Cobras Sign Blair, Cleveland; Re-sign Schmitz
Posted November 14, 2001
RALEIGH, N.C. — One day after the Carolina Cobras inked one of the Arena Football League's premier players, Cory Fleming, the club Wednesday signed a pair of rookie free agents and re-signed kicker Brian Schmitz.
Fullback/linebacker Michael Blair and lineman Justin Cleveland both signed three-year contracts. Schmitz inked a one-year deal. Financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Blair is a professional football journeyman, having spent time in the NFL (Green Bay Packers, 1997-98; Cleveland Browns, 1999; New Orleans Saints, 2000), NFL Europe (Frankfurt Galaxy, 2000-01) and the now-defunct XFL (New York/New Jersey Hitmen, 2001). A former four-time All-MAC running back and teammate of Cobras' head coach Mike Neu at Ball State University, Blair brings good size (5-11, 245 lbs.) and speed to the fullback/linebacker position.
Cleveland (6-2, 330, Sienna College) joins the Cobras after playing the 2001 season in arenafootball2 (af2) with the Tennessee Valley Vipers. He played for Cobras defensive coordinator Bret Munsey, who led the Vipers to a 14-2 regular season mark and earned af2 Coach of the Year honors. Cleveland played center on offense and finished the season with 17 tackles and half a sack on the defensive side of the ball.
Schmitz, a former team captain at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joins the Cobras for his second season in Carolina. He was signed mid-way through the year in 2001 and played in the final six games, netting 31 of 36 PAT attempts and hitting 7 of 10 field goal attempts, including a long of 31 yards. He also had a stellar post-season, drilling 4 of 6 field goal attempts, tying an Arena Football League record for field goals made in a playoff game in the Cobras' 58-41 loss at Indiana.
The Cobras may sign up to 40 players to the off-season roster and must take 30 to training camp in March 2002.