Ashley Jackson, Jett Zero, Ray Bentley, Beat Writers
Banner image by J.R. Lawless

Where do they come from, where do they go
Where are my rookies, Cotton Eyed Joe?
– lyrics to a song whose name currently escapes me, but I’m pretty sure is “Rookies (Electronic Dance Mix)”

It’s Friday afternoon here at Beat Team headquarters, and we couldn’t think of a better way to slide into the weekend then by introducing you all to another stellar six rookies! Eager to share their stories and start #MakingAnImpact on the Simulation Football League, today we’re getting to know O’Ryin Taylor, Ray Zor, LaDonovan Rayquan, Mac Anthony and Dax Lewis just a little bit better and see what makes each one of them tick. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, though – this page is for the rookies, and so to them it shall go!

Who are you and what are you interests?

Josh Riese: My name is Josh Riese and I live in Wisconsin, born and raised my whole life. Sports, music, the outdoors and video games are my favorite things. NCAA 14 is my favorite sports video game of all time and I don’t think it’s close. My favorite movies are Lord of the Rings, though the books are better. I’m getting married in August as well, so that has been a big focus of mine the last 6 months.

My name is O’Ryin Taylor; my interest is becoming one of the best defensive players ever in Simulation Football League!

~O’Ryin Taylor

Ray Zor: My name is Kyle, and my player in the SFL is named Ray Zor. Besides being a football fan, my main interests are exercise and video games. I’ve always loved being active in some way, so I’ve done a few different things over the past 8 or so years including lifting programs, rock climbing, MMA training, and other stuff. On my gaming life, I’ve been playing video games since I got the original Playstation console. My freshman year of high school I bought my first computer and have been PC gaming since then. I mostly play games like Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, and Madden, but I do play a variety of other games depending on what I’m interested in at the moment.

LaDonovan Rayquan: My name is Jeremy and my interests involve sports, video games, making youtube videos and hanging with friends.

Mac Anthony: My name is Mac, born and raised in DC. Interests include playing in b-ball rec leagues, playin’ franchise on Madden (wish APF had a new game with franchise), goin’ to movies, tryin’ new things!

Dax Lewis: My name is Jacob, I’m from Detroit, MI via Nashville, TN. I’m 34, married with 4 kids. I’m a life long fan of the game of football. It’s truly a passion and definitely one of my greatest interests. I also enjoy role-playing and server management on Discord (I run a RP server and co-manage an NFL simulation). I enjoy watching documentaries, anime, multiple sports and comedies.

How did you find out about the SFL?

JR: I was flipping through channels when I found the SFL. I was instantly hooked. I was amazed at how detailed Atlanta’s stadium looked and I wanted to find out more.

RZ: I found out about the SFL through a friend actually. He told myself and a group of other people in a discord server we share that his team was in the playoffs and linked us the stream. He had talked about the league briefly before but after watching the stream and asking him some questions about it, I was interested in participating myself.

LR: My coworkers and I were scrolling through channels on our TV at work and we came across “Simulation Football League” and we were curious as to what it was. We put it on and were instantly drawn in just because of how silly it was that people were actually commentating on a CPU vs CPU game. We also loved the names of the players.

MA: I was flippin’ thru channels and passed 11sports channel and a game was on. I was like “what is this??” I did my research on the SFL and loved the concept (as I am an avid franchise team player on Madden).. although I don’t create players, I draft and love team building and progression.

DL: A mutual server friend introduced it to me.

OT: I was at Hooters, and saw a game on.

What was the first game that you watched and describe the feeling you received while watching it?

RZ: I watched the Tulsa vs Atlanta wildcard game and I just found the whole experience to be super interesting. I had already asked a bunch of questions about how the league worked so to see how all the progression and planning panned out into an actual game was awesome. The fact that people could actually make and “be” the players on the teams was just the cherry on top that got me excited to get involved.

LR: Pharaohs vs. Fury was the first game I saw and I just found it funny yet entertaining at the same time – I’ve never seen anything like this at all.

MA: See the above answer: I was flippin’ thru channels and passed 11sports channel and a game was on, i was like “What is this?!?”

DL: Yes, it was the Alaska vs Seattle game from the S13 postseason. I was very impressed with the production quality and the commentary. The whole idea behind the SFL is nothing short of exciting. I’m happy to be a part of it. The first NFL game I can remember is a New York Giants Monday Night Football game in the late 80’s. The Hank Williams Jr. theme caught my attention. I remember the awe and excitement I felt as me and my older brother rooted for opposite teams. His team won. When I got Tecmo Bowl for NES, I drifted toward Houston as my favorite team because Luv Ya Blue was my favorite color. Imagine my joy when the Oilers moved to Tennessee in ’97. I’ve been a die-hard Titans fan since then.

