Feb. 6, 2013
Jacksonville Sharks Press Release
JACKSONVILLE - The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced Wednesday that the team has made two more significant additions in free agency, as veteran defensive back Tracy Belton and defensive lineman Dusty Bear have been assigned to the team’s roster on two-year contracts. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Tracy is a player whose performance over the last three years speaks for itself,” Sharks head coach Les Moss said. “He’s been a playmaking defensive back since he first came into the league, and we’ve seen plenty of him during his time in our division. We’re very excited to have him aboard.”
The 28-year-old Belton heads to Jacksonville for what will be his fourth season in the Arena Football League. He spent each of the last two years with the Georgia Force, and is coming off a stellar 2012 performance that earned him a spot on the All-Arena Second Team. Belton totaled 54.5 tackles (49 solo), nine pass breakups and a team high of 11 interceptions, returning those picks for a total of 124 yards and a score. He also recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and recovered a fumble.
Belton made his AFL debut with the Milwaukee Iron in 2010, making an immediate impact with 100.5 total tackles (83 solo), seven interceptions, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble return touchdowns, impressively leading the team in each of those four categories. In 2011, Belton led the Georgia secondary in his first season with the team, notching team-high totals of 101.5 tackles (92 solo) and nine interceptions. He racked up 124 return yards and a touchdown off of those interceptions, and recorded two interceptions in a single game on two separate occasions that season. Belton also ranked second among all Force defenders with 11 pass breakups.
Bear, 27, heads to Jacksonville for his fourth season in the Arena Football League after spending 2012 with the Philadelphia Soul. Bear started nine games for the Soul during the regular season, appearing in 12 contests overall. He logged a start in each of Philadelphia’s first seven games before battling through injury during the second half of the season. Bear recorded 19 total tackles (15 solo), ranked fourth on the team with five tackles for loss, and added three sacks. He also grabbed an interception, broke up a pass, forced three fumbles and recovered another.
“Dusty is a player who has played fullback, defensive end and Mac at a high level and can excel in all phases of the game.” Sharks head coach Les Moss said of Bear. “That kind of player always helps out with a limited roster. He had an outstanding season in 2011 and battled through injuries last year. We expect him to be ready to compete in camp, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to our team.”
Before heading to Philadelphia, Bear emerged as a breakout performer with the Dallas Vigilantes in 2011, earning a spot on the All-Arena Second Team. Bear racked up 11 sacks during the regular season - a total that tied him with the Sharks’ Derrick Summers for third among all AFL defenders. In addition to those 11 sacks, Bear totaled 43.5 tackles (34 solo) and 12.0 tackles for loss, grabbed and interception, recorded three quarterback hurries and a pass breakup, recovered a fumble, blocked a kick and notched two safeties.
Bear began his AFL career in 2010, spending time with both the Tampa Bay Storm and Alabama Vipers as a rookie that season. He totaled 2.5 sacks between the two teams, making his AFL debut in Week 2 of that season against Dallas. His first AFL sack came when the Storm took on the Orlando Predators in Week 9 of the 2010 season.
Before heading to the AFL, Belton enjoyed a standout career at the University of Massachusetts, where he started the final 41 games of his career in the Minuteman secondary. As a senior in 2006, Belton earned a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 First Team, racking up 77 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions and a pass breakup.
Bear spent his collegiate career at Western Kentucky University, where he capped his four-year career by totaling 50 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as a senior in 2007. He also hauled in a pair of interceptions and forced two fumbles during his final season with the Hilltoppers. A Florida native, Bear attended Venice High School.