BSU Star Athlete's Road to Glory Ends in Pittsburgh
By Jovan Bland
Isaac Redman knows the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The former BSU Bulldogs football star was signed last spring to the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League as a free agent to participate in the Steelers mini-camp with hopes of making the final roster in the fall.
But the 24-year-old's dreams were dashed Sept. 5 when he was among 21 players cut from the roster even after scoring in a preseason game this summer. Redman was part of a handful of players who were signed to the Pittsburgh roster out of NCAA division II schools.
Although Pittsburgh is in the past, Redman's achievements are still noteworthy. Some may wonder why Redman's story is so relevant to Bowie students and alumni alike. Maybe it's because he was considered by many critics to be irrelevant to division II football and even the Bowie State Bulldog team. A teammate of Redman's, Steven Bailey, said that people had lost faith in the talent Redman showed entering Bowie in 2004. "He just seemed like he fell off... like he wasn't working out or keeping in shape at all," Bailey said. It is indeed true that Redman was labeled a "freshman phenom," being named the starting running back on a talent-rich team as well as becoming All-CIAA rookie of the year in 2004.
It was only fair to assume that after Redman's freshman season, we could all hope for four solid years of a strong Bulldog running game and more importantly a legitimate championship contender. Rightfully so, Redman and the Bulldogs took over the CIAA conference. The Bulldogs beat their then- rivals Morgan State University, won the Gold-bowl Classic, and played Tuskegee University in the Pioneer-bowl. Redman led the team that year, rushing for over 1,500 yards and becoming known as a tough, aggressive runner. Although the Bulldogs lost the Pioneer-bowl game, it was within reach to achieve a title as long as Redman was behind the offensive line. Head coach Mike Lynn had the utmost faith in his players especially the Paulsboro, N.J., recruit he landed two years before in Redman. Coach Lynn was not available for interview.
2006 brought a sense of insecurity for the Bowie State team with the loss of players for graduation, transfers, etc. But what was arguably the biggest blow to bulldog fans was the absence of Redman for the entire 2006 season. "I was looking for him in spring practices and the spring game," said a Redman fan. It was brought to students' attention that Redman would sit out the entire season. What was so bad about this situation was Bowie State had a big a big gap in their offense and even more notable some big shoes to fill in Isaac's.
Starting the 2006 season the Bulldogs found hope in another back, Nathaniel Queen, to carry the load of the running game on his back. "He's no Ike," said a former BSU player. "But he could get the job done week in and week out." The Bulldogs went through the strenuous weeks of the season with a running back that was aching for an opportunity to perform, and another back that was just yearning to be back on the field. It was unfamiliar to see Redman on the sidelines in the team jumpsuit instead of toting a football into the end zone. It could be seen by many fans in the stands that it was painful for Isaac to watch his team compete without him even though he had faith in his comrades.
The absence of Redman's hard running style was apparent, despite Queen's 1,000+ yard efforts. The bulldogs went 5-5 and did not get a chance to compete for a conference title. The team was left with another unfulfilled title dream and a sour taste in their mouths. The entire team had pondered if a championship would ever come to light without a stable defense and confident offensive scheme. This question was put on the backburner when news got out that Redman would return to the field next season.
2007 was set to be the return of a local star on the Bowie campus. Redman had burst on the scene once again as the starting back all while wishing Queen and other seniors a farewell in graduating. It was time to get back to business. Despite having an injury-plagued season ending early (3-7 record), Redman ran for 800+ yards and received All-CIAA first team honors. Isaac was back to his normal playing rhythm, even though he was noticeably heavier in stature. The coaching staff knew that getting Ike in shape would make or break his professional aspirations. 2008 was an average season for Redman and the bulldogs with only 600 rushing yards and a 6-4 record. Redman finished his career sharing carries with three other backs, all of younger age and classification. But still, he had faith that his accolades at Bowie would not go unseen or unheard in the eyes of pro scouts. Isaac Redman finished his career with 3,000+ rushing yards, and a handful of school/conference records and achievements.
Reached via text messaging after he signed with Pittsburgh, Redman talked about his good fortune:
Spectrum: Hey Ike what's it like to actually be an NFL rookie?
Redman: I mean, it's cool I guess (laughing); it hasn't all really set in yet.
Spectrum: Man it's got to be cool getting to practice with Willie Parker and Big Ben (Roethlisberger).Aren't you nervous?
Redman: No not really. I know this game and I should be good if I stay humble and true to the way I play.
Spectrum: Yeah, I got you. I've seen your pictures on the Pitt. Website man the whole experience is cool especially since a lot of people questioned if you were cut out for the NFL.
Redman: Man that type of mess happens all of the time. People will always have something to say about you no matter what you do. You just have to know your talents and believe in them.
Redman's story can easily be interpreted as a Cinderella story that has not finished being written. He has a long career ahead of him; and like his running style, he will encounter his journey full steam ahead.
For The Record
Redman's accolades include: BSU Records in Single Game Rushing Yards (218 vs. Livingstone - 10/6/2007), Rushing Attempts (37 vs. Tuskegee), Single Season Rushing Attempts (281), Longest Run from Scrimmage (99 yards vs. Morgan State) and Single Season Rushing yards (1,512). Some of his other accolades include CIAA All-Rookie Team (2004), CIAA Offensive Back of the Week (9/10/2005), MVP of the Morgan State game (9/10/05), Offensive MVP of the Gold Bowl Classic (10/22/05), Offensive MVP of the CIAA Championship (11/5/05), BSU's Offensive MVP in the Pioneer Bowl (12/3/05), Football Gazette National D-II Running Back of the Week (12/3/05), All-CIAA First Team (2005), Daktronics All-Southeast Region Team and Team Offensive Player of the Year (2004), All-CIAA First Team (2007), Daktronics All-Southeast Region Second Team (2007) and Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-Southeast Region Third Team (2007).