OT: Baltimore vs Alaska

As before, my first game was watching Atlanta play against Oklahoma City. The stadium was beautiful, and I found myself rooting for the Swarm for no apparent reason. I was also blown away at the fact this was televised and had announcers. The whole experience had me wanting more.

~ Josh Riese

What positions are you trying to fill and why did you select those particular positions?

LR: QB / RB / WR / DB. I selected these positions because, well, why not? LaDonovan plays everything.

MA: My first choice is WR (#routeGOD), then QB, then DE… in earlier football, I would create a player a WR from scratch and throw him in the draft and see where he lands. I have leadership skills and strategy for QB and DE cause I love pressure on the QB.. Defense wins games!!

DL: QB: Who doesn’t wanna be the face and leader of the team? RB: Because RB are workhorses, fearless and can be undersized without much drawback. TE: I’m a fan of old school, smash mouth, fight in the trenches football. Tight Ends are multi-purpose, strong and durable. This is my position of choice. LB: They are the QB of the defense, and are built physically and mentally like RB’s. DB: Playmakers. These are the guys who can turn the tide of a game in seconds. They are also important to special teams and field position.

OT: SS / FS / CB; I played these positions in HS and in college.

JR: My favorite position would be FS. I have been a big fan of the secondary in general, but FS has always been my go to. I would also play CB, WR or SS if needed.

RZ: My first choice is CB, then either FS or SS, then HB. I’m open to other positions as well, those are just my top ones. I like those positions best because those are positions my favorite players were. I’ll keep it brief because I could go on about each of these players individually for hours. Champ Bailey is my favorite player of all time, followed extremely closely by LaDainian Tomlinson. Others are Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, and a few others. All of them were awe-inspiring to watch in action.

Do you plan to get involved with the SFL in more than one capacity such as broadcasting, beat team or stats?

MA: I would love to be an offensive coordinator on a team. I’ve been doin’ a little scouting (very little). I currently have the game but on PS3 and I play it consistently, picking plays and offensive strategies. I think “run-block” offensive line is the best – in my opinion.

DL: Still unsure of what I might have to offer, but I am not opposed to taking a larger role in the future.

OT: Yes.

JR: Once I get my footing, I would be interested in learning more and having a bigger role.

RZ: Not at the moment. I have a lot going on with my living situation and whatnot coming up, so I don’t want to commit too heavily to more than just being a player until I have a more stable situation. I’m pretty interested in coaching, so I might try to edge into scouting at some point on the path to coaching eventually.

LR: Sure, if I can get involved with it in more ways than one I would definitely be interested.

What are your expectations from the team that drafts you?

DL: I don’t think I have any expectations. Who wouldn’t want to be drafted by a contender – but there’s something to be said about being a building block or a cornerstone for an organization to build off of.

OT: To be competitive, and to compete.

JR: First thing I want from a team is a fun group of people to watch our team grow. We all want to win, but having great teammates and leadership is equally as important to me.

I just expect them to be upfront and honest with me. Clear communication is something that I offer anyone I work with and I expect that in return. Other than that I don’t have any expectations. Whichever team I go to I’ll give my all to if there is mutual respect.

~ Ray Zor

LR: Perfection.

MA: My expectations is to be able to contribute not just on the field, but in strategy as well, providing input that hopefully is valuable to team success.

What values will you bring to your team?

OT: Hard worker, competitive leadership

JR: I would be an active teammate. Make sure I get my weekly progression in as well and an active presence in the locker room. I’d like to think I’m an easy person to get along with and keep things interesting.

RZ: Commitment, reliability, and an unbreakable positivity. I have only been here for 5 weeks (of this writing), but I have not and will not miss a check in and would put any amount of money on the guarantee that I won’t ever miss progression either. Regardless of winning or losing, making playoffs or not, being a star or not, or whatever, it won’t change that guarantee. Winning comes from work, and if you stop trying when you lose then you’ll keep losing.

LR: Perfection.

MA: Team first attitude, and most importantly a “learn more” attitude.

DL: Dedication, for sure. Leadership, if it’s needed.

How do you handle trash talk and adversity?

JR: Trash talk isn’t my favorite. I don’t really care if others do, to an extent. In a simulation league, it seems pointless unless it’s all in good fun. You can’t ultimately control how your player does, so it might be hard to back it up.

RZ: I don’t really have a good response to this, lol. I completely ignore trash talk to be honest. I don’t dish any out and I don’t care when someone tries to trash talk me. And I mean that literally, I don’t even register trash talk as something to even pay the slightest attention to. As for adversity, I would say I thrive in it. I take it for what it is, a challenge to grow and learn. When something is hard that means that the skills you have to deal with it are not sufficient enough yet. And luckily enough, challenge gives you the opportunity to actually develop those skills.

