D-lineman makes best of new shot

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Second chances don't come by very often and LaDrelle Bryant learned that lesson the hard way.

So the Calgary Stampeders hopeful isn't wasting any opportunity in his first pro camp.

As a stud high school player coming out of Muncie, Ind., the defensive lineman was recruited to play at Purdue -- one of the strongest NCAA programs.

He had it made, practising with the Boilermakers as a freshman and living the college lifestyle. But Bryant forgot the one thing that makes college so special: Education. After one semester, he flunked out.

"It was a different environment. You actually had to do work," said the 23-year-old. "I never had to do too much in high school.

"I didn't take it as seriously as I should of. It humbled me a lot."

Suddenly, the highly-touted prospect found himself on the outside looking in at the NCAA. The only place he fit academically was at a tiny junior college called Garden City.

He worked off his mistakes for two seasons with the respected program that also produced CFL interceptions leader Korey Banks and recently cut Stamps receiver Darnell McDonald.

Indiana State called before his junior season and Bryant became a regular during his senior campaign. He just finished school before arriving in Calgary last month.

"It was a good experience. I grew up at a lot in that first year at Garden City," Bryant said.

"Coming out of Garden City, I was still a few credits short of being eligible. So Indiana State waited for me over the summer to get those credits taken care of.

"I was recruited by a few big schools but when I was still ineligible that summer, people still didn't believe I had my act together."

Bryant has impressed Stamps defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan. In the pre-season game at Vancouver, Bryant took his game to another level, getting a solid pass rush going and recording a sack for a 10-yard loss.

Although the Stamps are deep at defensive end, Creehan is looking for a way to keep Bryant around. He will see plenty of action in tomorrow's rematch with the Lions and is in the mix for a backup spot.

"He made a strong case to make the football team," Creehan said. "At this point in time, I don't see him being eliminated."


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