AAF Week Four: The 10 Best Individual Performances

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The fourth week of the Alliance of American Football was notable for its tight games. Three games were decided by three points or less, and the largest margin of victory was the Orlando Apollos winning in Salt Lake by nine. In all of these tight games, there were some exceptional individual performances in all three phases. That’s right – we have our first special teams player in the top ten. Let’s take a look at who had the top 10 individual performances in week four of the AAF.

Honorable Mentions

Andrew Ankrah, Orlando Apollos Linebacker
Beniquez Brown, Birmingham Iron Linebacker
Branden Oliver, Salt Lake Stallions Halfback
Rashad Ross, Arizona Hotshots Wide Receiver
Sealver Siliga, Salt Lake Stallions Defensive Tackle

10. Austin MacGinnis, Memphis Express Kicker
4/4 field goals, long of 46 yards

The Memphis Express got win number one in franchise history this week. They downed the San Diego Fleet 26-23 and got a huge boost from their kicking game. Former Kentucky Wildcat Austin MacGinnis was signed by the Express this week and was 4/4 in his kicks. MacGinnis hit the game winner with 2:42 left to give Memphis their first win. He’s the all-time leader in Kentucky football points with 350, and he’s racked up 12 so far in the AAF. This is your weekly reminder: kickers are people too.

9. Jhurell Pressley, Arizona Hotshots Halfback
14 carries, 110 yards, 4 receptions, 13 yards

The Hotshots lost to the previously win-less Atlanta Legends in the late game Sunday. Arizona has a talented stable of backs, but Jhurell Pressley has established himself as the featured back. Pressley now ranks third in the AAF in rushing with 266 yards. He had his first 100 yard game this week and used effective burst to keep Arizona in the game. As effective as quarterback John Wolford and the passing game has been, the Hotshots should lean more on Pressley and their talented backfield to balance their attack in the coming weeks.

8. Zach Mettenberger, Memphis Express Quarterback
18/25 passing, 174 yards, 1 TD, 1 rushing TD, 1 2-PT

It appears that Memphis has solved their quarterback problem by naming Zach Mettenberger their starter. The former Tennessee Titans sixth round pick didn’t always look pretty this week, but he got the job done. Mettenberger replaced Christian Hackenberg this week as the starter and the Express will not look back. He did a great job extending plays, rushed for a touchdown and two-point conversion, and threw a good ball to Terrence McGee to get the game-tying touchdown. The Express still need to find some offensive rhythm, but Mettenberger looks to have solidified the QB position for them.

7. Ed Reynolds Jr., Atlanta Legends Safety
8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 safety

Atlanta Legends safety Ed Reynolds Jr. was a key cog in getting the Legends their first win of the season. Near the end of the first quarter Reynolds managed to bring down the shifty Rashad Ross for the first safety in league history. Reynolds racked up tackles in both run and pass defense, and was one of the reasons the Hotshots couldn’t get their offense running consistently. He was hurt on one of the last plays of the game and hopefully won’t be out for long. The Legends need his range and sure tackling to shore up their back end.

6. Garrett Gilbert, Orlando Apollos Quarterback
22/32 passing, 244 yards, 1 TD

Garrett Gilbert is the only quarterback in the AAF who has started more than one game and not thrown an interception yet. This week Gilbert marched into Salt Lake and the snowy conditions and still managed to sling the ball all over the field. Gilbert looks the part of a star quarterback: calm in the pocket, able to recognize pressure and escape, and the ability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. Orlando has slowly been improving their rushing attack, but Gilbert has filled in the gaps for the only remaining undefeated team in the AAF.

5. Corey Vereen, Memphis Express Defensive End
2 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles

Memphis was able to come back to defeat the San Diego Fleet due to some timely forced fumbles from Corey Vereen. Vereen forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that lead to the game-tying score from the offense. When the Fleet tried to march downfield to respond after a go-ahead field goal by Memphis, Vereen forced another fumble on a third down sack to put the game away. The former Tennessee Volunteer didn’t light up the stat sheet this week, but helped limit San Diego’s Ja’Quan Gardner to six yards on nine carries and came up clutch when Memphis needed it most.

4. Aaron Murray, Atlanta Legends Quarterback
20/33 passing, 254 yards, 7 rushes, 54 yards

Last week some Atlanta Legends fans were chanting for former Georgia Bulldog Aaron Murray to replace Matt Simms as the team’s quarterback. When Simms went down with an injury to his finger early in this week’s game, those fans got their wish. Murray, the SEC’s all-time passing yards leader, lead the Legends to their first win with a dual-threat approach. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers and extended plays with his legs. Murray lead the game winning drive, completing two deep passes and managing the clock. There’s no word yet on if Simms will be good for next week, but he may be holding a clipboard for Murray by the time the weekend comes around.

3. Charles Johnson, Orlando Apollos Wide Receiver
9 receptions, 105 yards

The AAF’s leading receiver through four weeks is Orlando’s Charles Johnson with 410 yards. By snagging nine of his 12 targets, Johnson became the first receiver with multiple 100-yard games this year. He’s become the favorite target of the AAF’s best passed, Garrett Gilbert. While Johnson didn’t find the endzone this week, he had eight receptions that went for a first down. It may be early to predict, but Johnson has a chance to hit 1000 yards receiving in the 10-game Alliance season.

2. Kenneth Farrow II, San Antonio Commanders Halfback
30 carries, 142 yards, 1 reception, 3 yards

San Antonio relied heavily on their rushing attack to down the previously-unbeaten Birmingham Iron. It wasn’t a flashy game, but Farrow was the consistent hammer chipping away at the Iron front seven. The only flaw in Farrow’s game this week was his inability to get into the endzone on a goal line stand. Five carries and Farrow was stuffed each time. Take away those five carries and Farrow was an effective part of the offense and got seven first downs on the ground.

1. Drew Jackson, Memphis Express Inside Linebacker
13 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 passes defended, 1 interception

San Diego offensive players are going to be having recurring nightmares about the damage done to them by Drew Jackson. The former 2014 sixth round pick of the Indianapolis Colts put the defense on his back and stuffed the stat sheet this week. Jackson was a force defending the run and containing the Fleet backs. He showed great footwork in an interception of San Diego backup quarterback Alex Ross. Are we surprised that a team coached by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary has good play from it’s inside backer? Not really, but we are excited to see if he can keep up this impressive play going forward.

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