XFL NY/NJ Hitmen Press Release 6
Press Release 6
NY/NJ Hitmen mini-camp news and notes
December 12

Activated - James Battle (Wide Receiver, Oregon State) 
Placed - Sammie Burroughs (Linebacker, Portland State) on reserve

For the first time ever, HITMEN head coach Rusty Tillman had the opportunity to work with his entire team as the New York/New Jersey Hitmen™ opened its full squad mini-camp at Kean University on December 12.

The on field, twice daily workouts followed an evening of team meetings, as players gathered at the team hotel last night to receive their playbooks and begin the arduous process of trying to earn a spot in the XFL.

Tillman invited 70 players to the camp, including members of the defense, who impressed the veteran coach during the morning workout. “We have some imposing players on the defensive side of the ball,” Tillman said. “We’ve got some strong, hungry, athletic guys who will make an impact in this league.”

Coach Tillman repeatedly preaches the gospel of “HITMEN weather,” noting that his troops will be ready to play in any type of climate. “We have to learn to make friends with the snow, wind, sleet, rain and ice,” the coach explained.

Traditionally, the most windswept area of campus, the Kean University football stadium, was especially blustery on Tuesday, with winds gusting up to 50 mph. While it did not seem to affect the players, video manager Lou Ruchser certainly felt the effects of Mother Nature.

Already nursing a shattered heel and using crutches to get around, Ruchser, who tips the scales at 160 pounds, was lifted off the sideline bench by a powerful gust of wind and deposited on his backside. Luckily for Lou, he did not suffer any further injury, other than to his pride, of course.

Sunshine State resident Sean Liss claimed that he did not mind the cold, but does mind the wind. The St. Petersburg, Fla. product will have a chance to experience frigid conditions during tomorrow’s workout, as the forecast calls for temperatures hovering around the freezing mark throughout the day.

Overheard during the defensive drills: An unidentified player remarked that the HITMEN should play in a dome in order to shield the team from the elements.

“You’ll NEVER see a dome in this league,” linebacker Haven Fields said.

Fields should know something about the XFL and what it takes to be a player. The Auburn product is a few credits shy of a degree in exercise physiology and was enrolled at his alma mater this semester to finish his Bachelor’s requirements when the HITMEN called on December 5.

Looking at his syllabus, Fields realized that he had a final exam scheduled for Monday, December 11, the day players were due to arrive in New Jersey.

Acting with the speed of a linebacker blitz, Fields rescheduled his test for earlier in the day and caught the last flight out of Atlanta that evening, arriving just as the team dinner was ending.

“No way I miss either opportunity - either school or the XFL,” Fields said between mouthfuls of food. “I’ve worked too hard to let this pass me by.”

While 70 players were expected to attend the second mini camp, six HITMEN hopefuls were still AWOL as camp began.

It seems that a storm front in the Midwest shut down air travel from Green Bay through Chicago, stranding fullback Michael Blair, strong safety Donnie Caldwell, defensive tackle Dan Falcon, cornerback Tyree Talton, defensive tackle Jermaine Smith, and linebacker Jude Waddy.

Falcon and Talton did arrive in time for the afternoon sessions, but the others are still yet to be heard from. Maybe it’s the infamous Chicago-Green Bay-Sheboygan triangle at work, not the Canadian cold front, after all.

The afternoon practice was attended by a throng of media, including both print and electronic outlets from as far away as Canada and Washington, D.C. In terms of new media and the Internet, the HITMEN web site, www.all-xfl.com/nynjhitmen, received five million page views last month, further proof that interest in the team and the league is on the rise.

Defensive End Israel Raybon, curious about the new XFL football, made an early appearance at the morning workout. While his teammates were finishing breakfast, Raybon got a closer look at the unique Spalding manufactured football and came away scratching his head.

It seems that Raybon was searching for Vince McMahon’s autograph on the pigskin, but could not find it, much to his dismay.

“Every ball has to have an autograph,” Raybon said. “Whether it’s the commissioner or the owner, someone should put his name on it.”

“I hope someone remembers to sign my check on payday,” he quipped.

Quarterbacks Charles Puleri and Wally Richardson modeled the official HITMEN uniforms for a pre-practice photo shoot, courtesy of Topps Trading Cards.

The XFL today named Topps as its exclusive trading card licensee, and the QBs will be among the first HITMEN players featured.

The HITMEN will hold mini-camp practices each day throughout the week (Wednesday-Sunday) at 8:30-10:00 a.m. and 12:30-2:30 p.m. All practices are open to the public and media. Please note: There will be no afternoon session on Sunday. Practice may change due to weather.

Notes from - [Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5]


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