Dallas Renegades Receiver Ryan Broyles Retires

The first day of Dallas Renegades’ mini-camp opened up with one of its most recognizable players retiring before stepping on the field for the first XFL game of the season.

Dallas Morning News Sports Reporter Joseph Hoyt tweeted on Thursday that a team spokesman told him that former University of Oklahoma wide receiver and Dallas Renegades draft pick Ryan Broyles has retired from football. The team will have the right of first refusal on Broyles if he would decide to return to football and play in the XFL.


He was going to have tough competition with a deep Renegades receiving core, but was going to be looked at as the veteran presence on offense to help groom some of the younger receivers on the team. His chemistry with quarterback Landry Jones and relationship with head coach Bob Stoops from their time with OU was going to be seen as a strength for them when he was drafted.

Broyles was drafted by the Renegades in Phase Five of the XFL Draft back in October where he was expected to team up with Jones after he helped Broyles earn two All-American honors in 2010 and 2011.

The 31-year-old receiver was a former second round pick of the Detroit Lions who played just three seasons with his last season playing football back in 2014.

The new look XFL unveils it’s team uniforms

Nearly two years in the making and on the eve of football activities starting up with over 500 players reporting to minicamps, the XFL unveiled the uniforms and helmets for all eight of their teams. Since January of 2018, the resurrected XFL has changed its appearance from the league it was nearly two decades ago. Internally and externally.  Today’s XFL is a marked departure from the original XFL in its approach, tone and overall presentation, and team identities and uniforms presented reflect that.

Anytime team uniforms, team names, colors or logos are presented for the first time, there can be a polarizing reaction to them from the public. It’s all very subjective. Sports fans have preferences of styles and particular color combinations.  Iconic brands and uniforms from teams like the Steelers, Yankees, Cowboys, and Raiders have a history behind them. It means something extra when a player puts on those uniforms because of the history and legacy attached to them. Hence the term rooting for the laundry. As a startup league,  The XFL doesn’t have the advantage of time served, but its uniforms will still be measured and compared to all the uniforms that have come before them and that exist today. There’s a fine line the XFL has to tiptoe around… be unique and original but not too radical. There will be criticisms levied against the XFL’s uniforms for all those things. The XFL, for better or for worse, based on it’s past almost two decades ago has a negative perception attached to it. So anything they present will be judged by some differently and harshly at the outset.  A  team’s uniforms or helmets are a big part of its overall identity.  Fans take sports uniforms seriously because there is beauty in them. There’s something about a uniform worn by a group of people that symbolizes oneness and togetherness. In sports, it’s the bonding of a team together with its city. As a start-up league. The XFL is trying to form a bond with football fans. Today was the next step in that journey.

The time has finally arrived. Let’s take an in-depth look and review all eight of the XFL team uniforms.

THE DC DEFENDERS

Classy look. Love the simplicity shown in this design. A very good choice. Less is more and it leaves an opening down the road for potential alternate uniforms that potentially incorporate a third color into the mix. Like the team name, which is supposed to embody all the great defenders in DC history, past and present, the logo itself is a hybrid as well and is incorporated nicely here. The team makes good use of a variation of the coat of arms and the DC flag. It’s a really nice touch. The uniform has a retro feel to it and yet still feels new. So many modern-day uniforms are very busy in incorporating several accented colors into play. This is the anti-modern day uniform but in a good way. The temptation here would have been to add a third color. Either blue for patriotic reasons or a black to offset the bright red and white. Interesting that the teams’ actual shield didn’t play a bigger part in the design. This one overall is a winner because of its less is more approach.

THE DALLAS RENEGADES

Good, but not quite what I expected. The red in the uniforms is a very unique combination with the powder blue color. Where the entire look stands out most is in the helmets. The Renegades blood-red eyes are piercing. They stand out from a mile away on what is a really nice looking helmet.  Three of the XFL’s teams have black as a primary base color for their jerseys in LA, NY, and Dallas here. The Renegades red is used as an accent color on the jersey and pants but the jersey falls a bit flat around the shoulder and neck area. The look in this area to me feels unfinished. The striping down the pants is a nice touch and best incorporates the teams’ three colors. The positioning of the stripe will look great when players are in full motion. I like this look and it could probably benefit in appearance from seeing the players wearing it, which we will see in the coming days at camp. Overall, I was just a tad bit underwhelmed. The overall look feels like it needs some tweaking.