LR: Perfectly.

MA: Trash talk is just fuel to the fire.. kill em with silence, and burn their ass on the field. Destroying a team is the best trash talk ever, without sayin’ a word….

I learned a long time ago how to ignore the noise. Sometimes, my pride or loyalty clouds my judgement, but I know my limits.

~ Dax Lewis

OT: Love it; brings the best out of me

Why should a team select you in the draft?

RZ: If teams are interested in a reliable individual who brings a positive attitude into the locker room and is 100% committed to putting the effort in required to win, then I’m the guy you’re looking for.

I’m the one, like Keanu Reeves.

~ LaDonovan Rayquan

MA: If you want to win, that’s why… PERIOD.

DL: Please, I don’t want this to be misunderstood as improper or condescending, but that’s for them to decide. I can only do what is asked of me. Try to be a great team player and fill whatever role that is given to me.

OT: They’ll be getting a player with an endless motor give 100% all the time hard hitter / ball hawk.

JR: If a team is looking for someone who is easy to get along with and will do weekly progressions, look no further. I’m also willing to learn other roles once I feel comfortable as a player.

Where are you ranked on the Rookie Big Board and how many check-ins have you done?

LR: No idea.

MA: I now have 10 weeks banked via the rookie big board.

DL: Creeping up the rankings 😉

OT: Not sure the number but its towards the bottom for now.

JR: I believe I am 48th. I have 6 check-ins so far. I did miss a week in the middle, but I didn’t have a chance to get on Discord Tuesday or Wednesday that week.

RZ: I’m tied for #84 in weeks banked after having made 5/5 check-ins since joining in week 8.

What are your personal goals for your SFL career? Goals for your team?

MA: My personal goal is to be one of the best at my position, would love to eventually be a scout and/or an OC. Goals for any team that drafts me, is to be all in 110%, providing input and listening/learning as well.

DL: Personally, as long as I’m effective and can contribute to my team winning a championship, that’s all I could ask for in the SFL.

OT: Win championships and be one of the best defensive players ever

JR: My career goals are to win a championship and be a hall of famer. As for my team, I would love for us to make the playoffs every year at the least. Just making it in gives you a chance to win it all.

RZ: To be a solid, reliable, well rounded player. To encourage that same mentality and win one game at a time til we win a Championship

What is the most important aspect of being on a team?

RZ: Making sure your teammates can rely on you, making sure they know it, and setting the tone that we win together and we lose together. We owe it to each other to hold each other accountable for making progression and anything else required.

LR: Chemistry – and perfection

MA: Teamwork, providing input and listening to input as well.

DL: Camaraderie, friendship, brotherhood.

OT: Leadership

JR: The camaraderie. Going through it all with your teammates, having the inside jokes, watching your team go from the bottom to the top as a group.

Have you ever played sports? If so, what sports, and what were your positions?

LR: I played Basketball in high school, I played Point guard and Shooting guard.

MA: I played football and basketball growing up, played football up until 9th grade, focused on bball there after played bball all the way to junior college, then when i transferred to a 4 year university i focused more on graduating so i played recreational…

DL: I played RB/LB/TE peewee football, but I stopped growing at 5’8″ 115 lbs in high school, so I wrestled instead of playing football.

OT: Basketball and football. In basketball I played point guard and in football I played strong safety

JR: used to play football, basketball and tennis. In college, I played club tennis for a bit and did intramural everything pretty much. In high school football, I played WR. In basketball, I was a guard.

RZ: As a young kid I played a couple seasons of flag football and a few seasons of baseball, but after middle school I had a lazy phase until around 16 years old when I started getting active again. In flag football I played RB. I wasn’t terribly fast in a sprint compared to my peers but I had okay vision and decent agility, so I did alright but nothing to brag about. In baseball I played first or third base. I was pretty awful to be honest, the only thing I was okay at was making catches. I did bowl competitively for a long time though, from around 6 years old until I was 13. I won a few regional tournaments and finished 29th in the state in the 12 and up youth division when I was 12, which is basically my best achievement in sports. Even if bowling is not really much of a sport lol

Any shout outs or last words?

Shoutout to SFL in general, coolest group of folks. Everyone makes you feel at home, even if folks live on the other side of the US. #GreatPEOPLE

~ Mac Anthony

DL: No, thank you.

OT: Just hope I get drafted and get ready to work bringin’ home the championship. O’Ryin Taylor signing out

JR: I’ve met some really cool people on discord so far. I’m not sure that many would remember my name yet, but I hope I keep getting the chance to meet more people through the SFL.

RZ: Just thanks for being a great group of people in helping me get started here! Oh and thanks to Gib Leedoo for introducing me to this league!

LR: Looking forward to the season (and being perfect) – also, check out my less than perfect YouTube channel, JPostman425.