A quarterback took the Alliance of American Football by storm Sunday night with his dazzling throws and accuracy in the team's win over the Salt Lake Stallions at Sun Devil Stadium.
It just wasn't the quarterback people expected.
John Wolford, a former Wake Forest standout, shined in his first game with the Arizona Hotshots, leading the team to a 38-22 win.
Wolford had been almost an afterthought leading up to the game, with former Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight being the player the Hotshots selected with the team's top pick in the AAF's "Protect or Pick" quarterback draft and was Arizona's presumed starter.
But the unheralded Wolford, beat out Knight and went out to throw for four touchdowns and 275 yards to spark the Hotshots' first victory.
“I swear to God, it’s like a repeating cycle,” Wolford told the Winston-Salem Journal prior to the opener. “The biggest thing that you learn in camp is being able to be consistent. Just to go out every day and do the right thing every single time, and that’s how you win jobs. So, I have some experience in that arena.”
Wolford, who won the starting quarterback job at Wake Forest as a freshman, finished his time Demon Deacons with 8,794 career yards passing and 59 touchdowns and had 19 more rushing scores.
And then, on Sunday, he repeatedly shredded the Stallions’ secondary on 18-of-29 passing.
“It's exciting. You're part of a start-up, everything is a first,” Wolford said after the game. “Every pass is the first pass, the first completion, the first touchdown. So it's fun.
“I thought the league has done a great job so far. Everything is extremely well run and we had some good football tonight so it's something to be proud of.”
He was so sharp with his throws, he prompted NFL Network analysts Maurice Jones Drew and Marvin Lewis to compare Wolford to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Wolford spent time with the New York Jets last summer, but was apparently preparing for a life after football a year ago in the finance industry (he majored in finance at Wake Forest).
In fact, his LinkedIn profile still describes him as a "Private Equity Analyst at Teall Capital and NFL Free Agent." (H/T ESPN's Mina Kimes)
A handful of teams in the AAF were already interested in him and when he eventually was released by the Jets, the Hotshots were able to sign him.
He was the star of the night in Tempe, to be sure.
His performance against the Stallions turned heads on social media:
azcentral sports' Bob McManaman contributed to this story.
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