The Philadelphia Stars allowed the second most sacks in the USFL last season. In just ten games we watched a banged up and ever-changing unit give up 29 sacks. Only Troy Williams of the Maulers was sacked more than Case Cookus in 2023. Apparently the loss of bookends Alex Akingbulu, and Gunnar Vogel meant more to the Stars than they realized at the time.
The Stars have shown unrivaled loyalty to the players they have signed with very few moves being made with any sort of haste. They would prefer to trust their players to get it together rather than look to make changes right away. However if and when changes come, they typically come in the off-season, in an attempt to allow the new player to acclimate to his new surroundings. With that in mind, there is a player who could be the perfect fit for the Stars heading into the 2024 season.
Casey Pierce, Embodies the Philadelphia Mentality
Casey Pierce is an offensive lineman who graduated with three varsity letters from Solanco High School in Quarryville, Pennsylvania under Head Coach Joe Pearson. Dating all the way back to high school Pierce was splitting time between guard and tackle, and playing wherever his staff needed him. He also wrestled and participated in the shot put. These sports indirectly better prepared him for life as a football player. It gave him another level of toughness and grit, while teaching him hand fighting, and grappling which can be seen in his game.
Pierce was named 2013 Lancaster-Lebanon League First Team Section 2 All Star He was nominated to the South Team for Lancaster-Lebanon League All-Star Game. He started 17 games as an offensive tackle during high school and played in 28 career games as a prep athlete. He was cited as a Solanco Scholar for Wellness and Fitness and would end up a member of the Honor Roll and Distinguished Honor Roll. He would then attend Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, about 2.5 hours from Philly.
Casey has continued to do everything he could to make himself a more viable player at the USFL level, whether it meant playing multiple positions or adopting long snapping on field goal unit as a secondary position to make himself that much more valuable. He would begin his career by playing semi-pro football in 2020 with “The Nation” in the NEAFL. After being out of football for four seasons, he returned weighing 360 pounds. In his rookie year alone he dropped 40 pounds. Below are his semi-pro highlights, you can certainly see he was capable of playing at a high level, but you will begin to see the bigger picture of his development as this article goes on.
Professional Career Begins
In his second season he spent some time with the Reading Raptors of the Elite Indoor Football League another team located in the great state of Pennsylvania. He would help his team to a Championship win in the EIF. During that off-season he worked with Todd Frazer of Frazer Fitness LLC according to an article written on Midnight-Moose6.webnode.page. Pierce played at 315 pounds for the Raptors.
In 2022 Casey had to branch out of Pennsylvania signing with the Salina Liberty, the eventual CIF Champions to begin the season, but he would finish the year with the Southwest Kansas Storm both with the Champions Indoor Football League. He also was working with a new trainer. Grant Smith of New Day Strength and Performance LLC. Knowing if he wanted to continue progressing in his career, the status quo that got him to where he was wasn’t good enough. The CIF as a step up from the EIF at the time, but it was still indoor football, and Pierce has made it clear his goal will always be to play outdoors at the highest level possible.
At first it looked like Casey would be playing in the National Arena League which was perceived as a chance to play against higher talent with the Columbus Lions. At the last second, the Lions dropped out of the NAL, and moved to the AIFA for the 2023 season, a drastic drop in level of competition. This led Casey to make the decision to continue pursuing other options, as he informed the team his intentions to sign elsewhere. This led the Sioux City Bandits to reach out and offer a contract. Pierce would choose to sign with the Bandits before ultimately receiving another offer that was too good to pass up, his first chance to play professional football outdoors.
Journey to Mexico
The Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional’s Dinos de Saltillo would offer Casey a chance to return outdoors, AND play a high level of talent in the LFA for the 2023 season. Not only did Casey get a chance to play outdoors he ended up helping the Dinos to a championship berth. Ultimately they fell short of a victory this time, but the offensive line wasn’t to blame on this day.
With Pierce up front to help lead the way the Dinos offense finished the season third in points scored. They also found themselves sixth in passing and rushing offense. He had played the 2023 season at 325 pounds, but this off-season has continued to work with Grant Smith to drop more weight, and improve his agility and speed. He will be playing the 2024 season at 305 pounds.
Fit with the Stars in 2024
Pierce has also played some nose tackle during his time in the indoor football leagues, which only increases his value as a depth piece on this offensive line. He can be used on special teams units and even be counted on to make tackles if and when the situation presented itself. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Stars use him as a member of the field goal block unit due to his experience trying to push the pocket on defense as well.
As far as his fit at the USFL level, with Jake Burton’s versatility, realistically Pierce could come in and either serve as your depth behind Burton as a swing guard/right tackle, or start at whichever position Burton does not play in 2024. He is also a candidate for the practice squad if the Stars like what they see but aren’t ready to commit an active roster spot to a new face yet.
At this point in his career, Casey is 28 years old, and fresh off of a championship run in which his unit also allowed the least sacks in the LFA. He can operate as a swing guard, and play right tackle, with experience playing defensive tackle if there was ever an emergency situation, or he was needed on special teams. He can also handle the snapping for field goals and extra points if needed. Sounds like a pretty solid addition to me. You can reach Casey by clicking his name anywhere in this article.
If you enjoyed this article, and learning more about Casey Pierce, check out this interview with the man himself.