After winning two titles in two seasons in two different leagues – Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) in 2015 and American Indoor Football (AIF) in 2016 – the Columbus Lions were on the edge of a third title in three seasons in a third league in 2017.
They had the ball in Jacksonville Sharks territory in the final seconds of the inaugural National Arena League (NAL) title game. Unfortunately, a mishandled snap by quarterback Mason Espinosa was fumbled and recovered by the Sharks, ending the Lions title-winning streak.
This off-season, they have signed a multitude of new talent, especially at the quarterback position. Their star quarterback from last season, Darren Daniel, signed with the High Country Grizzlies in the American Arena League (AAL). They signed former Auburn University standout Jeremy Johnson. He will competing with Mason Espinosa for the starting job in training camp.
Wide receiver Tristan Purifoy, one of their leading receivers from last season, has also re-signed. He recorded 66 receptions for 793 yards and 19 touchdowns. The 19 touchdowns was second on the team behind only Michael Reeve. Unfortunately, Reeve and Jarmon Fortson are both no longer with the team.
On defense, they did re-sign a huge piece in defensive back Kyle Griswould. Griswould recorded 38.5 tackles and 10 interceptions, both which led the team. Also returning will be defensive back Chris Smith, who recorded 24.5 tackles and three interceptions.
Columbus kicks off their season on April 13 when they host their long-time rival in the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. The last time these two teams played, Columbus overcame a 22-point deficit to defeat the Steelhawks in Allentown in one of two NAL semifinal games.