David Legree had been waiting patiently for an opportunity.
The former Syracuse quarterback was the first player that the New York Streets signed when the franchise was announced back in December and h e came to training camp with the hope of being the team’s starting quarterback. However, that job went to Arena Football veteran E.J. Nemeth who directed the Streets to a 3-3 start to the season and was leading the league with 33 touchdown passes.
But before this past weekend, Legree’s only chance to play was in the Streets’ 70-31 win over Orlando back on April 20th and the Brooklyn native threw just one pass in that game which was incomplete. Throughout the season, Legree had worked hard in practice and took advantage of the reps that were available to help him transition from the big field to the 50 yard indoor war.
And then came last week when Legree found out he was going to get the chance he was waiting for. That was when the Streets turned to him to get the start this past Saturday against the defending NAL Champion Carolina Cobras. Legree was 12 of 27 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns in the Streets’ 52-41 loss. On the ground, Legree scored four touchdowns.
“I feel like my 1st start went pretty well,” said Legree. “The main goal is to win and we didn’t get that done. So it’s back to watching film and bringing that winning feeling back to our team.”
A quarterback change can have a number of different effects on the team and in the case of Legree and the Streets it’s still early to tell how this will all shake out, especially when there’s also been a change at center. The starting quarterback situation right now is being labeled “week to week”, but Legree certainly showed some promise in his first start.
Especially when you consider the shoes he was filling.
“David stepped into a difficult situation replacing a ten year veteran quarterback who was leading the NAL in total offense,” said Streets Head Coach Rick Marsilio. “We changed our scheme to take advantage of David’s size and running ability. As he progresses, the game will begin to slow down.”
Legree and the Streets have now lost three in a row to fall to 3-4 but the goal now is for the strong-armed quarterback to correct the mistakes that he made and channel the things that he did well in order to keep the starting job.
The Streets made some adjustments prior to Saturday’s game and tailored the offense to meet Legree’s skill set and a big part of that was designed runs.
“I’m comfortable running any offense,” said Legree. “I’ve played in a ton of different systems, so whatever is asked of me I feel like I can get done. The runs really helped. It’s a major part of my skill set so I have to thank the coaches for calling them and the hogs upfront for opening up those running lanes.”
There’s no question that it takes a special talent to play quarterback in Arena Football. During my eight years with the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League, I had the privilege of watching Aaron Garcia, arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play Arena Football. There were other greats that I was able to watch like Clint Dolezel, Mark Grieb, Andy Kelly, Sehrdrick Bonner and current Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy. They were all were able to make the transition to the indoor game.
There was also the time that former Giants quarterback Danny Kanell played briefly for the Dragons but he was an example of an NFL quarterback that just wasn’t a fit for Arena Football. A good indoor quarterback has to be able to put the right touch on his passes and now Legree is learning that and getting better in practice every week.
“It’s definitely an adjustment,” said Legree. “I’m used to a big field where I can really drive the ball downfield. But I think I’ve shown I can make any and every throw that needs to be made.”
Legree made some incredible throws in Saturday’s game including a 31 yard bullet to Rob Jones in the second quarter. The fact that Legree is on the field and enjoying Arena Football could be construed as a bit of a surprise. While he was the first player to sign with the Streets back in December, he had his reservations about playing Arena Football.
But now he’s enjoying it.
“Surprisingly I have,” said Legree. “I didn’t want to play at first. But now I’m glad that I did. We have a special group of guys in this locker room. And they help me day in and day out with my learning process along with just having a great time.”
While it’s not yet known if Legree will start again this Saturday night when the Streets host the Columbus Lions at the Westchester County Center (7pm MSG), it’s clear to see that Legree has come a long way since first stepping onto an Arena Football field. It’s still going to take some time, but Legree has demonstrated an ability to play the quarterback position and he’s only going to get better.
The Streets are back in action this Saturday June 15th when they host the Columbus Lions at the Westchester County Center. Kickoff is at 7pm and if you can’t make it to the game, you can watch all of the action live on MSG Network.
New York Streets individual game tickets are available at ticketmaster.com. For season and group ticket information, call 1-833-697-8733 and choose extension one.