Streeter headed to AFL's Carolina Cobras
By Ken Picking, Gettysburg Times
The life-long dream of playing in the National Football League is still alive for Gettysburg's Brandon Streeter.
The former Gettysburg High School and Clemson University quarterback, who was beginning to think his playing career might be over at age 23, is awaiting contract approval from the Arena Football League headquarters in Chicago to officially become a member of the Carolina Cobras.
Could Brandon Streeter be the next Kurt Warner, the St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl MVP and the Arena League's most celebrated alumnus?
‘I'm looking at this as my stepping stone to the next level. The NFL is still my goal,’ Streeter said Monday.
Upon approval of the Arena League's standard first-year contract, recently renegotiated through collective bargaining, Streeter will receive the minimum $900 per week salary, plus housing, meals and performance-based incentives such as games started, games won and touchdown passes.
‘It's a 99 percent done-deal,’ said Carolina Head Coach Doug Kay Monday from Cobras' offices in Raleigh, N.C. ‘It’s really a rubber-stamp situation - they just look to make certain all the ‘ts’ are crossed - and that should only take a day or two.’
This past season, the expansion Cobras’ first, Carolina finished 3-11 but were third overall in league attendance, averaging 13,500 at the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena, said Cobras Media Relations Director Nathan Boudreaux. The Raleigh arena also is home to the Carolina Hurricanes’ NHL franchise and North Carolina State basketball.
‘This is a magnificent situation for Brandon to come in to,’ said Kay. ‘Gettysburg will have to load up some buses and come down because Brandon will be playing right away in the exhibition games.’
Streeter, who returned to Clemson this fall to complete graduate studies in human resources after being snubbed by Montreal of the Canadian Football League, will report in mid-March for training camp at Fayetteville, N.C.
‘This is a great opportunity for me. For a lot of quarterbacks, it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time,’ Streeter said from his apartment in Clemson, S.C., Monday afternoon.
‘Originally, I told myself I wasn’t going to play Arena ball, basically, because I just didn’t know that much about it. But their coach (Kay) kept calling me through the late spring and summer and set me up for a workout (Oct. 21).’
Kay, a veteran of 40 years at all levels of football who has coached in the Arena League since 1993, said he was impressed with Streeter’s size (6-2, 215 pounds), quick release and ability to make decisions in scrambling situations.
Kay also mentioned, ‘I like Brandon’s genes.’
Streeter, who turns 24 on Jan. 1, is the son of Gettysburg College head football coach Barry Streeter and wife Barbara, Lake Heritage residents.
‘I followed Brandon collegiately,’ said Kay. ‘In my mind, he probably has an NFL future. The Rams’ guy (Warner) proved quarterbacks in our league are good enough to play in their (NFL) outdoor league, I’m not so sure that’s vice versa.’
Excuse me, coach: do you mean Arena quarterbacks can play in the NFL but not the other way around?
‘The compression of our field (50 yards long, 28 yards wide) makes for a different decision-making process, and that’s not the right situation for all quarterbacks,’ said Kay. ‘Brandon does have the ability to get rid of the ball quickly. He’s also an athlete who understands the game. He operates well on his feet. He is able to seek answers although he may be scrambling. Some (NFL) quarterbacks, while scrambling, give up seeking answers and go into a life-saving mode.’
Streeter, after passing for 3,504 yards and 17 touchdowns in mostly his junior and senior seasons at Clemson, was not drafted by the NFL, primarily due to his injury history. He missed games with a broken collarbone and ankle injuries, but always returned to action, earning him the nickname, ‘Bionic Brandon.’
In fact, Clemson created a ‘Brandon Streeter Award’ for, ‘athletic performance despite physical injury,’ according to the Tigers’ media guide.
Streeter’s past injuries did not concern the Cobras, said Kay.
‘Injuries are the nature of the game,’ said Kay. ‘It’s not easy to put on the helmet and not get beat up. When you’ve played long enough to reach this level, everybody’s had somewhat of an injury history.
‘For us, everything was contingent on him (Streeter) passing our physical, and he passed all our tests.’
Streeter and his agent Jim Simms, a 1979 graduate of Gettysburg College who played football and ran track for Barry Streeter, thought Brandon was on his way to Montreal and the CFL.
‘I was disappointed it did not work out with the CFL,’ Brandon said. ‘I was expecting to be up there this summer because Montreal showed interest, especially when I tried out for them. I still don’t know why they didn’t call me. They mailed me flight tickets for practice and everything, and then two days before I was to go, they canceled on me. They signed a bunch of QBs and, I guess, just decided not to include me.
‘Actually, I was shocked. I thought it was 100 percent (he’d be playing in the CFL). That’s when I decided to go back to Clemson and finish up grad school. The AD got me a scholarship.
‘My thoughts then were, just take it easy and stay in shape in case something came out of nowhere.’
