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Rampage Bring Back All-Time Leading Rusher FB/LB Chris Avery

Rampage Bring Back All-Time Leading Rusher FB/LB Chris Avery
Also Re-Sign DL Colin Bryant, WR Kenney Solomon;
Release WR Aaron Bailey, DB Johnnie Harris; Waive C/OL Matt Walls

GRAND RAPIDS – No man has played more games in a Rampage jersey than Chris Avery (Grenada, Miss.). He will extend that record in 2007 after signing a one-year deal with Grand Rapids. The fullback/linebacker is the all-time leading rusher in Rampage history with 209 carries, 744 yards and 39 touchdowns in 78 regular season games, and was ranked as the top free agent fullback/linebacker by’s Nathan Boudreaux.


“Getting Chris back was pivotal in our making a move to be the Central Division champion,” said Sparky McEwen, head coach and director of football operations for the Rampage. “He knows this league’s ins and outs, and he’s a tremendous asset because he can still play both sides of the ball at a high level.”


Avery’s career with Grand Rapids includes accolades and awards on both the individual and team level. The 6-1, 238 pound Kentucky State University product played his first season with the Rampage in 2001, helping to lead the team to the ArenaBowl championship. He established himself in the playoffs that year, leading the Rampage in all rushing categories (nine carries, 53 yards and three touchdowns) while recording a sack and three tackles.


In 2003, the Arena Football League recognized Avery’s outstanding play on both offense and defense by naming him to the All-Ironman Team. Two seasons later, he made the All-Ironman Team again after compiling one of the greatest seasons ever by a fullback/linebacker. Avery led his position in rushing yards (215), receiving yards (195), and touchdowns (17) in 2005. He also emerged as a defensive force that year, leading his position in tackles with 55.5, which ranked second highest for a fullback/linebacker in league history. Last year, Avery ranked fourth in the league with 50 carries and was fifth on the team and first among Rampage linebackers with 34 tackles.


“Avery’s been a guy who has done a lot for this organization,” added McEwen. “He has a relationship with the team that you just can’t break up. As for his relationship with me, he was the first guy I signed when I came to Grand Rapids, and we’ve been together through the good times and the bad times. Now we’ll be together for the good times once again.”

The Rampage made additional moves with other members of their 2006 roster, re-signing defensive lineman Colin Bryant (Clarks Grove, Minn.) and wide receiver Kenney Solomon (West Palm Beach, Fla.) to two-year deals.

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Bryant recorded seven tackles and an interception last season in only five games played. The 6-7, 270 pound lineman missed much of the year after suffering a knee injury. He joins the Rampage for his third year, having played for the arenafootball2’s Wichita Stealth in 2004 before being signed by Grand Rapids. Bryant played two years (1999-2000) as a tight end at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and split time between the Bismarck Roughriders and the Sioux City Bandits of the National Indoor Football League in 2003.


“Colin’s a guy who really helps us establish depth at the defensive line position,” said McEwen. “In his career he has run into so many unfortunate circumstances when it comes to injuries. He’s a lot like [Chicago Bears quarterback Rex] Grossman in that sense, and we’re hoping he can have a Grossman-like year with us.”


Solomon is entering his third year in the AFL and second with the Rampage. He broke into the league in 2004 with the Philadelphia Soul, making 11 receptions for 111 yards and three touchdowns in two games. After spending much of the 2005 season on the San Jose SaberCats’ practice squad, the 6-4, 200 pound receiver joined the af2’s Green Bay Blizzard for two games, totaling seven catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Solomon starred at Benedict (Ga.) College for four seasons (1998-2001), receiving All-American honorable mention honors in 1999.


“Kenney was a project last year,” said McEwen. “I’ve never had someone make so many highlight-reel catches in practice. We made an investment keeping him here last year, and we hope that it pays off this year.”


The Rampage also released wide receiver Aaron Bailey (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and defensive back Johnnie Harris (Chicago, Ill.), and waived center/offensive lineman Matt Walls (Eagle River, Alaska).

Courtesy of the Rampage