Rampage Open Tryout Draws Large Crowd
With that many players trying out, Rampage head coach Sparky McEwen and his staff had their hands full trying to keep everything organized and flowing smoothly during the tryout session. Players rotated between three different areas of the indoor practice facility for various drills and other activities.
"Based on the number of signings we had over the free agent period, I thought that would have something to do with the type of turnout we had," McEwen said, "but we still had a great turnout. I think the guys understand that when you come to a Rampage combine, you’re going to get a great look (from our coaching staff). There were some talented athletes out there."
The participants came from a wide range of football backgrounds. From Division III to Division I-A and junior college experience to semi–pro experience, af2 experience and even experience in some of the other professional indoor football leagues.
Coach McEwen said there were about five guys who really stood out during the tryouts and he was also impressed with the overall talent level as well. "We were very impressed with the level of speed that we had in our camp. It was one of the faster groups that we’ve had.
"Another thing that we were impressed with was the talent level of some of the linemen. There were a couple of guys that we felt could be possible prospects in the AFL."
Since the beginning of the AFL free agent signing period on October 1, the Rampage have signed several linemen already, including All-Arena lineman Tim Martin from the New Orleans VooDoo, Winfield Garnett and Eric Gohlstin from the Philadelphia Soul, Bryant Shaw from the Colorado Crush and Alex Bell from Division III Hobart College. As anyone who follows Arena football knows, you can never have enough quality linemen on your roster, or too many of their phone numbers stashed in your Rolodex!
The Rampage have been busy signing free agents at other key positions as well. They have signed quarterback Raymond Philyaw from the Chicago Rush, OS Aaron Bailey from New Orleans, DS Marvin Taylor from the Las Vegas Gladiators and they have re-signed former Rampage FB/LB Chris Ryan. Ryan was with Grand Rapids from 2000-2004 and played the last two seasons in Philadelphia.
Grand Rapids will conduct a second open tryout at Amos P. Godby High School in Tallahassee, Florida on November 19 and a team mini-camp December 2-4. Training camp for the 2006 season begins on January 2.
Randy Snow covered the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League for ArenaFan from 2003-2008. He also covered the Fort Wayne Fusion of arenafootball2 in 2007. From 2004-2008 and in 2010, he was a member of the Arena Football League Writer’s Association and, since 2011, has been a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Randy lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan but will travel just about anywhere for a football game or a great football story. He runs the web site www.theworldoffootball.com and hosts a podcast with his son, Adam, called “This Week in The World of Football.”