If Pittsburgh Power coach Chris Siegfried designed the sharpest pass routes or the trickiest defenses, he would be doing only part of his job.

In the Arena Football League, the coach is also the recruiting coordinator, but finding great athletes isn't enough.

"You have to recruit football players who fit into this style of play," he said. "It's not a game for everybody."

The Power open their second season at 8:30 p.m. Friday night against the Predators in Orlando, Fla., with a lineup that was given a makeover of more than 50 percent from 2011. The 24-man roster has 14 new faces. Of the 17 starters, eight played elsewhere last season or didn't play at all.

The AFL is nomadic by nature, but Siegfried contributed to the turnover in the offseason by seeking players who are old enough to know the game but young enough to keep up with its speed.

After the Power finished 9-9 and short of the playoffs, Siegfried evaluated what went wrong, blaming many of his problems on injuries. For example, the Power used five starting quarterbacks.

"I think I called every quarterback who has ever taken a snap in Arena Football," he said.

But Siegfried wasn't content to make excuses, and he decided to do something about the injuries.

"It's not really an exact science in how the injuries happened," he said. "But what I found out was a lot of the injuries for some reason happened to the younger players who never played the game before."

That's why Siegfried signed several indoor football veterans who "know how to train, know how to practice and know how to play."

The results of Siegfried's efforts brought several accomplished players to Pittsburgh, including wide receiver/kick returner P.J Berry, quarterback Kyle Rowley, center Beau Elliott, fullback Tyre Young and defensive back Chris LeFlore.

Berry, who has a case of plantar fasciitis and may be limited in Orlando, led the AFL in all-purpose yards last season with the New Orleans Voodoo (an average of 206.0 per game). He returned five kickoffs for touchdowns and totaled 2,043 return yards and 1,593 in receptions.

Siegfried said Rowley is in Pittsburgh after losing his starting job in Spokane, partially due to a 51-41 loss to the Power last season. In that game, Rowley completed 19 of 44 passes with two interceptions.

"We had a great game plan against him and that started a string of events that allowed him to become available," Siegfried said.

Rowley, who has been playing indoors since 2003, hopes to have better protection this season throwing behind a veteran unit. The line will be led by Elliott, who played at Highlands and Indiana (Pa.), and Young, a Woodland Hills product who also played at Pitt and IUP.

Young had a full-time job last season and didn't play indoor football, but Siegfried said he was the best fullback in the league in 2010 when he played in Milwaukee.

Rowley, who led Spokane to the AFL championship in 2010, has a solid stable of pass catchers, including Aliquippa's Mike Washington and 6-foot-6, 242-pound Lonnell Dewalt. Washington, who is 5-8, had 30 touchdowns among his 114 receptions last season.

"Mike Washington should be in the NFL, in my opinion," Siegfried said.

Posted in College Sports, Pittsburgh Steelers

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