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Player tries out for Rampage
changed from "Rampage Conduct First Open Tryout for the 2007 Season")
posted on ArenaFan.com, Sunday, August 20, 2006
The Grand Rapids Rampage held
their first open tryout of the off-season at their practice facility in
Kentwood, Michigan on Saturday, August 19. Most of the prospective players came
from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, but a couple of players made the
trip from as far away as Maryland and New York.
One prospective player who
didnít have to travel very far was LJ Parker from Grand Rapids. Parker had
tried out for the Rampage twice before and was even signed by the team last
year, but he was released before the start of the season. He then tried out for
the af2 Green Bay Blizzard, was signed by the team and then released once again
before the start of the af2 regular season.
Parker then signed on with the Battle Creek Crunch of the new Great Lakes Indoor
Football League. Battle Creek is located about 50 miles southeast of Grand
Rapids. He had a great season for the Crunch, leading the team with 47 tackles
and registering three sacks.
For someone who has played mostly offense in his career, the Crunch gave Parker
the opportunity to play mainly on defense. "I started all the (Crunch)
games on defense," said Parker. That consisted of 10 regular season games
and one playoff game. "Just getting out there and playing helps. The more
you play, the more familiar you become with (the Arena/indoor style of
Parker was also selected to play in the GLIFL All-Star game, which took place on
August 5th in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In that game, he returned an interception
for a touchdown, recovered a fumble and had three tackles. He played for the
West Team that defeated the East 49-17.
Parker went to Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids and then played college
football at Indiana University. He also has tryouts planned with four other
Arena teams, the Columbus Destroyers, San Jose SaberCats, Georgia Force and
Rampage head coach Sparky McEwen has been busy this off-season, scouting players
in arenafootball2, the AFLís developmental league. He has been viewing a lot
of af2 game films this year rather than traveling as much as he has in the past.
However, he and assistant coach Michael Baker did take the time to drive down to
Battle Creek a few months ago to see Parker, as well as a couple of other Crunch
players, in action.
"LJ has definitely gotten better since the last time he was here,"
McEwen said. "You can see the difference in his play. Heís got some
indoor experience now and we took note of him right away. Heís a young man
thatís been working hard to try and land a pro job."
Another player who tried out for the Rampage on Saturday was kicker Justin Rudy
from Saginaw, Michigan. Rudy played college football at Division II Ferris State
University in Big Rapids, Michigan, which is about 50 miles north of Grand
As is the case in the life of any kicker, Rudy and two other kickers had to wait
around until everyone else was finished with the regular tryouts before they got
their change to impress the coaches. In fact, some of the unnecessary lights in
the practice facility were even being turned off as the three began kicking. By
then, the place was mostly deserted.
Rudy had previously tried out for another GLIFL team in Michigan, the Port Huron
Pirates, who won the GLIFL championship last month with a perfect 12-0 record.
"I did alright, but not as well as I wanted to," Rudy said after he
had finished kicking for McEwen and his staff. "It was definitely worth the
drive (from Saginaw) and the cost of the tryout."
If he doesnít make the Rampage team, Rudy says he will look to try out for
other indoor football leagues. "Iíd like to keep going to more tryouts
and see if I canít make it somewhere. Iíd like to continue playing. (Signing
with another league) is another chance to play and to get looked at by a bigger
league, like the AFL."
The Rampage plan to bring two kickers into training camp next season and are
also planning to hold anther open tryout sometime in November. Kicker Peter
Martinez, who has been with the Rampage the past two seasons, is a free agent
and has not yet re-signed with the team.
2007 will be the 10th season for the Grand Rapids Rampage.
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