Austria’s Swarco Raiders sign one of Europe’s premier linebackers, AJ Wentland

Seven-time Austrian champions, the Swarco Raiders, have reinforced their defense with the addition of one of Europe’s finest linebackers, AJ Wentland.

Wentland spent the 2020 pandemic-shortened season helping the Kuopio Steelers win their first ever Finnish championship.

After missing the first two games of the season, Wentland went on a tear, finishing with 23 tackles in three games along with 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack. In the playoffs and championship game he added another 13.5 tackles in helping lead his team to their first ever Finnish title.

Before arriving in FinlandWentland was the heart of the Dresden Monarchs defense in the German Football League for two seasons. As he did in 2018, he led the league from wire to wire in 2019, with 205 tackles averaging 13 a game.  He had 17 in Dresden’s 42-14 win over the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes early in the year and 16 in the Monarchs quarterfinal victory over the Marburg Mercenaries. His 205 tackles was one shy of his own record of 206 tackles in 2018.

The 6’3″, 225 lb native of Rockford, Illinois was a standout two-time All American  linebacker with the McKendree University Bearcats (NCAA, Division II) where he was also a three-time All GLVC (Great Lakes Valley Conference) linebacker. Over three years he amassed a total of 412 tackles including 145 in 11 games in his senior year, 2017. He also had two touchdowns, three interceptions and six forced fumbles.

Wentland is excited about the move:

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be apart of one of the most professional and successful organizations in Europe. I’m ready to get to work right away and earn the opportunity to make Innsbruck my home for now as well as the remote future. I’m happy that my hard work has given me the opportunity to turn this into a career for myself. I’m ready to compete for a championship right away as well as many more in the future.”

Check out highlights from 2020 season with Kuopio Steelers in Finland’s Maple League

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