Bombers sign five American players

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced on Friday the team has signed five American players – defensive backs Marquise Bridges and Travon Fuller, linebacker Michael Ayers, receiver Keytaon Thompson and offensive lineman Micah Vanterpool.

Bridges (five-foot-11, 190 pounds; North Dakota State; born: January 1, 1997, in Minneapolis, MN) joins the Blue Bombers after spending the last two seasons in the Indoor Football League, winning championships with the Bay Area Panthers (2023) and Northern Arizona Wranglers (2022). He also won four national championships during his college days with FCS powerhouse NDSU. A two-time MVFC all-star at NDSU, Bridges was part of Bison teams that went 70-5 during his collegiate career. He had NFL looks from the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers before turning to the IFL.

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Fuller (six-foot-one, 180 pounds; Tulsa; born: June 16, 1998, in Athens, TX) comes to Winnipeg after playing in five games last year with the D.C. Defenders of the XFL, where he registered seven tackles. Fuller began his college days at Texas A&M before spending the 2021 season at Tulsa as a graduate transfer. In his final college season, he finished with 42 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass breakups for the Golden Hurricane and then signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2022.

Ayers (six-foot-two, 220 pounds: Ashland University; born: December 31, 1998, in Columbus, OH) signed last spring with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. A star at Division II Ashland, he was the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 and was named to the AFCA All-America first team after finishing the season with 48 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception, eight pass breakups, 11 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

Thompson (six-foot-four, 217 pounds; Virginia/Mississippi State; born: October 23, 1998, in New Orleans, LA) first turned pro as an undrafted signing of the Detroit Lions in May of last year and then signed with the Orlando Guardians of the XFL on October 30th. The Guardians folded when the XFL and USFL merged to create the UFL. In Thompson’s last year collegiately with the Cavaliers he started 10 games and led the team with 78 receptions for 990 yards and two touchdowns. Named the top high school player in Louisiana in 2016, he played quarterback at Mississippi State from 2017-19 before transferring to Virginia.

Vanterpool (six-foot-six, 315 pounds; Hawaii; born: January 19, 1999, in Phoenix, AZ) was signed last August by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent and then released before the season. He first turned pro as a member of the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 2023. Vanterpool played five years at Hawaii, taking snaps at both tackle and guard spots. In his fifth season, he started 13 games at right guard and was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team after not allowing a sack or registering a penalty.

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