touchdowns.He also added 285 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns in 7 games played.
In 2013, Austin broke into the AFL with the Pittsburgh Power, who took notice of his play in Everett. He was a backup to former LSU star QB Jordan Jefferson, who struggled heavily to adapt to the AFL game. Austin appeared in 3 games and had an opportunity to take the starting job, but a broken hand caused him to miss 2 months of the season. He returned in Week 13 against the Soul, relieving struggling starter Derek Cassidy, throwing 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in a 21-59 loss. He started the power's final 3 games of the season, going 1-2 as the Power finished with a woeful 4-14 record. Austin finished the season with 1,215 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a 78.7 QB rating.
Austin joins Darron Thomas as the only quarterbacks on the Thunder's 2016 roster.
Portland will enter its third season as members of the Arena Football League. They will play in the National Conference along with the Arizona Rattlers and Los Angeles KISS.
Image Credit: Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer
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