Before last Friday, former FIU center Brad Serini held the program record for rushing by an offensive lineman. Serini picked up a fumble against Iowa in 2008 and rumbled for 3 yards before the Hawkeye defense brought him down.
The last time FIU right tackle Rupert Bryan literally touched a football was as a center at Glades Central High more than four years ago. The last time Bryan (above) carried a football was when he was a kid playing in the neighborhood pick-up games.
That all changed last Friday in Don Shula Bowl XI when Bryan caught a lateral from quarterback Jake Medlock near the Florida Atlantic 10 and barreled into the end zone for a touchdown.
Unless a Panther offensive lineman gets a carry Saturday against ULM, Bryan, a senior, will end his FIU career as the leading offensive lineman rusher. (Not really a stat, but let's give credit where credit is due). You can hear an interview with Bryan on the FIU Football pregame show at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. CLICK HERE to access the FIU Sports Radio Network.
Since practicing the play all last week, Bryan was ready when his number was called with less than six minutes to play in the second quarter.
"I wasn't surprised," said Bryan of getting the opportunity. "We were running it in practice last week in order to score points so I knew we were going to run it in the game at some point. When the play was called I was ready, let's go, let's score six points."
When Bryan was being recruited out of Glades Central by FIU coach Mario Cristobal, the Panthers coach promised Bryan he would get to run the ball at least once in college. Cristobal was true to his word last Friday.
"I remember coach making that promise when he recruited me," Bryan said. "For me to catch a ball and run for a touchdown was pretty nice."
The play almost didn't happen as a pair of Owls collapsed on Medlock and almost sacked the quarterback, but Medlock hung in there and got the ball off to Bryan.
"I was supposed to just take a couple of steps back and release on the play," Bryan said. "Jake got the ball off on time. He made a good play. I made an adjustment to catch it and get in the end zone. What was going through my mind was that as I was running to the end zone I saw the safety coming down to make the tackle. I was thinking about running him over or jumping over him, but I saw the pylon and fell into the end zone."
Bryan, who is good friends with Serini (below), had not spoken to the former FIU center this week, but the two have been communicating through Facebook. A big grin came across Bryan's face when he mentioned about talking to Serini on Facebook.
"I got a lot of Facebook messages from him congratulating me," Bryan said. "I remember Brad's rushing attempt. I saw the film against Iowa and he got hit pretty bad by the Iowa defense. I'm glad I didn't get hit like that and scored the touchdown."