James Bryant said he believes he’s accomplished enough this season in the Arena Football League to prove he’s worthy of another shot at the Canadian Football League or NFL.
Still, Bryant, who has played defensive lineman for the VooDoo, knows the road to a higher level of football isn’t that simple.
“After playing a full season on defense, it’s given teams a better perspective of what they could do with me,” said Bryant, who has 52 tackles and three sacks with the VooDoo this season. “Hopefully I get brought in as a guy that can play on somebody’s defense, but could also be brought in as a fullback. Or a tight end.”
Bryant is trying to treat Saturday night’s season finale at the Orlando Predators (6-11) as just another game, and not what it is: the winner earns the final Arena Football League wild card spot in the American Conference.
“I know playing in ‘The Jungle’ is going to be difficult for some of the players,” said Bryant, who played for the Predators in 2010. “But I know it’s a win or go home kind of deal. And I’m ready to win.”
The VooDoo opened this season with a 51-45 overtime win against the visiting Predators. In that game, quarterback Kurt Rocco connected twice with Courtney Smith for touchdowns. Since then, the VooDoo lost its next eight games, blamed by a mixture of key injuries in the secondary, up-and-down play by Rocco and a lack of finishing games.
The VooDoo have played much better during the second half of the season, and enter Saturday’s game at the Amway Center with a 5-12 record. But last Saturday’s 41-37 loss to visiting Jacksonville places the VooDoo in a losing mood entering the week. The VooDoo allowed Jacksonville to overcome a 23-point deficit.
Meanwhile, Orlando lost 65-62 last Saturday at the Cleveland Gladiators.
QB Garcia leads league
Orlando quarterback Aaron Garcia leads the AFL with 4,787 passing yards and 100 touchdowns. Two of his receivers — T.T. Toliver (1,590 yards, 27 TDs) and Prechae Rodriguez (1,509 yards, 39 TDs) — rank among the league leaders.
Rodriguez enjoyed his best game of the season against the VooDoo, catching nine passes for 176 yards.
VooDoo quarterback Chris Dixon, defensive back Eddie Moten, fullback Jeramie Richardson and Bryant are former Orlando players. Coach Pat O’Hara is the franchise’s former coach and won ArenaBowls XII and XIV as its quarterback.