ELF: Stuttgart Surge bring back veteran LB Nikolas Knoblauch

The Stuttgart Surge of the European League of Football have announced the signing of German-Italian linebacker Nikolas Knoblauch. Knoblauch is reunited with head coach Jordan Neuman who he played for over the course of four seasons, winning the 2018 German Bowl.

Last season, the 5’10, 215 pound defender began the year playing for the Fuengirola Potros of Spain before joining the Stuttgart Surge. A groin injury forced him to miss significant time but in the five games he played, the 28-year-old veteran was impactful making four tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss, and forcing a fumble.

The Italian national team standout has been one of the most well-travelled players in Europe over the past half-decade. In fact, he has averaged two to three teams a year for the past several seasons bringing leadership and physicality to each stop.

The 2021 season was no exception as the 27-year-old had another typical Knoblauch year having played for four different teams in four different countries, winning three separate championships. The native of Böhmenkirch, Germany started off the 2021 season helping the Badalona Dracs capture the Spanish crown and then headed to Sweden to play for the Stockholm Mean Machines who reached the Swedish title game with Knoblauch patrolling the line of scrimmage. The eventual European League of Football champions, the Frankfurt Galaxy, signed him for their title run and then Norway’s Oslo Vikings came calling, and Knoblauch was part of the Vikings fifth straight Norwegian championship team.

Nikolas Knoblauch playing for the Italian National team in 2019 Photo: Lorenzo-Morbidoni.png

The 2020 season, although shortened due to the pandemic, saw the 5’10″, 215-pound linebacker also on the field for multiple teams. He had originally signed to play for the Milano Seaman (Italy) for the 2020 season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Italy’s season. Soon after though, Knoblauch was in Denmark playing for the Triangle Razorbacks. While in Denmark, the former Schwäbisch Hall Unicorn made his presence felt as he recorded highlight reel hits during the season, while also filling in at running back for the Razorbacks. He was named Danish National League All-Star for his performance at linebacker during the shortened season. Due to new Covid-19 restrictions the Danish National League canceled its playoffs, so Knoblauch went north to Sweden where the Örebro Black Knights signed him midway through their season COVID-19 delayed and shortened season.

Prior to this, from 2016 through 2019, Knoblauch was part of the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns historic run of four straight German Bowl appearances and two championships. In 2018, after a phenomenal German Bowl performance that included a fumble recovery touchdown, he was named German Bowl MVP.

During that stretch with the Unicorns, when Knoblauch was a vital part of one of the best defenses in the German Football League, he also found time to play the 2018 season in Italy with the Ancona Dolphins, leading the league with 81 tackles. He was also a key part of the Team Italy defense in an upset win over Austria in the European Championship semifinals in 2019.

Highlights from 2020 season in Denmark and Sweden

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