ELF: Homegrown Hero Series – Stuttgart Surge’s Sparkplug Yannick Mayr

The semi-finals are upon us in the European League of Football. As four teams remain looking to hoist the 2023 trophy, we’ll continue to highlight the league’s best international players, as the ELF Homegrown Hero series aims to shine a light on those players outside of the US and Canada making an impact on the ELF and maybe even becoming champions this season.

One of the major stories of the ELF’s off-season was the talent influx heading to the last place Stuttgart Surge.  The catalyst was of course the signing of three-time German Bowl champion head coach Jordan Neumann.

Neumann has now propelled the last place Surge into the league’s semi-finals, in part due to him relying on the players he coached in in Schwäbisch Hall. One of the Unicorn carry overs this year was Austrian receiver Yannick Mayr.

Last week the Surge won the in the Wild Card round 37-14 in part due to a fantastic game from Yannick Mayr. The speedy Austrian had a beautiful 92 yard kick return touchdown as well as hauling in six catches for 78 yards, finishing the day with 197 all purpose yards.

The 6′, 198 pound, 26-year-old Mayr began his football journey in SalzburgAustria, with the Ducks in 2015 before moving on to Austrian powerhouse Vienna Vikings a year later. In four years with the Vikings, Mayr went from a relatively unknown to one of the best young receivers in the country.

In 2020, Mayr won an Austrian Bowl (in a shortened Covid-19 season) with the Vikings and began to look further afield for the next football challenge. He found it in neighboring Germany with the then dominant Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns who were led by head coach Jordan Neuman. Mayr was a key player for the Unicorns scoring eight touchdown and racking up 966 all purpose yards as they made it to the German Bowl before falling to the Dresden Monarchs. 

After a tough injury-filled season in back home in Austria last year with the Tirol Raiders, Mayr returned to Germany this off-season to play for coach Neumann and the Surge. The decision seemed to be the right one as the Surge have had the best year in their young history while Mayr has once again become a focal point for the Neumann’s offense totaling 56 catches for 848 yards and five touchdowns, while adding another 666 yards and a touchdown in the return game.

Overall Mayr has destroyed the 1k all-purpose mark totaling 1,562 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games for the Surge, proving once again to be one of Europe’s top X factor players.

Mayr sat down with us for a quick Q&A on his football journey and his thoughts on the 2023 season. 

AFI: How did you start playing football?

Mayr: I started playing football in my hometown Salzburg for the Ducks, where I played as a quarterback. Then I went to Vienna to join the Vikings as a receiver. After that, I played one year for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and one year for the Raiders Tirol in the ELF. Now I’m with the Stuttgart Surge.

AFI: What is your goal through the sport?

Mayr: My goal was always to play overseas. In 2019 I was very close to fulfilling my dreams by participating in the NFL international combine. Although I didn’t make it, it didn’t stop me from working even harder. I will always improve myself year for year. I know that all the grind I’ve been through will pay out one day.

What’s your favorite football memory so far?

Mayr: Through my career I had a lot of big games. I cannot say what was my favorite one. But every time I am able to step on the field with my brothers it is an unbelievable feeling.

AFI: What’s the future of Football in Austria?

Mayr: Austria is a football country. There are a lot of talented players. Our goal this year is to be on the top of Europe and we want to stay there for a long time.

AFI: What’s it like playing for coach Neumann again?

Mayr: To play for coach Neumann feels different. The way he coaches, the practices, the gameplans, the calls during a game, it just makes you feel so confident that you just go out there and ball out.

AFI: What made you choose Stuttgart this off season? 

Mayr: After I talked with Coach Neuman, I felt there was a big change coming to Stuttgart. I just knew it from my gut that this is the best option for me.

AFI: What’s the goal of the Surge this season?

Mayr: Nothing else but a Championship ring.

AFI: How’s it been being part of the Surge rebuild this year? 

Mayr: It’s awesome to be part of this team. The chemistry between us is outstanding. We build a real brotherhood in a few weeks now the whole organization is a big family. I think our fans can feel that we care and give everything for each other on the field

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and