ALBANY — As the Arena Football League’s free agency period began Monday morning, the Albany Empire did not take long to make their first two additions, signing two local products in WR/KR Jordan Canzeri and OL Wade Hansen.
Canzeri is a graduate of Troy High School where he was a superstar running back for the Flying Horses, especially in his senior season. That year he racked up over 2,000 yards and 33 touchdowns and led his team to the state championship before heading west to Iowa for college. He again broke out during his senior season, running for 984 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games, leading his team to a 12-1 record, the only blemish being a loss in the 2015 Rose Bowl to Stanford.
He went undrafted, but was invited to camps for the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles, but failed to make any of the teams. He went to Japan to play for the Elecom Kobe Finies in 2016 and 2017, and now returns to the Capital Region.
“I feel truly blessed,” Canzeri said as part of an official statement. “To be able to continue to play the sport that I love in front of my family and friends is something I will cherish and not take for granted.”
Hansen comes to the Empire as a Brunswick native and an alumni of Tamarac High School, where he earned Section 2 all-star nods as a lineman. After high school, he played two seasons at RPI before transferring to Virginia Tech, where he earned a starting job midway through his junior year and held it through the rest of his collegiate career.
He too was invited to try out at NFL camps, for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Chargers. For the Steelers, he made it to the final round of cuts in training camp before he was released, and joined Canzeri in Japan for the 2017 season.
“This gives me goosebumps,” Hansen said. “There is no greater feeling in the world than being home and playing football in front of your loved ones.”
Both were part of the team’s open tryout back in January, according to head coach Rob Keefe. “Being a product of the open workout process myself, I fully believe in the system. Having guys like Jordan and Wade assigned to our team from an open tryout further solidifies the legitimacy of an open workout. Both young men have played collegiate football at the highest level and I know they are well-prepared for the next level in professional football.”
The terms of the deals were not released due to league and team rules.
The Albany Empire kick off their inaugural season at the Times Union Center on Saturday, April 14 against the Philadelphia Soul. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.