That’s the distance between Brady Roland’s hometown of Carlisle, IA and Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena: the home of the Iowa Barnstormers.
Over the past four seasons, Roland has been cementing himself as one of the best and most consistent receivers that the city has ever seen. Or, maybe it’s been longer than that.
Brady Roland: Hometown Hero
As a Carlisle native and Grand View graduate, Roland was turning heads before he arrived to, “The Well.”
“It’s hard to find a local talent, but when you find a local talent like Brady, its unreal,” Barnstormers coach Dixie Wooten said.
Before making his way to the Barnstormers, Brady Roland established himself as one of the best collegiate receivers in the country, and he did it right in his backyard.
Roland’s career at Grand View University, just 14 miles away from Carlisle, included a little bit of everything.
During his sophomore season, Roland established himself as a stand-alone talent. In just his second year in the program, he lead the team in receiving yards, tallying 72.6 yards per game and a total of 799 through the season.
The next closest receiver only earned 417 yards through the season: 384 less than roland.
Roland only went up from there. In his junior season, Roland lead the team to a national championship while averaging 95.4 yards per game.
That earned him a spot on the second team all-american list.
Although the ensuing season didn’t bring a second straight championship, Roland earned first team all-american as a senior, and averaged 97.3 yards per game.
“He deserves everything that people say about him and every award he is getting,” Wooten said.
Since Roland hit the field with the Barnstormers, he’s racked up more accolades.
Roland signed for Iowa straight out of college and played in the 2015 season, just three months after his final game at Grand View, but it didn’t slow him down any.
“It shows what type of player he is, but also what type of person he is,” Wooten said. “One thing about Brady is that he’s a great player, but also overall he is one of the nicest people that I know. He’s a great teammate.”
That’s part of what has made Roland a fan favorite. When the wideout isn’t flashing his gloves on the field, he can be found working his two jobs in Carlisle.
One of Roland’s jobs includes working at a restaurant called Stadium View, where he bar tends and serves food.
“It’s a pretty small town so you’re known by a lot of people,” Roland said. “We get a lot of regulars at [Stadium view], so I’ve known them before I even went on to Grand View and played here.”
During his first year with the Barnstormers, Roland was one of the top receivers in the league.
He averaged 55.3 yards per game, good for third in the IFL, and earned 14 touchdowns in the 12 games he played in, good for fifth in the league.
Those numbers earned him a spot on the all-IFL second team.
Iowa finished the year with a 6-8 record and missed the playoffs, though Roland remained positive because of the proximity to his family.
“Its cool [to have them there],” Roland said. “Obviously I have a pretty good crowd [at] every game, a lot of support. It’s just nice to be around my family 24/7. A lot of these guys come from out of town and don;t see their family, girlfriends, or kids for three to four months. I’m pretty lucky to be able to play here, and to play at home.”
In the 2016 season, the Barnstormers spiraled out of control.
After a 3-1 start to the season, Iowa lost 11 of it’s final 12 games, missing the playoffs for the seventh-straight season, and parting ways with coach Joe Brannen along the way.
That prompted the hire of Wooten, who has turned the ship around while utilizing Roland’s talents.
“I’m glad he has stayed here and knew what I was trying to bring as a coach,” Wooten said. “We wouldn’t be where we are now without [Roland].”
During the 2017 season, Roland came back with a vengeance.
The veteran had his best season yet, winning the league’s receiving touchdown title with 22, and racking up 56.9 yards per game.
He helped the Barnstormers set things straight and improve from finishing 4-12 to ending the year with a 13-3 mark.
Although the season didn’t end the way they wanted it to, Iowa qualified for the playoffs and were bounced by the Sioux Falls Storm in the United Conference championship game.
Roland re-signed with the Barnstormers for a fourth season this year.
He earned back-to-back first-team all-IFL spots in 2016 and 2017, and looked to be one of Iowa’s most notable signings for the 2018 season.
So far this year, he has proved it.
On top of leading the Barnstormers to an 11-3 record and a spot in the championship game for the first time since 1997, Roland has played exceptionally.
He is again leading the IFL in touchdown receptions, grabbing 20 of them, and is second in the league in yards per game only to a pass-heavy offense that holds Cedar Rapids’ Marquel Wade.
“It’s a lot more fun to play on the winning team for sure,” Roland said. “The first two years I think we won three or four games each year, but it’s cool to be able to see after coming to the IFL where we started and where we are now.”
Roland and the Barnstormers will take on the same team that bounced them in the playoffs last season when the Storm come into Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, July 7 for the IFL’s championship game: the United Bowl.
When asked if he signs a lot of autographs in Carlisle, the always humble Roland said no.
“Only on game days,” Roland said.
Stay tuned in the coming days as LWOS will have featured content each and every day leading up to the 2018 United Bowl on July 7.