The Chicago Rush continue building toward a run at ArenaBowl XXV in 2012, signing two former members of the Cleveland Gladiators–fullback Russell Monk and offensive lineman Billy Eisenhardt–for the upcoming Arena Football League season.
Monk, 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, spent the last two seasons with the East Division champion Gladiators, playing in 31 games and rushing for 144 yards and 20 touchdowns. In 18 games for Cleveland last season, he carried the rock 37 times for 86 yards and 11 scores, making him the team’s second-leading rusher behind quarterback Kurt Rocco. On April 16 against the New Orleans VooDoo, Monk smashed the ball across the goal line three times.
He also caught five passes for 50 yards over the course of the season. On defense, he contributed 10 tackles and five assists while also recovering two fumbles.
Prior to his two seasons with the Glads, Monk suited up for the af2’s Quad City Steamwheelers in 2008 and 2009 after interning with the team in the summer of 2007. After playing four years at right tackle for the Fighting Bees of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, Monk was advised by the Quad City coaching staff to move to fullback because he was too small to be an offensive lineman.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Eisenhardt checks in at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds and played his college ball for the Grand Valley State Lakers, where he and his teammates went 51-2 over his career, 40-0 during the regular season, 38-0 in conference play, and won two NCAA Division II national championships. He was named second-team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2006 and first-team All-GLIAC in 2007. He was honored as first-team Associated Press Little America Team, D2Football.com First-Team, and a variety of other national and regional awards after his senior season in 2008. He was also named the Lakers’ Co-Offensive MVP after the 2008 campaign.
In a 2008 story by Greg Johnson of the Grand Rapids Press, teammates referred to Eisenhardt as “crazy” and “insane.” Coaches called him “squirrelly” and “zany.” But they also called him a leader and one of the best offensive linemen in school history.
Eisenhardt started 13 games for the Gladiators last season at center–his second season with Cleveland.
The Chicago Rush mini-camp begins Feb. 15, with training camp starting three days later. The team has a preseason exhibition game scheduled for Feb. 25 against the Iowa Barnstormers.
The Rush open the 2012 regular season and begin defense of their 2011 Central Division title on March 10 at home against the Tampa Bay Storm.
The author is a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also holds media credentials with the Chicago Rush. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.
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