The Cobras signed a number of rookie free agents, re-signed kicker Remy Hamilton, linemen Brad Keeney and Tyrant Marion, and added unrestricted free agent OL/DL Webbie Burnett to the roster.
Burnett (6-3, 310, Florida) is a veteran Arena Football League lineman who brings nine years of Ironman football experience. Burnett spent the past nine seasons as a member of the Orlando Predators, where he won an ArenaBowl championship last season.
He ranks as one of the top five centers in Arena Football and is a very durable lineman, holding the Orlando Predators record with 74 consecutive regular season starts and 92 consecutive regular season games played. Burnett was an 11th round draft choice of the NFL's New Orleans Saints in 1990, where he spent part of the season on the Saints' practice squad. He later signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins and played one season with the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks of the World League of American Football.
Among the recent rookie signings is former University of North Carolina quarterback Antwon Black. Black (5-11, 190, North Carolina) is a versatile athlete and is expected to add depth to the wide receiver/defensive back position.
Black, who contributed on offense, defense and special teams for the Tar Heels, spent his senior season as North Carolina's back-up quarterback. He completed 7 of 14 passes for 124 yards in 2000. He played safety for two and a half seasons before moving to quarterback for the final two games of 1999. During his college career (1997-00), he scored touchdowns on a blocked punt return, a fumble return and an interception return.
Carolina also added some red to the roster with rookie OL/DL Lonnie Gilbert from N.C. State. Gilbert (6-3, 300, N.C. State) brings a local flavor to the Cobras after starring on the offensive line for the Wolfpack from 1993-97. He signed with the NFL Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 1998 and spent the season on the club's practice squad. He was a three-year starter at right guard for the Wolfpack and was named First-Team All-ACC as a senior. He has experience on the defensive side of the ball as well after moving from outside linebacker during his freshman season.
The Cobras also added depth to the offensive/defensive line with rookies Harold Willams and Charles Dorsey. Williams (6-3, 300, Appalachian State) was a force on the defensive line for the Appalachian State Mountaineers. He transferred to ASU from Pierce Junior College and played for the Mountaineers from 1998-99. Williams played in 12 games and totaled 50 tackles, including seven for loss, as a senior in 1999.
Dorsey (6-3, 295, Auburn) established himself as one of the premier defensive players in the SEC as a senior for the Auburn Tigers in 1998. He ranked third on the club with 65 tackles, including seven for loss. He was also second on the club with four sacks. Dorsey signed with the NFL Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent in 1998 but was released before the start of the 1999 season.
Hamilton, Keeney and Marion all return for their second season with the Cobras. Hamilton joins UNC standout Josh McGee as the two kickers on the training camp roster. Hamilton led the Cobras in scoring with 103 points, connecting on 11 of 42 field goal attempts and 64 of 75 PAT attempts.
Keeney played in 12 games last season and led the club with three sacks. He also led the team and was tied for second in the AFL with five fumble recoveries. Marion was a durable player last season, playing in all 14 games for the Cobras. He finished the year with 20 tackles and a sack and added a reception on offense.
Training camp is set to kickoff on March 19. Carolina opens the preseason with a match-up with the Oklahoma Wranglers on Monday, March 26, 7:30 p.m. at Cumberland County Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C. The Cobras conclude their preseason slate on Thursday, April 5, 7:30 p.m. with a home game against the San Jose SaberCats at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. -COBRAS-
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