SIOUX CITY | Liam Nadler may be one of the new Sioux City Bandits, but he has a commanding presence in the huddle.
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 235 pounds, Nadler may be one of the most imposing quarterbacks the Bandits have had in recent years. Nadler has shown his new teammates the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs in practice.
“He definitely has a very big arm and he can throw the ball a ton,” said Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen, whose team will host the Quad City SteamWheelers in the Champions Indoor Football opener for both team this afternoon, beginning at 3:35 at the Tyson Events Center.
“He’s also mobile. He’s big, tall and mobile. That gives us a different dimension, him being a big, tall quarterback who can throw and hurt you with his legs. He’s a very good competitor.”
Nadler comes to the Bandits from Gannon University, located in Erie, Pennsylvania. The native of Leipsic, Ohio, passed for career totals of 11,160 yards 82 touchdowns from 2012-15, throwing for over 2,000 yards each season.
A year ago, Nadler passed for 1,114 yards and 28 touchdowns while playing for the Indoor Football League’s Colorado Crush, where among his teammates were C.J. Jones, a cornerback from Clemson who will be among the Bandits’ new starters in the secondary.
One of three different starters for the Crush, Nadler started each of the last four games, passing for at least six touchdowns in two of them. He connected with one of his new Bandits teammates, wide receiver Andre London, for a 9-yard touchdown pass in a 39-12 win over the Sioux City Stampede in the inaugural SUX Bowl on Feb. 24 at the Tyson.
As today’s game develops, Nadler will have receiving targets like Branden Sheperd and eight-year Bandits veteran Frederick Bruno, who a year ago, had 36 catches for 309 yards and five touchdowns for last year’s 10-4 squad. Former Northern Iowa running back Darrian Miller will also start.
Nadler will also have protection from linemen like Reggie White (6-3, 285), Blake Frank (6-3, 285), Max Stewart (6-3, 285) and Joshua Davis (6-2, 320).
“I’m very impressed with (Nadler),” said Strohbeen. “He definitely will run this offense. He’s a leader, a guy who will take charge in the huddle and get this team going in the right direction. What he says, they buy into. If he says something, they will listen.”
Devon Bridges, last year’s CIF defensive player of year, is among four returning defensive starters for the Bandits. A 6-1, 240-pound end, Bridges ranked third on last year’s team with 71 tackles while adding 22 tackles for loss, 14 quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles.
Westly Johnson and Devin Groenhagen recorded 52 and 40 tackles, respectively, a year ago. Ben Pister will also play on the line either as an end or a nose tackle while Terrance Fullum, a 6-2, 250-pounder will add depth at the nose or end positions.
Linebacker Zac Schleuger, a former Morningside College standout, had 68 tackles and a fumble recovery last year. Cornerback Henry Livingston also returns.
The brand-new secondary includes cornerbacks Solomon St. Pierre and strong safety Delvin Batiste, a pair of athletes who drive daily from Sioux Falls to compete. Antonio Brown will play free safety.
“I’m impressed with all of them in the secondary,” said Strohbeen. “To single one out, I’m not able to. The whole crew as a unit are young and hungry. In our scrimmage, they had two or three picks. They hawk the ball in practice. That’s what we need, turnovers, so we can get extra possessions on offense.”