All it took was a cursory glance for Davonte Sapp-Lynch to recognize some of the names on the Spokane Shock’s budding 2021 roster, a list that includes several commodities that were groomed in the Southeastern, Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. Some, like Sapp-Lynch, were either given NFL tryouts or had brief stays before taking the winding road to the Indoor Football League. Sapp-Lynch, a 5-foot-8 running back who recently signed with the Shock, didn’t play a down of NCAA Division I football. But the former University of New Mexico Highlands and junior-college standout believes he’s just as talented as many of the Power Five products around the 15-team IFL, now the primary league for indoor football since the 2019 demise of the 32-year-old Arena Football League. An older brother — former Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch — has aided Sapp-Lynch’s confidence.
“(Marshawn) thinks I am better than he was,” Sapp-Lynch said when referencing is physical, hard-running brother. “If I was three inches taller and his size, it’d be a whole different story. “He is probably my biggest fan. A lot of big-brother-to-little-brother talks, is there when I need advice.” Shock owner and ex-Seahawks defensive lineman Sam Adams and Shock coach Billy Back are also the fans of Sapp-Lynch, whose voice, appearance and mannerisms are similar to his 34-year-old brother. He wears the same No. 24 as the five-time Pro Bowler and 2013 Super Bowl winner known for his famous “Beast Mode” moniker. Sapp-Lynch rushed for 541 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2019 for the IFL’s Nebraska Danger before signing with an expansion team co-owned by Lynch, the Oakland Panthers. The coronavirus pandemic halted Oakland’s inaugural season, and due to anticipated financial losses the team announced it wouldn’t play until 2022. Adams and Back reached out immediately, even though the Shock roster has a running-back room that includes Blake Sims, a former starting quarterback at Alabama.