Last week, as the IFL season reached its conclusion, they handed out their yearly honors. Among the awardees was Ramone Atkins, the Duke City Gladiators’ rookie quarterback. In a saga similar to the events of the Patriots’ 2001 season, the young quarterback took over for an injured Nate Davis and did not look back, channeling his best Tom Brady impression.
Atkins threw for 1937 yards and 45 touchdowns while also adding 286 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. The Gladiators sneaked into the playoffs at the four seed before losing to the Rattlers.
Atkins’ Rookie of the Year honors provide hope for the Gladiators’ franchise for years to come. His honor was also a victory for the All-Star game he played in at the conclusion of his senior year, The Dream Bowl in Salem, VA. Atkins had a great season under-the-radar at New Mexico Highlands, throwing for 2123 yards and 21 touchdowns and adding 616 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. (Keep in mind the rushing totals count sacks, which the NFL does not do).
New Mexico Highlands is a relative unknown in the college football world, playing at the D2-level, so Atkins’ great season failed to catch the attention of the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and Hula Bowl. Instead, the Dream Bowl gave Atkins an invite along with other quarterbacks at the FCS, D2, and D3 levels. Atkins performed well in the game and the rest is history.
The Dream Bowl’s list of pros on their page not only lists players who received NFL opportunities, but also players who received chances in leagues such as the XFL, IFL, and even European League of Football. Partnerships between pro leagues and all-star games are commonplace, with the two obvious examples being the Senior Bowl and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Recently, the East-West Shrine Game also partnered with the NFL through their move to Las Vegas (something I podcasted about before, which you can watch here.)
With the Dream Bowl supplying indoor/arena leagues with so much talent, a formal partnership only makes sense. The IFL benefits from young stars playing great and from any subsequent movement to leagues like the USFL and XFL. The IFL and NAL can partner with the Dream Bowl and market the game as the starting point to reach leagues like the USFL and XFL. It’s not too far-fetched for both parties to make this claim as the XFL recently picked up IFL stars like Daquon Neal.
Just because the Dream Bowl isn’t producing first-round NFL draft picks does not mean the game does not produce great football players. Ramone Atkins’ strong rookie year performance in the IFL is proof of this.
Recently, our YouTube channel posted an interview with Ramone Atkins’ former backup Lorenz Stefan. You can check out this interview here!