Former ICC running back finds success in pass-happy AFL

By Adam Gore/ICC Sports Information Department

Former ICC football standout Odie Armstrong has made a name for himself every time he has set foot on the field of battle throughout his career and his first season with the Arizona Rattlers has been no different for the gridiron warrior.

“This season definitely ranks at the top of my football career,” said Armstrong who will be playing for the National Conference Championship against the Chicago Rush on Saturday and with a win we will participate in Arena Bowl XXIV. “We have a great group of guys that are focused and know what it takes to win.”

Armstrong is enjoying a record-breaking season in Arizona. He continues to build on the Rattlers’ single-season rushing record with 312 total yards along with a franchise-best 20 rushing touchdowns.

“Teams around the league did not realize I was a running back throughout high and college,” Armstrong said about his record-breaking ground attack this season. “That has worked to my advantage over the past few seasons, but none of that would be possible if it wasn’t for the offensive line. I have been very fortunate to have a great offensive line blocking for me all season long.”

The Rattlers’ 17 wins (17-2) has set the Arena Football League (AFL) record for most wins in a season.

Success in the AFL isn’t something new for Armstrong. He lead the league in rushing in 2010 with the Tulsa Talons, rushing for 349 yards and 13 touchdowns on 74 carries while hauling in two touchdown catches. In 2008, he was named to the AFL All-Rookie team with the Orlando Predators after rushing for 102 yards and two scores whilst adding 258 yards and seven touchdowns on 20 receptions.

He also spent one season with the California Redwoods in the United Football League (UFL) in 2009.

After ICC, Armstrong transferred to Northwestern Oklahoma State where he helped lead the Rangers to a NAIA national runner-up finish in 2003 and was named to the 2005 NAIA All-American first team offense after leading the team in rushing with 1,230 yards in only eight games.

“During my time at ICC I was fortunate to have great coaches who gave me the opportunity to display my talents. Attending ICC was a great stepping stone in preparing me for the rest of my college and professional career both on and off the field.”

When asked about his favorite memory while at ICC, Armstrong struggled to hold back his trademark smile as he quickly recalled one of two game-changing moments for the red and blue.

“My favorite moment at ICC was against our rival Northeast. I was playing strong safety and had a late interception that sealed the victory.”

Another moment of glory for the former Indian came in a 6-5 victory over the Northwest Rangers. The two teams engaged in an epic battle in a rain-soaked contest that saw Armstrong march the Indians down the field on the final drive of the game to score the game-winning touchdown.

A photo of the scoreboard still hangs in the Indians’ field house from the historic victory.

While football has played a big role in his life, Armstrong is quick to point out three, soon to be four, key factors that have helped him on his road to success.

“My family has played a vital role in my success as a football player. No matter the outcome of a game or how I play on any given night they are always there as my biggest fans. There is no greater feeling than to have my support system there cheering me on.”

Odie met his wife, Natalie, while in Oklahoma and they have two children, Tyiashia (10) and Paytyn (3), and are expecting their second daughter in October.

“I am so excited about welcoming our new addition and adding another beautiful girl to my family. I love looking in the stands and seeing my girls cheering for me and I cannot wait to see a new Armstrong in the crowd.”

Armstrong remains humble knowing if it wasn’t for the love, support, and sacrifice made by many throughout his life none of the success he has enjoyed throughout his entire football career would be possible.

“I would like to thank my hometown of Vardaman for the unconditional support they have given me over the years. I also want to give a special thanks to my high school coach Mark Bray for his guidance and influence in helping guide me down the right path, for always believing in me, never giving up on me, and playing a special role in my life.”

“Words cannot express my gratitude for the unconditional love and support throughout my life from my loving mother (Doris), sisters, nieces, and nephews. I would not be the man I am today without their faith in me. I want to thank them for everything they have done and continue to do in my life.”

He hopes on August 12th he can show his gratitude with a special gift for those who have helped him along the way.

“I want to bring a championship back home to ICC and Vardaman.”