PRO FOOTBALL: New league taps U-M's Willis Barringer
January 26, 2008
BY GEORGE SIPPLE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
The six-team All American Football League will hold its inaugural draft today, but Team Michigan's roster already has begun to take shape.
Former U-M safety Willis Barringer is one of 20 players chosen by Team Michigan through a regional protection process. Another 30 players will be selected through the draft, which starts at 1 p.m. An overview of the league, unveiling of team logos and jerseys, and the formal introduction of the protected players will start at noon at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest.
"It's exciting," Barringer said. "It's football, and I like Michigan. I just appreciate the opportunity to play again."
Barringer had a brief tryout with the Lions and spent time as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Toledo Scott High School, during the past year.
"I wanted a new start," Barringer said. "Going to try out for teams in the NFL, it probably wouldn't afford me the same opportunity. They'd see me as another body."
Each AAFL team will have 50 players. Michigan has the fifth pick in the first round and in subsequent odd-numbered rounds. It has the second pick in the second and subsequent-even numbered rounds. Since each team drafts one player for each round, the draft could extend to 50 rounds.
The AAFL also will have a supplemental draft Feb. 16. That pool will include players who didn't produce verification of a college degree to the league office before Jan. 26, were not selected in the draft, or were recently released or waived by NFL teams.
Only players who have earned a college degree are eligible to play in the AAFL. Teams from Michigan, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas will begin competing this spring. Team Michigan's first home game will be against Florida on April 19 at Ford Field.
Among the VIP guests expected to attend today's draft party are Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, son of Team Michigan president Stan Edwards; Curtis Granderson, Thomas Hearns, Lomas Brown and Wayne Fontes, brother of Team Michigan coach John Fontes.
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