A Word With: The April Players of The Month
Our host George Marinos sat down with the offensive, defensive, and special teams players of the month of April to discuss their award-winning performances.
GM: I’m here with Bernard Jackson, the Hanover Rhinos’ April Offensive Player of The Month. Describe the feeling of winning this award.
BJ: It’s an absolute honor to win offensive player of the month, but to me, its bigger than begin one guy having a bit of success. I couldn’t do anything without the other 10 guys in front of me.
GM: This week, you have signed with the High Country Grizzlies of the National Arena League. The team is based in Boone, North Carolina, and has 4 games left in its season. Tell us about the pro football opportunity you are getting with the Grizzlies.
BJ: The opportunity of going pro has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid playing Pop Warner. I’ve always had that urge to stay hungry and prove that I have what it takes to make it to the next level. I’m just blessed, and thankful for each and every opportunity that’s given.
GM: What do you have to say about your time with the Rhinos?
BJ: My time with the Rhinos will never see its end. They’re family. That’s facts. Before I joined the Rhinos, I came from a team in Baltimore called the Maryland Redhawks. It was a tough start to our season. With only 14 guys on our roster, I found myself out of work momentarily. Only until I get a call from a friend, telling me about this organization in Hanover, PA and how they operate. I didn’t even know where Hanover was. (Chuckles). But since joining the Rhinos in week 5 of last season, I’ve been welcomed with open arms, and for that, I can’t thank this organization enough.
GM: How has your time with the Rhinos prepared you for the next step in your career?
BJ: My time with the Rhinos in preparation for the next step in my career is taking place as we speak, a long 7 1/2 hour drive to Boone, North Carolina is ahead of me, and I think back to every memory I have with my teammates, coaches, staff, anyone who was helped push me forward into making it to this next step. It’s not the NFL, it’s not CFL, but to me, I’m getting closer, I’m continuing to chase a dream. The money is cool, but that’s not what it’s about. And I say to all the younger guys on the team, keep fighting, stay hungry! Always be open to learn more. To my Baltimore crew, thank you for always having my back, but most importantly, to this organization. Thank you for having me. It’s not over. Who knows what God has in store.. .it’s not about me right now, it’s about this team coming from nothing, to pushing into the playoffs.
GM: Joining me now is Phoenix Russell, the Hanover Rhinos’ April Defensive Player of The Month. What does it mean to you that your teammates thought highly enough of your performance to vote for you at the end of April?
PR: It means a lot to me. To be recognized by my peers is awesome, for them to think that of me, it feels amazing, but I couldn’t do it without them.
GM: Was there a moment during the games that month that it really hit you how well you were playing?
PR: No, not during the games. After the games, I evaluate myself and determine how I did. During the game, I’m too focused on what I need to do to stop the other offense. Or make a play. I’m too busy studying what they do.
GM: What changed in your play from the first month to the second month that allowed you to win the award?
PR: I’m getting used to the style of play in this league. It’s a lot different then I’m used to.
GM: What is different about the style of play?
PR: There are a lot more styles of offense and a lot more pure athletes. So I really have to buckle down and go to the fundamentals. I can’t just go for the hits like I did in high school. It’s much more of a thinking game now.
GM: What are you most going to remember about your month of April?
PR: Probably when I told Dustyn (Lauver) before the game that I was gonna get a pick six and I did.
GM: And finally, a word from April Special Teams Player of The Month, Alex Elliott. What do you want fans to remember when they see your name in the Rhinos’ award winners section on Rhino Charge years from now?
AE: The field goal unit and kickoff unit were both on point. Adam (Day) did an excellent job snapping, and Jordan (Gardner) was perfect on the holds. We were all in sync with one another.
Remember fans, you can catch a new Wordy Wednesdays interview segment every Wednesday during the season, featuring different members of the team.