And, indeed, the Arena League did. Simms, whose Simms Sports Management in San Francisco represents NFL stars Jamal Anderson of Atlanta and Cincinnati’s Corey Dillon, called in September to say the Cobras were hot for Streeter to try out.
‘At that point, the Arena game didn’t look so bad anymore,’ said Brandon, laughing at himself. ‘I figured, I’m still young, there’s no reason for me not to try it. Plus, when I was going to Clemson games this fall, I could still feel it, I could still tell that I wasn’t ready to stop playing the game.’
Streeter’s father knew his son did not have the game out of his system.
‘Everybody wants to be drafted by the NFL, but shoot, that doesn’t often happen,’ said Barry Streeter. ‘This is a great opportunity for Brandon to show he can play at a high level and stay healthy. Plus, now it’s been proven Arena quarterbacks can play at the next level.’
Coach Streeter sees the Arena competition as a good fit for his son at this stage of his career.
‘It forces you to make quick decisions and prove you have a quick release - those things are right up Brandon’s alley,’ said Barry. ‘He had to do those things his senior year at Clemson.
‘Not playing this year, seeing all the other guys play, I know Brandon wants to play somehow, somewhere... Plus I want to see him play. I haven’t had many chances in the past so maybe this will be. I hope this is his first step in something even better.’
Kay said, ‘Brandon’s acclimation will come quickly.’ The Cobras coach said he will get extensive playing time in two exhibition games in early April.
‘I was honest with Brandon. It’s highly unlikely (he will win the starting job). There is an incumbent,’ said Kay.
A name incumbent, at that. The Cobras starting quarterback is Fred McNair, 32, the original ‘Air McNair’ at Alcorn State before his younger brother, Steve McNair, now starter for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, broke all his records.
The Cobras started their inaugural season with Jim Arellanes, who had some NFL experience, at quarterback. But four games into the season Charlotte traded Arellanes and receiver Jack Jackson to the Florida Bobcats for McNair.
In eight games, McNair completed 150 of 248 passes for 1,958 yards, 39 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
‘We’ll bring three quarterbacks to camp: McNair, another one with some experience and Brandon,’ said Kay. ‘Brandon will compete for backup, but the benefit of the third QB is he can learn the game.
‘History says, though, anything can happen. We had two quarterbacks go down in 20 minutes last year. The thing that catches up with you in the indoor game is the speed and quickness. It’s a major acclimation. You have to understand the angles of the field or you can end up throwing the ball 11 rows up or into the tunnel to the bus.
‘In our game, Brandon will be working with receivers who are a good as the ones you see on Sunday (NFL).’
For Streeter, or any Arena quarterback, to be successful, he needs a few seconds to remain upright to pass. Kay said he plans to ‘rebuild, restructure with free agents’ last year’s offensive front, which featured 6-3, 300-pound Jerry Sharp (Syracuse) at center, and linemen, 6-4, 290-pound Brad Keeney (Citadel) and 6-3, 280-pound Hunter Adams (Bucknell).
In the Arena League, teams carry 24-man roster and active 20 for each game. Starting lineups consist of eight players, six of whom play both ways. The quarterback and one offensive specialist (a receiver) do not play defense.
Streeter graduated from Gettysburg High School in 1995, having rewritten the Warriors’ single-season and career passing records, said his coach Sam Leedy. Before attending Clemson, Streeter became one of the few Adams County football players selected for the prestigious ‘Big 33’ game between all-stars from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
By signing with Carolina, Streeter becomes the first Gettysburg High School football player since 1973 graduate Steve Courson to play professionally. Courson, whose No. 71 is the only number retired at Gettysburg, played for the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Doug Seidenstricker, a South Western High School graduate and son of Mustangs coach Don Seidenstricker, played linebacker in the NFL Europe and Arena leagues.
‘I’m happy for Brandon. I hope he follows in Kurt Warner’s footsteps,’ said Leedy. ‘Because of following my own son Tim and his college career (at William & Mary), and with my coaching duties, I never got to Clemson to see Brandon play. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to see him play in the Arena Football League.
‘He’s still pursuing his dream and I certainly wish him the best of luck. A lot of people have gone a lot of strange ways to end up where they are today. I hope this leads Brandon to some of those heights.’
Simms, naturally, is counting on negotiating an NFL contract for Streeter.
‘This (Arena) is going to give Brandon the opportunity to get to the NFL,’ the agent said. ‘This gets him out of his current situation. He won’t be stale, he’ll be playing.
‘Some (NFL) teams were concerned about his past injuries. The league people felt he was still rehabbing. If he had a clean bill of health, he would have gotten his shot (at the NFL). Hopefully, this is his start, like Kurt Warner.’
Streeter is hoping to catch the NFL scouts’ eyes on film, and maybe even ESPN highlights.
‘My ultimate dream is alive,’ Streeter said. ‘Getting on tape, showing the NFL scouts I can play, and then impressing them, is what I am out to do.’
Contributing: Ryan Raffensperger