WORCESTER — The last time Lamar Edmonds played a football game in Worcester he was intercepting passes and tackling opponents for St. Peter-Marian.
He’ll be back this spring.
Edmonds, surrounded by family and friends in a city restaurant last weekend, signed with the Massachusetts Pirates, a new professional indoor football team in the National Arena League.
Edmonds, 25, said he couldn’t be happier to be playing again at home.
“It feels great. Since high school, I have always been trying to represent the city and be a person that people can look up to,” said Edmonds, who graduated from SPM in 2010 and went on to play four seasons at the University of New Hampshire. “Now that I can play back in Worcester after playing at (UNH) and traveling, it’ll be a good experience to have my friends and family be able to watch all my games.”
Edmonds, a 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback, totaled 123 total tackles and two interceptions with the Wildcats, and went on to play for the New Hampshire Brigade of the Can-Am Indoor Football League last year.
Pirates president Jawad Yatim said he is excited about what Edmonds can bring to the team, which will kick off its inaugural season against the Maine Mammoths on April 7 at the DCU Center.
“He’s a physical defensive back who can be good at jamming receivers and throwing off the timing of a play,” Yatim said. “He has a lot of experience from college and we want to give him a shot and see what he can do. We are excited to have him on board.”
Edmonds, a three-time Colonial Athletic Association Academic All-Conference Team honoree at UNH, was invited to the New York Giants’ rookie minicamp following last year’s NFL Draft. After his initial tryout, he was called back for a second tryout, but was cut soon after.
“It’s a blessing to be back on the field and play, but at the same time you always want to make that next step higher,” Edmonds said.
Of course, arena football rules are much different than regular football. For starters, the field is 50 yards long instead of 100, and only eight players can be on the field per team.
“It’s definitely a different game,” Edmonds said. “A lot faster and a lot more physical, but that’s the type of game I like to play on defense.”
Yatim, a former standout quarterback at Shrewsbury High who also played arena football, has used his close ties to pro football and the community to hunt for potential players.
The Pirates’ roster will include former Holy Name quarterback Nick Haag, who has played for several indoor football leagues, and former Shrewsbury High linebacker Shawn Loiseau, who had a stint with the Indianapolis Colts. Other Pirates with Division 1 college and NFL training camp experience include former Boston College offensive linemen Thomas Claiborne, and receivers London Crawford (University of Arkansas), Ja-Mes Logan (Ole Miss) and Mardy Gilyard (University of Cincinnati).
Last week, Yatim reached deals with guard Cornelius Lewis (Florida State, Tennessee State), and former All-SEC safety Demetruce McNeal (Auburn University, West Alabama University).
“That’s one of the advantages of being younger, because you are more in the loop with the market of players (who are) available,” Yatim said. “We know these guys personally and what they are about and what they bring.”