Andre Broadous got a job offer with a professional football team last week. Three days later, he was suited up on the sideline ready to run a package of plays.
Arena football is supposed to be fast-paced, right?
Broadous agreed to sign with the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League last Wednesday, was on a plane to Washington state Friday and dressed out as an emergency option for a game with a minor league team Saturday.
He had an individual workout with a Canadian Football League franchise last month and might have had other options by the start of the CFL season in July, but had enough of waiting around.
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“It was a difficult decision,” Broadous said. “CFL is a great league, but I wanted to keep playing. I didn’t want to sit out, and keep waiting for a call.
“I just decided I wanted to take the opportunity right now. I’m pretty much done with school, so, I wanted to keep playing football.”
Because it’s the middle of the AFL season and Broadous has plenty of catching up to do to learn the offense, he said the Shock have assigned him to the nearby Tri-Cities Fever of the Indoor Football League, which he hopes will serve as his feeder system to Spokane.
With five games left in the regular season, Broadous appears as if he will back up a former Great West Conference rival, former South Dakota quarterback Dante Warren.
There’s always a chance Broadous could be pressed into duty by injury, but at this point, he is content to learn the differences between the outdoor game and the indoor game, an 8-on-8 contest played on a field just 50 yards long.
“From what I’ve seen,” Broadous said, “it’s a playmaker league, and I would definitely consider my strength being a playmaker.
“Every series you want to score a touchdown, and if you don’t score a touchdown, it’s pretty much like a turnover.”
Cal Poly quarterbacks coach Juston Wood would know. He played three seasons in the AFL before joining the Mustangs as a receivers coach in 2009 and spent several other seasons rising the ranks with other minor league arena franchises.
Wood had 992 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, his AFL career highs, with the Philadelphia Soul in 2007, but his career was hampered by separate season-ending knee injuries.
He has 25 arena league game tapes sitting in his on-campus office, but Broadous was rushed out of town so quickly, he never got to take full advantage of Wood’s insight.
The two did meet briefly during Broadous’ whirlwind goodbye to San Luis Obispo last week, and Wood told him the hardest transition to arena football is mental rather than physical.
“Number one, don’t expect a defense to stop the other team’s offense,” Wood said. “Psychologically, when you’re young, it can really mess with you.
“If you get caught up in what’s happening with your defense on the field, you can get frustrated if you’re not getting any stops.”
Considering Cal Poly’s offense, it seems Broadous also has a lot to prove in the passing game in a league that doesn’t run the ball very often.
In his two seasons as a starter at Cal Poly, the Mustangs ranked among the national leaders in rushing yards per game. As a tradeoff, Cal Poly rarely passed.
Broadous averaged just 12 pass attempts per game while leading the Mustangs to the second round of the FCS playoffs as a senior this past season. In his junior year, Broadous had fewer than 10 completions per game.
He did, however, pass for 18 touchdowns last season with a career-high 9.5 yards per pass attempt, showing he could be efficient in those limited chances to throw.
“The thing that will help him is he’s got very good touch down the field,” Wood said. “If you look at what Andre’s strengths were throwing the football, he’s real natural at giving guys opportunities to make plays.”
Broadous’ ability to scramble and run is also coveted in a league where it is rather uncommon.
Wood said coaches appreciated his ability to be mobile when he played, and being able to escape a pass rush is a definitely plus when protection might not be the best.
Both of Wood’s knee injuries came not from running the ball but from hits by pass rushers.
“I hope he has fun with it more than anything,” Wood said. “I know I had a blast. You get to extend your career. You only get to play this game for so long.
“He’s cool, calm and collected — doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low — a personality suited for arena-league mentality.”