Nebraska Danger tryouts

Onfensive/defensive line coach Rico Ochoa (left) talks with (from left) Rob Mitchell of North Platte, Tanner Martin of Grand Island, Ryan Lambert of York and Jeff Duda of Columbus during tryouts for the Nebraska Danger Saturday at the Community Field House at Fonner Park.

It was a fairly small group of prospects who took part in tryouts for the Nebraska Danger of the Indoor Football League Saturday morning at the Community Fieldhouse at Fonner Park.

But Danger head coach Mike Davis saw some players that could help the team this season.

"One kid flew in from Maryland. We'll sign him for sure. He has some experience in the league," Davis said. "There were a couple local guys that actually surprised me. They're always nice if somebody goes down. They're here locally so we can pick them up and plug in another piece of the puzzle."

This tryout may have been one last shot for some players who would like to continue playing football.

"That's one of the reasons we do this open trial is to give anybody who has the dream and aspirations of playing pro football the chance to come out and show what you've got," Davis said. "Today we didn't have a ton of guys out here, but we had some quality guys."

No doubt the Danger will have a different look for the second season in franchise history. Davis said there are about six players returning from last year's 3-11 team in Travarous Bain (DB, Miami), Adrian Davis (DL, Arkansas), James Poynter (C, Nebraska-Kearney), Darnell Terrell (DB, Arkansas), Walner Leandre (LB, Arkansas) and Darren Marques (OL, Southern Illinois).

Two former Nebraska players have already signed with the Danger, receiver Frantz Hardy and defensive lineman Brandon Johnson. Davis said the Danger might sign a couple of more ex-Huskers in the near future.

The Danger will have new quarterbacks this year too. Dixie Wooten and Willie Tuitama got most of the snaps last year, but neither will be back this season.

The Danger has signed Tim Bailey (Saint John Fisher College), Dwight Dasher (Middle Tennessee State) and Greg Cross, who played two years at Pittsburgh at quarterback and two years at receiver.

Davis said he's also talked to a couple of other quarterbacks, but nothing has been decided for sure.

One player who probably won't be back is 2011 team MVP and former Hastings College standout Maurice Mansfield, who is moving back to Colorado to work out with an NFL trainer to fine tune his skills.

Davis said Mansfield will definitely be missed.

"Maurice is a great kid, on and off the field," Davis said. "He's one of those guys who just brings a lot to the team. He's never down. He's always upbeat. He'll do anything for the team. Last year it was definitely different because it takes a while to learn this game."

The coaching staff will also have a different look. Defensive coordinator Pat Pimmell, who served as acting head coach when Davis was out last year serving a league suspension for recruiting violations, has moved on as head coach of the Allen Wranglers.

Davis will be the defensive coordinator this year with Hastings College offensive coordinator Dave Kimura as the offensive coordinator.

Hurtis Chinn, who played as a receiver for the Danger last year, will be receivers coach and former Nebraska-Kearney lineman Rico Ochoa will coach the lines.

"We're all on the same page," Davis said of his staff. "It's a younger staff that is enthusiastic and motivated to make this thing work. Dave Kimura did some great things at Hastings College. He's that hard-nosed, up-tempo coach who wants to throw it around everywhere. For this league he's perfect.

"Having a guy like Rico come in and taking care of our offensive and defensive line is priceless."

It's about five weeks until players report on Feb. 16. The Danger will start practices on Feb. 19 and will host an exhibition game against the Nebraska Lawdawgs, a semipro team from Norfolk, on Feb. 23.

The Danger can bring 40 players into camp, then must cut to 25 before the first game. Last year, they only had to cut down to 30 players.

"That doesn't leave you much room," Davis said. "Those guys who can play multiple positions are beneficial."

The Danger will open the regular season March 4 at the Heartland Events Center against the Tri-Cities Fever.

"I'm excited," Davis said. "On paper the team looks good. You never know how people are going to show up for camp. You always get a couple surprises, but I couldn't be more happy. There are still some things to work on, but as it stands now six weeks before camp, I'm pretty happy."

Danger Schedule

Thurs., Feb. 23 Nebraska Lawdawgs

Sun., March 4 Tri-Cities Fever

Mon., March 12 Omaha Beef

Fri., March 23 Wyoming Cavalry

Sat., March 31 at Allen Wranglers

Thurs., April 5 at Everett Raptors

Sat. April 14 Wichita Wild

Sat. April 21 at Sioux Falls Storm

Fri. April 27 Everett Raptors

Sat. May 4 at Colorado Ice

Sat., May 12 at Omaha Beef

Sat. May 19 at Wichita Wild

Sat. June 2 Allen Wranglers

Sat. June 9 Omaha Beef

Sat. June. 16 at Cedar Rapids Titans

Follow Bob on Twitter.​

Sports reporter for The Independent

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