Vote for Godfrey
No matter the position, even no matter the continent, Dennis Godfrey knows what he's doing on a football field.
A little more than a month after finishing a season with the Saint Ouen l'Aumone Cougars in France's Elite Football Conference, Godfrey is in the running, and up for election, to be in the Arena Football League All-Star Game as an offensive lineman/fullback with the San Jose SaberCats.
A ballot, which can be submitted once per voter per day, can be found at allstar.afl-global.com. Godfrey is vying to make the National Conference All-Star Team and play in Honolulu on Nov. 16 and, potentially as the AFL is still trying to make a second all-star game happen, in the first-ever arena football game in Beijing, China.
Godfrey, who was a tight end and defensive lineman, along with star basketball player, at Lee County High School, then a defensive lineman turned offensive tackle at Wake Forest, was a two-way lineman and player/coach with Saint Ouen l'Aumone.
"It was a great experience," Godfrey said. "We played in front of really great fans and it was great being an ambassador for the game."
Godfrey, age 25, said trying to see everything as a coach, while being in the trenches himself, was certainly a new challenge. Making European players, some young, some veterans, better thanks to his knowledge of the game was worth it.
"It was unbelievable experience, knowing I can put teammates in the best position for us to win," he said, "and the experience on my resume, it'll help a great deal if I want to go into coaching after my football career."
The Cougar season ended on June 1. Godfrey left Paris on June 3 and after 17 hours of flying, was in San Jose signing paperwork at 6:30 a.m. June 4. He hit the field for a tryout, with the SaberCats looking at him for guard, center or tight end, then accepted a contract.
After a few games on the bench, injuries to the line and at fullback gave Godfrey his chance - as a 6-foot-3, 335-pound fullback.
In arena football, even more so than any other level of football, fullback is a blocking position. Protecting the quarterback, whether that's helping versus a nose guard or picking up a blitzing linebacker, is Godfrey's main job.
A game at Pittsburgh on July 13 was Godfrey's first game seeing lots of playing time. It worked perfectly as it was the first time his family had seen him since he went to France.
"My family drove eight-and-a-half hours to see me," Godfrey said.
Godfrey got one carry for one yard. More importantly, San Jose beat Pittsburgh 78-20 with SaberCat quarterbacks going 23-for-31 with 258 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and one sack.
Following a loss on Saturday to Philadelphia, San Jose is 12-5 with one regular season game left and in position for a wild card spot into the eight-team AFL playoffs which culminate in ArenaBowl XXVI in Orlando Aug. 17.
The All-Star nomination surprised Godfrey. At the same time, he says it can't be a focus of his now.
"Honestly, it's still a shock," Godfrey said. "I was at my locker (after practice on Tuesday) and a player came up and said, 'how does it feel to be an all-star?' and I had no idea what he was talking about."
"For the time I've been here (San Jose), this team is successful because it's really family-oriented. We're brothers. There's great chemistry and a good work ethic. The players push each other to be great," Godfrey said.
While Hawaii, China and, as with any AFL player, future career possibilities, can be distractions, everything is geared toward Saturday's game against Chicago, still just Godfrey's fourth in action as a SaberCat, and the playoffs.
"I've got to be focused to play to the best of my ability, to give my team it's best opportunity to win," Godfrey said.
The all-star nomination, no matter how the vote goes, is added motivation to keep working, Godfrey said.
"It lets me know hard work and determination pays off. If you work and believe, doors will open for a kid from Sanford."
- Send former Lee County football star Dennis Godfrey, now a San Jose SaberCat offensive lineman/fullback to the 2013 AFL All-Star Game. One game is confirmed for Nov. 16 in Honolulu, Hawaii. A second all-star game is to be determined for Beijing, China.
- Vote at allstar.afl-global.com