In football or any other sport, there are players that you are familiar with from the outset, and some that come aboard later and make an impact. Add B.J. BcBryde of the Massachusetts Pirates to that list.
The defensive tackle arrived in the Bay State on July 19 to play arena football and ended up making an impact in the game two days later. He interrupted a snap at the goal line, made another tackle in the fourth quarter and played a huge role in a pass that was tipped away.
McBryde was a two-sports star at Beaver Falls High School where basketball was his true passion at the time, but he did not shy away from trying new things.
“I played basketball, I did track, tried out for the tennis team in high school actually,” McBryde said. “I was bad, I was bad at tennis.”
“I was 18 years old, [a} senior in high school, my basketball coach was trying to convince me that football was the route to go,” McBryde said. “My football coach had begged me since middle school to play but my mom wasn’t having it.”
With his mother, not behind him on his desire to strap on a helmet, McBryde decided to take matters into his own hands. Quite literally with a pen.
“I forged her signature to go to football camp my senior year,” McBryde said. That’s how I started playing football.”
It wasn’t long until he caught the attention of colleges for his talents on the gridiron.
“UConn came right around the end and I was one of the last guys to sign, I went there and played ball,” McBryde said.”Five-years later, I was lucky enough to sign an undrafted free agent contact with the [Philiadelphia] Eagles so it’s been a crazy ride.”
McBryde would go on to play for the Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Green Bay Packers, before entering the National Arena League.
Two of these teams have an eerie connection to McBryde as the player he emulates the most is a hall of famer who played for the Packers and the Eagles in his historic career.
“Reggie White for two reasons, McBryde said. “I grew up in the church, I’m a church-boy originally, he’s the ‘minister of defense’ probably one of the greatest defensive ends of all-time, I love him I love his game, I love how he played.”
McBryde also had high remarks for his former head coach Chip Kelly during his time with the Eagles.
“Chip Kelly is a mad scientist,” McBryde said. “When I got there, everything was about production. Everyday, he made sure you were drinking water, tested your hydration, he asked you questions about how you felt and if you’re getting enough sleep, he really built a good team”
McBryde noted the adjustment between both football formats saying that it indeed came with a learning curve when he came to Worcester.
“It was definitely a big adjustment,” McBryde said. “The rules are different from indoor and outdoor, but after about a week or two people can see I was getting the hang of it.”
But don’t take his word for it, Pirates head coach Ameer Ismail sang high praise for his defensive end.
“[McBryde] came in late but in the season but has been a great addition,” Ismail said. “His head coach at the [University of Connecticut Bob Diaco was my linebackers coach at Western Michigan. He’s a tremendous talent that has great work ethic, awesome attitude, and next level experience and pass rush moves. He was a tremendous teammate and player that does everything asked. Great to have him in our championship run. He was an instrumental part of our success.”
McBryde has hit the ground running in the National Arena League and hopes to continue his successful career in Arena Football next season to possibly get another shot at his NFL dream.