For the last four months, strong safety/outside linebacker Ronnie Saunders was forced to consider where he would be continuing his semi-professional football career. With the folding of the Indiana Nighthawks, roughly 40 players along with Saunders had their pick of nearly a dozen squads in the Indianapolis-metro area. For Saunders, the decision was between three options: Indiana Mustangs, Indiana Generals, and Indianapolis Tornados.
Mutual interest between Saunders and the Mustangs surfaced prior to the end of the 2012 MSFL regular season. Eric Hooks, a good friend of Saunders and star Mustangs quarterback, invited Saunders to play in the MidStates post-season tourney to get a sample of the team.
The Generals revamped their whole team acquiring former Nighthawks defensive coordinator Perry McMurren and roughly half of the Nighthawks 2012 defensive unit. The familiarity and the close relationship with McMurren coupled with a solid winning tradition made signing with the Generals a very probable scenario.
Saunders did express the possibility of leaving the MSFL and returning to the GDFL with the Indianapolis Tornados, his first semi-pro team. He has admitted to feeling like he did not get a fair chance to contribute as much as he could to the team but believes that his expanded knowledge base and more game experiences would give him a better shot to compete with the linebackers or safeties on the squad.
After weeks of talks and meetings, Saunders decided to sign with the Indiana Mustangs. He submitted the following statement:
The recruiting process has been humbling but the time has come to put the questions to rest. My choice to join the Mustangs is a decision for a long term relationship with a trusted, stable, and well-known organization where I can feel at home and do what I can to help the team both on and off the field. The Mustangs feel like a natural fit that will be mutually beneficial for years to come. I wish both the Tornados and the Generals the best of luck in the upcoming season but I believe that the Mustangs organization is where I belong.
An official agreement was reached on January 13, 2013. A future role in front office administration for Saunders with the Mustangs was also given consideration; he was asked to help keep the Nighthawks team together until the final week of the 2012 season. Saunders lead the community service efforts for the Nighthawks with his signature event coordinated with the local American Cancer Society and his talents off the field will be utilized to further the Mustangs name in Indianapolis area.