Freeman joins former teammates with the Soul as he looks to fill Kizer’s shoes

By Anthony Caruso III
March 22nd, 2015, 12:49 PM EST

Brandon Freeman is just days away from starting his first season with the Philadelphia Soul. Freeman came across the state after the Pittsburgh Power folded.

“I feel like I’m adopted,” Freeman said. “There’s about five of us that are here. It’s good to be here, and it wasn’t that far of a trip. It’s good to be in the state for sure.”

Brandon Freeman Philadelphia Soul Kevin Tuno

Brandon Freeman taking a break from practice (Photo by Kevin Tuno)

Freeman, who played the past two years with the Power, became a free agent once the Power ceased operations. Shortly thereafter, he was the fourth Power player to go from black and yellow to blue and white.

At the moment, Justin Lawrence, Tommy Taggart Jr., Keith Newell, and Shaun Kauleinamoku are former Power players on the Soul roster. Former Power wide receiver Tyrone Goard was assigned to the Soul on December 29th, 2014.

However, last month, he signed a contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

“They made the transition a lot more comfortable,” Freeman said of his former teammates. “It’s familiar faces, but this is my fourth year in the league. I knew half of the guys on this team already from being in the league.”

Freeman is replacing Rayshaun Kizer, who became a fixture on the Soul defense in recent years. However, in January, he signed with the Arizona Rattlers.

Now, it appears like Kizer will not even make the Rattlers roster. He was almost traded yesterday.

Freeman has made the Soul team, and brings 241 career tackles, 26 pass breakups, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, and 14 interceptions with him.

“I have big shoes to fill,” Freeman stated. “Kizer is a great player, one of the greatest defensive players in this league. I don’t know if anyone will ever fill his shoes here. But I’m definitely up for the challenge. This is still kind of his team, and I’m sure everyone wished he was still here.

“I want to come in here and make a difference. I want to bring that ring back here, man.”

The defense is hoping to be much improved. They have a new defensive coordinator in Derek Stingley, who replaced Rod Miller.

Miller was in charge of the secondary and special teams last season. Phil Bogle, who is the assistant head coach, is in charge of the defensive lineman.

Stingley became available after being fired following the first game of the season with the Power last season. He was replaced by Ron James, who took the Power to the playoffs and defeated the Soul in the first round.

The Power would eventually lose to the Cleveland Gladiators in the postseason.

As a head coach, Stingley was 9-32. Yet, he’s regarded as one of the top defensive coaches.

“Stingley is the biggest pick up that we had in my opinion,” Freeman acknowledged. “He has a beautiful mind when it comes to defenses. Beau [Bell], Marco [Thomas, WR], Justin [Lawrence], SK [Shaun Kauleinamoku, WR] – Stingley was the biggest pick up.”

Last season, the Soul gave up 949 points on the season. They were also 2-7 on the road and went 7-2 at home.

They were the second-worst defense in terms of points allowed in the Eastern Division. The Gladiators and Power allowed less than 800 points last season.

Both were one of five teams in the entire league did not allow 900 points last season.

With the additions that the Soul made, they are hoping to be one of those team’s this year. In 2013, when Stingley last coached a full season, his defense allowed a league-low 254.9 yards per game and was one of the best in the league.

“He has defenses figured out,” Freeman mentioned. “Every year that he’s coaching, he’s had a top 3 defense. It’s more stress free for all of us here. I’m excited to see what happens. I think we’re going to do big things.”

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