Hammer adds four to roster
BARBOURSVILLE -- In mid-February, LaRoi Johnson started training camp with the AFL's Utah Blaze.
The former standout tight end at Malone College battled for a roster spot until the final roster cut last week. He got the news the Blaze would go in a different direction and he needed to find a new football home.
Johnson, who has played indoor football in five different leagues since he left Malone in 2007, received interest from several teams, including all teams in the Ultimate Indoor Football League. Johnson liked Huntington's pitch and joined the Hammer. He'll be in uniform Sunday when the Hammer (1-1) take on unbeaten Saginaw (2-0) at 4 p.m. in the Dow Events Center in Saginaw, Mich.
"I'm happy to be here," Johnson said at a news conference Monday afternoon at the Hampton Inn. "I talked to my agent and he said you need to get into a position where you play. I want to be on the field."
Hammer coach Josh Resignalo said the team came up with a "steal."
"He's out to prove he's a hit for real," Resignalo said. "He made it to the final cut (AFL). That shows something."
What Resignalo likes about Johnson is the versatility of the 6-4, 270-pounder. He can play wide receiver, tight end, linebacker or on either line.
Johnson said he's over getting cut by the Blaze.
"It was difficult," said Johnson, who had to deal with a viral infection during camp. "They called me in, said I did a good job, but they wanted to go in this direction."
Johnson said he's getting comfortable with the Hammer's scheme. Huntington has the No. 1 defense in the UIFL.
"Mike got in touch with me," Johnson said of Michael Owens, the Hammer's defensive coordinator. "He understands what's going on. He's been patient with me. Sometimes a guy comes in from the AFL and it's tough to be accepted. I've played and watched other play at the highest level. The guys have accepted me and I know I can help them."
Last season Johnson played for the IFL's San Angelo Stampede Express. He's also had stints with Marion Mayhem (CIFL), Rock River Raptors (CIFL), Albany Firebirds (af2), Kentucky Horsemen (af2) and Canton Legends (AIFA).
As a senior at Malone, he made first team All-Mid-States in 2007 with 38 catches for 400 yards and one touchdown. In 2006, Johnson caught 40 passes for 305 yards and one TD.
Three other players have been added to the Hammer roster. They are wide receiver T.R. Dues (West Virginia Wesleyan), defensive end/linebacker D.J. Brandon (James Madison) and defensive back Mark Littlejohn (Marshall). He was with the team in training camp.