Brackins going for two

Larry Brackins hauls in a TD pass in the conference final against Jacksonville. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Larry Brackins hauls in a TD pass in the conference final against Jacksonville. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 10, 2012

SOUL WIDE receiver Larry Brackins is playing like a guy who wants one more shot at the NFL. According to Ron Jaworski, a man clearly on the inside of such things, Brackins might very well get it.

In the regular-season finale, Brackins had four touchdown catches. In the conference final, Brackins scored a league playoff record eight total TDs in what Jaworski called the best individual performance in an arena game he'd ever seen.

But the touchdowns are only part of what makes Brackins an interesting candidate to play at the next level. He's a clubhouse leader and arguably the best special-teams player in the league. Working against him is that he will turn 30 in November.

"There are NFL teams that are looking at Larry Brackins because he's such a physical football player," Jaworski said, without elaborating. "He can not only be a strong receiver, he runs down the field and makes just about every play on kickoffs, too."

When Tiger Allen was with the Soul, Brackins was the odd man out on offense. He'd get into the team's red-zone package because of his size (6-4, 221), but mostly he was a part-timer on offense. When Allen left the team in early July to sign with the Eagles, Brackins was asked to fill the void.

"Opportunities," Brackins said. "My coaches give me opportunities. They put the ball in my hands and I just try to take advantage of it."

Brackins is the only remaining member of the Soul's 2008 title team. If the Soul can beat Arizona in Friday night's ArenaBowl, he will become the first player to win two championships for a Philadelphia football team since Chuck Bednarik (1949, 1960).

Brackins was a fifth-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2005 out of Pearl River (Miss.) Community College, but never made the team. He took part in a late-July workout for NFL scouts, organized by Jaworski, the Soul's co-owner and an NFL analyst for ESPN. With another solid effort in the championship game, perhaps he could land a spot in the outdoor United Football League restarting this fall.

The way he's playing, all Brackins needs is a chance.

"There's no question he could play special teams," said coach Doug Plank, who played eight seasons in the NFL and was an assistant for the Falcons and Jets in 2008 and 2009. "There are guys in the NFL that have done nothing but play special teams and had 10-year careers. Certainly, Larry could fall into that category."

 Home sweet home

Donovan Morgan hurt his ankle in the final game of last year's miserable 6-12 season. The injury ruined any hopes Morgan had of getting invited to an NFL camp.

This year, Morgan did not get an NFL bite, but he is playing for a championship in his hometown of New Orleans. Not a terrible consolation prize.

"My family is going to be there. Everybody is going to be there. It's just a blessing," Morgan said. "God works in mysterious ways."

Soul's Ironman

The league selected Soul wide receiver Jeff Hughley as the J. Lewis Small Ironman of the Year. Hughley started all 18 games and finished with 77 receptions for 1,001 yards, 2,885 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns. He garnered three straight Ironman awards during the regular season.

Call to the Hall

This year's AFL Hall of Fame class will be announced during Friday's ArenaBowl championship game. Soul offensive coordinator Clint Dolezel is expected to be among those who make the cut.

Dolezel is one of the top five quarterbacks ever to play in arena and was the mastermind behind the Soul's record-setting offense this season. Amazingly, he was not named the league's assistant coach of the year nor was Plank named the coach of the year. The Soul cleaned house after going 6-12 last year and were 15-3 this regular season.   

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