ELF: Cologne Centurions sign ELF All-Star LB Zachary Blair

The Cologne Centurions of the European League of Football have made their first import signing of the off-season, bolstering their defense with the addition of the NCAA Div. II career tackles-for-loss record holder Zachary Blair.

The veteran linebacker has played in Europe since 2017 with stops in ItalyPoland, Turkey, Finland, Romania, and Germany. Needless to say, Blair is excited to be playing in Cologne.

“I want the Centurions and the fans to know that they are going to get the best Zachary Blair yet. I am extremely motivated to show this league what I can do. I am also very honored to have been signed by Cologne. I plan on doing everything I can to show them how much I appreciate the opportunity.”

The 6’2″ 220-pound linebacker was a key part of the Istanbul Rams defense last season, finishing second in the league with 127 total tackles. The well-travelled defender also finished second in the league with 25 tackles for a loss. To go along with his stat sheet-stuffing tackling ability, Blair blocked six kicks, forced two fumbles, and had one interception for the Rams last season, earning a 2022 ELF All-Star nod. 

In 2021, Blair played for the Stuttgart Surge leading the team with 66 total tackles and his average of 9.4 tackles a game ranked him third in the league. The 26-year-old defender also made an impact on special teams blocking four kicks. He is currently playing for the defending national champion Bucharest Rebels in Romania.

Before joining the ELF in 2021, Blair played with the Warsaw Mets in Poland for the early part of 2021. Prior to that, he spent part of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season in Finland with the Wasa Royals and recorded 14.5 tackles and 3 tackles for loss, in four games. Blair also played the last four games of 2019 with the Royals recording 31.5 tackles including 8.5 tackles for loss. He spent the first part of 2019 playing in Poland for the Bialystok Lowlanders making 58 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. In 2018, his first year with the Lowlanders, he had 75 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and four sacksThe record-setting linebacker first arrived in Europe playing for the Ancona Dolphins in Italy’s Division I in 2017 and immediately had an impact with 66.5 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks.

The native of Front Royal, Virginia, enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at UVA-WISE (NCAA Div. II) where he set the NCAA career record for tackles for loss with 77.5. He was named Virginia’s small college Linebacker of the Year in 2016 after amassing 87 tackles in 11 games. He also won the award in 2015.

Blair is the first import to be announced by the Centurions as they recently went through a shareholder restructuring.  It appears there will be many new faces joining Blair in Cologne this year as the team has already parted ways with head coach Frank Roser, quarterback Jan Weinreich, and receiver Louis Geyer. The veteran defender is primed to be a vital part of new head coach Khalil Carter’s defense in 2023.

Check out Blair’s 2022 highlights

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football