The California Redwoods are one of the new teams in the United Football League (UFL) that will be playing for the first time in 2009. They recently held their first training camp, and here is a look at some of the interesting and familiar names that showed up on their roster.
Dennis Green, the first year coach of the California Redwoods, is a very familiar name to football fans as a well known and somewhat successful head football coach. Green was the starting halfback for the University of Iowa and transitioned into professional football with a brief appearance in the Canadian Football League as a member of the British Columbia Lions. After his playing career was over, he made the transition into the coaching ranks and became very successful as he rose from the University of Dayton, to his alma mater Iowa, and finally to Stanford University where he served as running backs coach and offensive coordinator in the late 1970s into 1980. He would then get his first head coaching position at Northwestern University where he would stay from 1981 to 1985. He had spent 1979 as the special teams coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and he would return to the team as the running backs coach from 1986 to 1988. In 1989, Stanford would give Green the head football coaching position where he would make his name known nationally for running a very successful program. In 1992, the Minnesota Vikings would come calling and offer Green their head coaching job. He would stay with the Vikings until 2001, leading the team to a record of 97-62 and four NFC Central titles. Green’s Vikings would even make it to the NFC Championship Game, just one win shy of the Super Bowl, in both 1998 and 2000. Following his time in Minnesota, Green would be hired for a three year run as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Obafemi Ayanbadejo played college football at San Diego State and then put together an eight year NFL career as a running back. He signed initially with the Vikings but went on to see action with other teams including the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals. He earned a reputation during his time in the NFL as having very good hands for a running back, and was often used as a third down receiving option.
After a successful collegiate career as the quarterback of the University of Rutgers, Mike McMahon was drafted in the 5th round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. McMahon would spend four seasons in Detroit, seeing action in seven games as a starter. His final NFL playing action would be in 2005 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles where he also started seven games. McMahon would briefly see time as the starting quarterback of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2007.
Cory Ross played college football at the University of Nebraska as a running back and then followed his time in college with a two year career with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. He would primarily be used returning kicks and punts during his time with the team.
B.J. Sams played college football at McNeese State, and after not being drafted, was signed as a free agent by the NFL’s Ravens. In his rookie season, 2004, he led the league in punt returns, punt return yards, and tied for the league lead in punt return touchdowns with two. He spent four seasons in Baltimore before moving on to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. Virtually all of his NFL game action was as a kick and punt returner, though he did carry the ball four times for the Ravens in 2004 and ended up with a rushing touchdown to his credit.
One of the most notable college football players during his years at Florida State University, all eyes were on Peter Warrick every time he got his hands on the ball. Warrick was a two time All-American at Florida State and was the MVP of the 2000 Sugar Bowl where he amassed more than 160 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Warrick was drafted with the 4th overall pick in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was productive right from the start, never catching less than 501 passes in his first four seasons with the team. He was also productive as a punt returner for the team too. He was injured in 2004, missing most of the year, and subsequently released prior to the 2005 season. Warrick spent 2005 with the Seattle Seahawks and saw limited action at wide receiver, but was a regular punt returner for the team and made an appearance in Super Bowl XL. Though not ever seeing action with them, he would sign with a number of teams after leaving the NFL including the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League, Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, and Bloomington Extreme of the Indoor Football League.