Written By: Roy Countryman @Blitzalytics @PreacherBoyRoy
David Connors @connors_david
Offensive Player of the Week
Ja’Quan Gardner, RB, San Diego Fleet
12 carries, 120 rushing yards, 10.2 YPC, 1 TD, 2 rec (2 targets) 21 rec yards
Ja’Quan Gardner was a three-year starter at D-2 school Humboldt State University in California. He won 2 GNAC Offensive Players of the Year in 2015 and 2017 (sophomore and senior year). In 2015 he led Division II with 337 carries, 2,266 yards, and 25 touchdowns. In 2017 he led the conference 206 carries, 1,322 yards, and 21 touchdowns. He also showed off his skills as a receiver with 20 receptions for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. He went undrafted, however, he spent time on the San Francisco 49ers preseason team in 2018.
At 5’7” and over 200 lbs, Gardner is short but sturdy. He is creative with the ball in his hands and can create yards on the ground and through the air. He’s patient and waits for his hole. He has good quickness with a lot of burst through the hole and he always seems to fall forward. His one pre-draft criticism is lack of speed, although he proved those critics wrong with an 83- yard run where he just outran the entire Commanders defense.
Unfortunately, Ja’Quan Gardner is a small school player who slipped NFL teams’ radar. That’s will not happen again. Gardner shows impressive skills in both the run and pass game, indicating that he could be a 3-down back in most offensive systems. Gardner will find his way on a team in spring training and win his way on the final roster. I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be the perfect landing spot for this young running back.
Defensive Player of the Week
Jamar Summers, CB, Birmingham Iron
3 Tackles (3 Solo), 4 PD, and 1 INT.
Summers comes into the AAF season off a strong preseason performance with the Steelers where he made it to the final cutdown stage. He is a three-year starter at the University of Connecticut as a Corner and then as a hybrid Safety. He had a standout sophomore campaign that culminated in being selected as a First Team All-American Athletic Conference. That season he flashed his aggressiveness to play sticky coverage and make plays at the catch point with 8 interceptions in that season.
Summers is a feisty CB who likes to compete with his assignment at the catch point. He is a fast and aggressive cover man that has good fluidity and foot quickness to be able to flip and flow with WRs downfield. He also sticks to the hip pocket and will get his head around to find the ball with good timing. He has active hands to attack the pass at its catch point and if he does not come up with a turnover he will break up a ton of passes. He is a willing run supporter who takes good angles in pursuit, and if given the opportunity he will try and rip the ball out for a forced fumble. He has a great attitude and doesn’t let one completion knock down his confidence. Has the athleticism and mindset to be able to cover the opposition's top target and give them all they can handle. It has been obvious so far in the AAF season, as he has been thrown at 15 times and has only allowed 4 receptions, to go with 2 INT’s and 4 passes defensed, truly flashing his shutdown abilities.
After lasting with the Steelers to their final cut downs, and now putting quality tape for prospective teams to watch, I think there is no doubt that Summers will get a second chance to showcase his skills at the next level, and I believe it will happen immediately after this season concludes. The Steelers are a team that makes a ton sense, because of their familiarity with him and their need to get better players in the secondary. He has a real chance of being one of the early success stories of the AAF.
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