Many New Faces at Rampage Mini Camp
I drove up to watch the team work out on a Saturday morning. I got to the practice facility about 7 AM and the team had already been on the practice field for an hour! The players didnít seem to mind and there was a lot of energy on the practice field at such an early hour.
WR/DB Josh Bush, who is entering his third season with the Rampage, is one player who canít wait for the season to get underway. "Iím very excited," said Bush. "Iíve not only got something to prove to the people around here, because I didnít have a great season last year, but Iíve got something to prove to myself. I plan on stepping it up to the next level and making sure the crowd has something to come out to the game for. I really look forward to stepping on that field this year and being a powerful impact for the Rampage." As a rookie in 2004, Bush led the Rampage in receiving yards.
To say the least, there are a lot of new faces on the team this year. After last seasonís disappointing 4-12 record, head coach Sparky McEwen has spent the off season brining in some very talented veteran players on both sides of the ball. Among the new players are OS Aaron Bailey, who was signed from the New Orleans VooDoo, defensive specialist Marvin Taylor from the Las Vegas Gladiators and linemen Tim Martin from the New Orleans VooDoo and Winfield Garnett and Eric Gohlstin from the Philadelphia Soul.
Another new face is quarterback Raymond Philyaw, who signed a two-year contract with the Rampage after spending the last couple of year with the Chicago Rush. Philyaw is still recovering from shoulder surgery and is not allowed to throw the ball as of yet, limiting his contribution to the mini camp.
"Itís very, frustrating because I want to be a part of it," said Philyaw. "This is probably the first time that Iíve actually missed a mini camp. When I do have an injury, Iím always back in time for training camp or mini camp. This is a first for me, so Iím just going to just have to learn to go with it and be positive about it."
Rampage assistant athletic trainer, Kyla McDaniel, said Philyaw is coming along nicely on his rehab. "Heís doing very well. He definitely is progressing enough that he has to use some more complicated (exercise) machines. So, heís progressing nicely."
"I wish I could do more," Philyaw said, "but I understand the situation of the surgery and what it takes to be able to have a full recovery is being smart about it. Having trainers and doctors who are willing to help me back to doing what Iíve been doing all my life, I think everything is going well so far."
If Philyaw returns to the level of play that took the Rush to consecutive conference championship games the last two years, the Rampage could be on fast track back to the playoffs in 2006. Only time will tell.
Training camp begins on January 2.
Bush Named to WMU All-Century Team
Rampage WR/DB Josh Bush was named to the Western Michigan University All-Century team earlier this year. When he left WMU, Bush was the schoolís all-time leader in punt return yardage. The school celebrated 100 years of football this past season and Bush was one of 100 players singled out by his alma mater.
"I was honored," said Bush. "There are so many great athletes that came out of Western Michigan and Iím just honored to be named to a Division I university alumni team."
Bush did not attend any Western Michigan games this year, however. He had bigger things on his mind. The roof on his motherís home in Florida was damaged during one of the many hurricanes this past season and she lost power for about two weeks. Then another hurricane came through and she lost power for another week. Luckily, no one was injured and the roof is being repaired.
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 Writerís 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 ďThis Week in The World of Football.Ē