FAIRBANKS — At the end of the 2008 season, the Intense Football League’s best wide receiver, Anthony Parks, had no intention of returning to the Fairbanks Grizzlies.
But as the organization changed, so did Parks’ decision.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver re-signed with the Indoor Football League team on Tuesday, bringing more than a third of the team’s 2008 offensive production with him.
Parks wasn’t considering a return to Fairbanks after he found out former coach John Fourcade would not be with the team, but current coach Sean Ponder called Parks and convinced him to take another look.
“I liked everything coach Ponder had to say, and I had a great time last year playing in Fairbanks,” Parks said.
The Grizzlies’ struggles with travel arrangements and housing issues during the team’s inaugural season were a little unsettling to Parks, who said the community “was really behind us as an organization. There just wasn’t that much of an organization.”
But Parks thinks the team is headed in the right direction now, which he believes will translate into success on the field.
“I really feel like this is the year Fairbanks is gonna surprise some people,” he said.
If that’s true, then Parks will have a lot to do with it.
In 2008, he lead the Intense Football League in receptions (99) and receiving yards (1,243).
Parks led the Grizzlies with 22 touchdowns — 21 receiving and one rushing. He accounted for 38.5 percent of Fairbanks’ receiving yards last season.
He added 41 yards on the ground on 10 attempts, and accounted for 36.7 percent of the Grizzlies’ overall offense.
“He was definitely one of ‘the guys’ from last year’s team that we wanted back,” Ponder said.
Though he topped the Grizzlies’ statistics last season, Parks said he wants Fairbanks to have a varied attack and is willing to sacrifice his numbers for it.
“Whatever role they have designated for me, I’m ready to play it,” he said.
Newly signed defensive lineman Asi Faoa is the first former Arena Football League player to join the Grizzlies from the league that canceled its 2009 season.
Ponder called the former Arizona Rattlers player the “steal of the century.”
Faoa’s speed in the 40-yard dash is one of the reasons Ponder thinks his former arenafootball2 player will be one of the IFL’s top defensive playmakers.
“He can run a 4.6, strong as an ox, can bench-press a house and lift a car,” Ponder said. “Teams are gonna have to make a game plan for Asi Faoa. If not, the quarterback will spend the game looking at the lights.”
Faoa, whose full name is Asiolefolasa Asoau Faoa, is one of the few Indoor Football League players to play significant time in Division I college football.
The 6-4, 257-pounder spent four years with the UCLA Bruins’ defense. He began as a linebacker there, but he was most effective as a defensive lineman. He amassed 33 tackles, five tackles for losses and two sacks for the Bruins and returned one kick for 23 yards.
The Grizzlies also signed a duo of cornerbacks Tuesday, Dion Myers and Daudi White.
Myers (5-10, 190 pounds) most recently played for Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. for two seasons. In 2007, his final year, he had two interceptions, 47 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Ponder said Myers will give the Grizzlies enough speed to play man coverage, though he lacks in physicality. On the other hand, the 6-foot, 210-pound White is expected to bring a physical presence to the Fairbanks secondary and be especially helpful in stopping the run.