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Blaze release opening-game roster

Utah ready for AFL opener Saturday against VooDoo

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Danny White has been coaching in the Arena Football League for 15 years now, but making final roster cuts never gets any easier.

In fact, getting the Utah Blaze down to the AFL's limit over the weekend made for some of the toughest decisions yet for White.

"We had to let go of some very talented players — more talented players this year than any other year I've been a coach," White said.

The league deadline for trimming down to 24 or fewer active players was Monday. The Blaze have just 22 active players, but have four on their practice squad and four more on the injured reserve list.

The team will open the 2007 season on Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena against the New Orleans VooDoo, a team that played in the AFL in 2005 before taking last season off as the city recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

Since the VooDoo didn't field a team last season, White doesn't know a whole lot about them, so he's concentrating this week on the improvement of his own team. So far, he likes what he sees.

"On paper we're a much more talented, bigger, stronger, faster team than we were last year," said White. "Of course, it remains to be seen what kind of chemistry we develop and how we will execute when the live bullets are flying."

Utah's offense will look similar to last season, with Joe Germaine at quarterback throwing to his favorite targets Siaha Burley, Tom Pace, Justin Skaggs and Orshawante Bryant. The biggest offseason acquisition on the offensive side of the ball was Aaron Boone, a Utah native who was an AFL all-rookie selection a year ago for the Kansas City Brigade.

Defensively, however, the Blaze have a bunch of new faces. Linemen Steve Konopka (Las Vegas) and Chris Janek (Columbus) and linebacker Frank Carter (Nashville) are AFL veterans acquired in the offseason who should aid tremendously in the pass rush department.

"The great neutralizer on defense is a great pass rush," said White. "If you get a great pass rush, it doesn't matter what they do on offense. And we should have a much-improved pass rush."

The Blaze also signed a pair of veteran AFL defensive backs in ex-Ute Clarence Lawson, who played last year for Arizona, and Terrance Joseph, who was with division champion San Jose.

The Blaze have three ex-Utes on their 22-man active roster — Lawson, defensive lineman Garret Smith and linebacker/fullback Kautai Olevao. Former Ute Lewis Powell, meanwhile, has been assigned to the team's practice squad. Hans Olsen is the lone ex-BYU player on the active roster, but AFL rookie lineman Manaia Brown made the team's practice squad.

"I'm excited to get this thing going and so are the players," said White. "We're all looking forward to Saturday night."

Utah Blaze opening roster



1 Aaron Boone WR/LB 6-2 210 1/13/78 Kentucky 1

2 Valentine Chude FB/LB 6-2 255 8/24/83 W. New Mexico R

3 Justin Skaggs WR/LB 6-2 202 4/22/79 Evangel 2

4 Orsh. Bryant WR/DB 6-0 185 11/16/78 Portland State 5

5 Siaha Burley WR 6-0 185 7/16/77 Central Florida 6

9 Ryan Dennard WR/LB 6-3 215 2/27/79 Arizona State 1

10 Joe Germaine QB 6-2 220 11/16/75 Ohio State 3

12 Garrett Smith OL/DL 6-3 285 2/18/80 Utah 1

13 Steve Videtich K 6-2 224 11/4/71 N.C. State 11

17 Jason Gesser QB 6-1 210 5/31/79 Wash. State 1

20 Kevin Clemens FB/LB 6-1 275 6/20/76 Grand Val. St. 7

22 Terrance Joseph DB 6-1 201 2/14/75 Tulsa 7

23 Tom Pace WR/LB 5-11 215 4/5/78 Arizona State 4

27 Clarence Lawson DB 5-8 180 5/12/76 Utah 8

40 Frank Carter FB/LB 6-2 260 10/17/77 MacMurray 5

43 Kautai Olevao FB/LB 6-1 267 9/27/77 Utah 1

52 Chris Janek OL/DL 6-3 315 8/14/77 Wisconsin 6

54 Steve Konopka OL/DL 6-4 286 5/12/76 Cent.Conn. St. 7

72 Hans Olsen OL/DL 6-4 295 7/31/77 Brigham Young 3

75 Myniya Smith OL/DL 6-6 340 7/21/82 Southern R

95 John Culp OL/DL 6-5 295 9/20/79 Kansas 1

98 Rob Gatrell OL/DL 6-5 290 3/17/77 Fresno State 3


14 Travis Cole QB 6-3 218 6/14/79 Minnesota 2

91 Manaia Brown OL/DL 6-3 320 7/17/81 BYU R

92 Bruce Blue OL/DL 6-2 270 10/28/83 W. New Mexico 1

99 Lewis Powell OL/DL 6-3 285 1/29/81 Utah 1


21 M. Davis, Jr. WR 6-3 190 1/19/84 Arizona State R

31 Chris Robinson FB/LB 6-3 272 12/30/80 New Hampshire 1

42 J'Sharlon Jones WR/DB 5-9 183 5/16/78 Colorado State 1

97 Ernest Grant OL/DL 6-6 320 5/17/76 AR-Pine Bluff 2

Season opener 2007

New Orleans VooDoo at Utah Blaze

Saturday, 7 p.m.

EnergySolutions Arena

TV: Ch. 14 (tape delayed)

Radio: 1280AM

E-mail: lojo@desnews.com