The five-time world champion Arizona Rattlers were assigned both defensive linemen Anttaj Hawthorne and Cliff Dukes for the 2016 Arena Football League (AFL) season on Wednesday.
Cliff Dukes (6-foot-3, 300, Michigan State) has been a mainstay in the defensive line for the Rattlers throughout their championship run. In 2014, he earned second-team All-Arena honors as a defensive end after collecting 42.5 tackles and a franchise-record nine sacks in 18 games with the Arizona Rattlers. He was also named Riddell Defensive Player of the Game in ArenaBowl XXVII after recording 4.5 tackles and a sack for a safety in the contest. In 2011, he earned first-team All-Arena honors and was named Defensive Lineman of the Year after recording a career-high 40.5 tackles and 12.5 sacks with the Tampa Bay Storm. In 2010, Dukes was named second-team All-Arena after collecting 34.5 tackles and seven sacks with Tampa Bay.
Dukes has spent time on the NFL rosters of the St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints and the Detroit Lions.
The Lexington Park, Maryland native went to college at Michigan State University. During his time as a Spartan, he started 35 games and collected 15.5 sacks.
Anttaj Hawthorne (6-foot-3, 325, Wisconsin) has anchored the Rattlers Defensive line since 2008. In 2014, Hawthorne recorded 17.5 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 15 games with the Rattlers and became the Rattlers’ career leader in sacks. Currently, he has 31 sacks through seven seasons with the team. In 2011, he was named first-team All-Arena after recording a career high seven sacks. He also earned second team All-Arena honors in 2010.
In the 2005 NFL Draft, Hawthorne was picked in the 6th round, 175th overall by the Oakland Raiders. Hawthorne played in two games in his rookie year before being allocated to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe.
Hawthorne was a four-year starter at the University of Wisconsin. He started the last two games at nose-tackle in his freshman year then moved to left tackle where he started 41 consecutive games. He earned third team All-American honors his senior year and was named All-Big Ten Conference three times, including a first team selection as a junior, and a consensus selection as a senior. He was the recipient of the team’s Jay Seiler Coaches Appreciation Award and named team captain his senior year.
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About the Arizona Rattlers
The Arizona Rattlers have won three straight ArenaBowl championship games and are proud members of the Arena Football League (AFL). ArenaBowl XXVII marked the team’s ninth appearance in the Championship game, winning in 2014, 2013, 2012, 1997 and 1994. For tickets, call 602-514-TDTD (8383), or visit www.azrattlers.com.
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