Lonnie Turner took a very unique route to the WLAF after playing for Cal Poly Pomona under Roman Gabriel: He played in the USFL from 1983 to 1985. During that period he played one season each for LA (3 catches for 41 yards), Oklahoma (27 receptions for 399 yards and 2 TDs), and Denver (29 receptions for 388 yards). After brief stops with the Cardinals and later the Atlanta Falcons, he’d join the Arena football league, and play for Pittsburgh in 1988. Boasting experience in the Run N Shoot offense, Lonnie signed with the Lions in 1990, but was unable to make the squad. This however got him back onto the radar of the WLAF, and the New York- New Jersey Knights who were coached by former Lions offensive coordinator Mouse Davis.
Lonnie was selected in the WLAF supplemental draft by the Knights. A long in the tooth veteran at 30 years old, Lonnie was one of the oldest players on the team. He paid dividends in 1991, leading NY-NJ with 41 receptions (5th in league) for 629 yards (7th) and caught his only touchdown of the season versus the Montreal Machine. In 1992, Lonnie caught 36 passes for 437 yards and 2 TDs- including a 50 yarder.
With the WLAF reorganizing after the 1992 season, Turner packed his bags for a quick stop with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL in 1993. He posted 27 receptions for 420 yards and 2 TDs, 11 kick returns for 196 yards, and 38 punts for 270 yards. – As a pro, this represented his most productive season- but this was his first and last foray into the CFL.
A few years passed, and Lonnie appears again in the Arena Football League. This time he picks up in 1996 with the Tampa Bay Storm, and along with that 43 receptions for 576 yards and 9 TDs. He’d join the Nashville Kats in 1997 and play there through 1998. With the Kats in 1997 he’d have another solid season (35 receptions, 485 yards, 9 TDs, 28 kick returns, 460 yards, and 1 TD), and then close out his career playing football with one final season in Nashville with 20 receptions for 193 yards and 3 TDs, and 16 kick returns for 251 yards.
I have been tracking Lonnie for some time. With his unique and interesting playing history, I figured that he’d at least be on Wikipedia, but his trail is mysteriously cold. Even USFL fans couldn’t tell me where he was at. It didn’t help that there are actually other Lonnie Turners out there in the world who played and coached football, but after a lot of perseverance, I was able to find him coaching in Los Angeles. He’s apparently spent a lot of time at the high school level and has now climbed into the college ranks.
Pete Thomas is an intriguing quarterback prospect with a history reminiscent of former pocket passer- Pitt QB Tom Savage. A rare 2 school transfer, Thomas’ long march originally started with the Colorado State in 2010. He’d spend two years with the Rams and play in 21 games. Pete put up a decent statline, going 414/652, for 9117 yards, with 36 TDs to 36 picks. Sitting out a year, Thomas played in 9 games in 2013 for the NC State Wolfpack. He’d throw 9 TDs, and complete 149 of 247 attempts.
Thomas again changed gears after the 2013 campaign, and transferred to Louisiana-Monroe. Pete had a good year with the Warhawks, with 301 completions on 501 attempts, 3181 yards and 14 touchdowns. Going undrafted in 2015, Pete was an early mini-camp arm for the San Diego Chargers and New York Giants, but was unable to stick.
Eventually Pete signed with the Minnesota Havok of the Indoor Football League, but the team folded before it even took the field. Released from his contract he was assigned by the Arena Football League in 2016 to the LA KISS. Thomas came in during the first game of the 2016 season and didn’t relinquish the starting job all season, leading the team into the playoffs. Pete for the record completed 166 of 294 attempts for 2094 yards, 42 TDs and 8 INT. As the Arena Football League went through a massive reorganization the LA Kiss bowed out of the league. Thomas had his rookie option exercised by the Tampa Bay Storm for 2017.
With time running out on the Talons franchise to find an owner and the last few weeks of the season on the horizon, I was still cranking out cards for the team even through their final hours. I kept going to the games and cheering on the team, but they finished winless at home with some games ending in heartbreak, while others the team just got completely blown out of. The Talons had been completely decimated by injury, and by being only given the green light to play only a month or two before the season, the talent pool had been drained.
When promising prospect Colton Jones went down during the early part of the season, the Talons made a trade with the Iowa Barnstormers to grab Jeremy Schonbrunner. Since joining the AFL in 2012, Jeremy had spent time on the rosters of the Soul (2012), Talons (2013), and Barnstormers (2014). He’d also prove himself in the IFL with the Lehigh Valley Teelhawks gaining valuable experience and playing time. In college at Temple, Jeremy played in 38 contests along the line, and on special teams, with 9 starts coming at Center.
As I was getting the autograph of Shane Boyd for the umpteenth time after the game, Jeremy commented on my cards and said, “If you make one of me, I’ll pay you for it!”, so I set out to make it happen. In person, with both legs in protective knee braces, Jeremy looks like a stout machine, but there were very few photos of him in action, so I really had to work hard to find something. Unfortunately I was not able to make the final game due to illness, so I contacted him directly and sent the cards to Jeremy via the mail. He signed this card and had it back to me in no time flat. After the Talons ‘suspended’ operations following the 2014 season, Jeremy was signed by the Tampa Bay Storm.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.