Nashville Kats Announce First Player Signing

NASHVILLE – The Nashville Kats didn’t venture far to sign the first player to the roster that will help lead the return of the Arena Football League to the Music City.

Former Tennessee State standout offensive lineman Robert Lacey has that designation as Dean Cokinos, new Head Coach and Vice President of Football Operations, starts to fill out the Kats’ roster.

“We want to be able to build our foundation around local area players,” Cokinos said, “and to have Robert as one of our early signings is a tremendous start to our efforts to construct a championship caliber roster.”

The 6-foot-3, 330-pound Lacey is a native of Mobile, Ala. He started his collegiate career at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. At TSU, he was 2022 Preseason All-OVC and was a member of the 2023 Senior Bowl Watch List.

“In the AFL, you have to be strong up front to have success,” Cokinos said. “We will rely on Robert to be a strong leader in the OL group.”

Lacey said he was excited about the opportunity to be a key member of the Nashville Kats in the city where he played collegiately at TSU.

“First off, I want to thank the Big Man up above,” Lacey said. “I am blessed to have this opportunity to play professionally in a city that I love. I’ve already started getting ready.”

Also signed by the Nashville Kats is former Texas A&M defensive lineman Zaycoven (Zay) Henderson. He played all four seasons for the Aggies, started as a freshman and play in all games as a senior with 25 tackles and 2 ½ sacks. For his career, Henderson had 106 tackles.

Henderson (6-2, 306) also has professional experience with the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League, the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and the Ottawa Red Blacks of the CFL.

“A dominant pass rush is the key to success in the AFL,” Cokinos said. “Zay is the model for the type of guy that we will pursue on the defensive front. He is a big, powerful and explosive player with a relentless motor.”

To help lead the return of the Nashville Kats and the Arena Football League to the Music City, the Kats tabbed Cokinos as Head Coach and Vice President of Football Operations on Dec. 21.

Making the announcement was Jeff Fisher, Nashville Kats Partner and President of Football Operations.

“As we went through the process, it became clear quite early on that Dean was the right person for the job,” said Fisher, the former Titans and Rams coach in the NFL. “He has for three-plus decades coached and worked in front offices on a variety of levels of football from high schools to colleges to internationally and, especially, a championship-winning pedigree in arena football. His experiences and knowledge will be invaluable from both a football and business perspective.”

The franchise acquired the trademark for the team to be called the Nashville Kats, a nod to its groundbreaking run with the original AFL. The Kats will play five home games at historic Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville with the season opener versus the Minnesota Myth slated for Saturday, April 27. The Kats will also play the Georgia Force on Saturday, May 18 at the new F&M Bank Arena in Clarksville.

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