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Tampa Bay Storm name Lawrence Samuels as head coach

Lawrence Samuels, a recent addition to the Arena Football Hall of Fame after 15 years as a Tampa Bay Storm star player, was named the team’s head coach Thursday.

Samuels replaces Dave Ewart, who was fired Aug. 6 after three years at the helm. Samuels served as an assistant under Ewart in 2012, then his offensive coordinator this past season.

Now he’s the team’s sixth head coach.

“Lawrence has been a staple of the Storm franchise since joining the team in 1994,” Storm president Derrick Brooks said in a news release. “... We believe that he is ready to make the next step and take the reins as the team’s head coach.”

Before going into coaching, Samuels was a receiver and linebacker on three Storm championship teams.

“I cannot imagine being the head coach of any other team,” Samuels said.

He finished his career as the franchise leader in receptions (967), receiving yards (11,078), receiving touchdowns (160), points scored (1,076), fumble recoveries (32), forced fumbles (20) and tackles (455.5).

He also was the first Arena player with 1,000 receptions.

Samuels was elected to the Arena Football Hall of Fame this past season.

His coaching background includes two years as receivers coach at Central State University in Ohio and two stints as receivers coach at his alma mater, University of West Alabama.

Ewart went 22-32 after taking over in 2011 for longtime Storm coach Tim Marcum, who resigned amid a controversy related to inappropriate e-mails. In 2013 the Storm lost eight straight to finish 7-11, including a playoff loss at Jacksonville.

However, under Samuels, the offense finished among the league leaders in several categories, including total offense and rushing offense.

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