The Kent Predators found a few good men Saturday to start to build a roster for the professional Indoor Football League expansion team.
Kent signed 15 of the 55 players who competed in a tryout Saturday at The Soccer Center in Tacoma.
The Predators make their home debut March 12 against the Fairbanks Grizzlies at the ShoWare Center. Kent opens the season Feb. 28 at Billings, Mont.
The league started last spring with 19 teams and plans to field 26 teams in 2010. The league, based in Richmond, Va., was created in 2008 with the merger of the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football.
Kent team officials came away impressed with the players at the tryout.
"We are real happy with the number of guys and the talent," said Jim Granacker, team director of operations, in a phone interview Monday. "We had a lot of talent and the majority had experience at the semipro or college level."
Fifteen players were signed to be invited to a two-week training camp in February.
"The contract only gets them to camp," Granacker said. "It does not mean they are on the team."
The list of 15 includes Kevin Jones, a running back and defensive back who helped lead Kentwood High School to the 2001 Class 4A state football championship. Jones played defensive back for the Tri-Cites indoor team last spring and at Western Washington University in 2008. Jones, 25, signed up for the Predators to play either quarterback or wide receiver.
Other signees include KJ McCrae, 23, a linebacker who played in 2007 and 2008 at Portland State University; and Mark Onibokun, 27, a wide receiver and defensive back who was a reserve receiver at Boise State University in 2003.
Players paid $65 to participate in the tryout. Team officials evaluated players in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, a four-cone drill, the standing-broad jump, agility drills, position-specific drills and 7-on-7 drills.
"Some guys right away you could see were head and shoulders above the others," Granacker said.
Players who make the team will receive $225 per game and a $25 bonus if the Predators win.
Co-owner Chris Kokalis, Granacker and a couple of semipro coaches selected the players to invite to camp.
The Predators plan to hold more tryouts in January in an effort to form a 45-man roster for training camp. The dates and places of those tryouts remained to be determined. Twenty-five players, including four inactive members, will make the roster for the eight-on-eight games.
The field is 50 yards long. There is no punting.
The league runs a 14-game schedule from March through June. It has teams in 13 states from Maryland to Alaska.
Kent will play the Tri-Cities Fever and the Billings Outlaws, the only other teams in the Pacific Northwest, as well as a couple of teams in Alaska. Tri-Cities left the Arena Football League 2 last month to join the Indoor Football League.
The Predators play the Tri-Cities four times and play Billings, Alaska and Fairbanks three times apiece as part of their schedule of seven home and seven away games. Kent plays a road game April 24 at the Chicago Slaughter.
Kokalis said he hopes to hire a coach by early January.
"We're still in talks with several candidates," Kokalis said in a phone interview Monday.
The cost of season tickets for seven games are $252 for front-row platinum seats, $232 for club and premium, $187 for reserved, $125 for touchdown and $96 for end zone seats. Tickets are on sale now at the team's Web site, www.kentpredators.com.
The Friday and Saturday night home games at the ShoWare Center will start at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday games beginning at 3 p.m. All game times are subject to change.
KENT PREDATORS 2010 SCHEDULE
Feb. 28: at Billings
March 8: at Alaska
March 12: Fairbanks
March 20: at Tri Cities
April 9: Alaska
April 18: Tri Cities
April 24: at Chicago
April 30: Billings
May 8: at Tri Cities
May 14: Fairbanks
May 29: Billings
June 4: Tri Cities
June 12: at Fairbanks
June 19: at Alaska