Thursday, July 01, 2004
By Gary Bond
The Grand Rapids Press
Jeremy Dutcher is one of the many Grand Rapids Rampage free agents this offseason, but the former Ottawa Hills High School graduate never considered signing with anyone but his hometown team.

"Grand Rapids is where I want to be," said Dutcher, who signed a two-year contract that will have him in a Rampage uniform through the 2006 season. No other details of his contract were disclosed.

"I didn't want to go through free agency because I'm in a great position with my family, friends and job here.

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"Proving the doubters wrong has been something I've had to do since my college days at University of Saint Francis (Indiana). The Rampage gave me an opportunity this past season and it feels good they think I'm worthy of keeping around."

The Rampage went through the worst season in the franchise's seven-year history in 2004, posting a 1-15 record. But the Dutcher, who had played in two AFL games before this season, had a productive year as a wide receiver/linebacker.

Dutcher finished third on the team in receptions with 52 for 633 yards and shared the team high in touchdown catches with Steve Smith and Josh Bush with 10.

Defensively, he recorded 18.5 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception.

"Dutcher is a quality player and Grand Rapids is a good fit for him," Rampage interim head coach Rick Frazier said.

Frazier, who is under contract until October, is one of the candidates for the Rampage head job.

Rampage general manager Scott Gorsline is expected to begin interviewing candidates next week and could introduce a new coach as early as July 15.

"Re-signing players for a team I'm not sure exactly what my coaching status will be next season is a little awkward, but the fact is the Rampage are still paying me and I owe it to them to do my job and do it the right way," Frazier said.

Until June 30, AFL teams could negotiate only with their own free agents, but now all teams in the league are free to talk with free agents, and signing begins in October.