THE NEW YORK GUARDIANS

Menacing yet extremely stylish. The helmets are very bold, and almost reminiscent of the USFL’s Michigan Panthers. I am usually not a fan of oversized logos on helmets (see the Bucs), but the size of NY’s logo on this helmet works perfectly. New York perfectly blended their three main colors of grey, red and black. The all grey road uniforms really stand out. The shoulder striping on them is excellent.  The Guardians logo kind of gets lost on the road uniform’s shoulders, because it is like colored but it’s a small nitpick. Another nitpick in relation to that is having the Guardians logo on the helmet and shoulders. New York could have gone with an alternate logo on their shoulder sleeves. Similar to what a team like the Ravens has. In the Guardians defense, the Patriots have their logo also in the same positions.  The Guardians secondary logo is used well on the chest portion of the jerseys. It’s worth noting that not only are the individual team colors represented on the team footballs but the team colors are also used for the league’s main logo on the uniforms as well. It’s a really nice touch and looks great on the Guardians uniform. It’s reminiscent of the original XFL league logo. This was a home run overall. So many teams in pro football have a black-red combination, so the concern for me was that NY would look too much like a knockoff version of the Cardinals or Falcons. I think the league got this one perfectly.  This is one of the better-looking uniforms released by any football team in recent memory.

THE HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS

I have a feeling that this could be one of the more debated and scrutinized team looks in the XFL. The helmet to me might be the best overall in the league. It scores points because of its tip of the helmet homage to the Oilers old grey/silver helmets. I also realize that one of the strengths of this brand is also perceived by some as its weakness. Are the Roughnecks a modernized and upgraded Oilers tribute team, or are they a blatant rip-off? The colors don’t scream knock-off that’s for sure. On the helmet, the colors of the H shaped rig and star work perfectly. It’s the use of colors in the rest of the entire uniform that is more hit or miss depending on your personal taste. Red and Navy are a time-tested color combination that have been a staple of pro and college sports teams for years. These colors always work well together and they do here as well, particularly with the Roughnecks home jersey. However, the road look is a personal miss for me. While the navy blue stripe works well on the home uniform. The red striping on the road uniform just doesn’t. It just looks very generic.

THE ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS

The team with the most unique name in the entire league and probably all of pro sports, this team’s logo is just as out there as the team name, but it works. Like the Renegades, the uniforms had such high expectations going in for me. The BattleHawks have great colors and a great logo. While the helmet certainly stands out for its glorious sword/wings combo, the uniform is much more understated. Perhaps that’s the balance there needed to be. From the neck down, St. Louis’ uniforms are as simple as it gets. It’s a paint by numbers type design. Dark home jersey, light pants. Light road jersey, dark pants. The overall look is pretty safe and simple. While it works so well for DC, STL could have used a bit more flair to their jerseys and pants. Overall, this has the feel of a uniform that will be enhanced by the bright lights of the Dome in St. Louis.

THE TAMPA BAY VIPERS

No team look in the XFL stands out more than Tampa’s, this coming from a team that appeared to be a complete contrast from the BattleHawks in name and in the logo. The Vipers are going all-in on the color green with two different shades of it playing off of each other. The light green helmets with the team’s fang-shaped V is fairly simple and works for the most part. You could argue that it’s secondary logo could have been on the helmet instead. The color gold works well as a complementary color. It’s the home uniforms that might take some getting used to. The road uniforms are a much cleaner and safer look. The greens act more as accent colors than the main base in the road look.  To the league’s credit, they could have gotten cute with this concept and tried to incorporate some form of scaling in the uniforms to reflect actual Vipers. Thankfully, they didn’t go that route. This is not a home run design, but it’s also not a strike out either. It’s really a matter of personal preference when it comes to the colors used.

THE SEATTLE DRAGONS

You got the feeling that this would be one of the more unique team designs in the league from day one. Seattle lands on white helmets with a terrific elongated Dragon starting from the bottom side of the helmet to the near top. Everything about this logo and the color combination for Seattle is bold. Navy blue is very prominent in the home uniform but nearly disappears in the road uniform. The one steady is the emerald green and orange combination. The home uniform is a very busy look color-wise. There’s a lot to take in. The wide orange stripe on the helmet almost seems unnecessary but works better with the road uniform, which is a more simplified overall design. This is kind of a Jekyll & Hyde design, with the home uniforms seeming like there is too much going on, while the road uniform looks like something is missing. As an overall package, the Dragons presentation is unique and fun. Nothing bland or boring about it. It’s one of those looks that might get more appreciation over time.

THE LOS ANGELES WILDCATS

The last team to unveil their uniforms and helmets. On their first day of camp preparations in Las Vegas, Wildcats Head Coach Winston Moss greeted Shawn Oakman by attempting to tackle him, so it’s rather fitting that the team that has the most fun in the league, would start a live simulcast on social media to present their uniforms, complete with a Vegas-styled announcer doing the coach and player introductions UFC style.  It was also fitting that Shawn Oakman would be the first player dancing onto the stage with a Wildcats uniform on. LA has a nice combination of colors in black, red and light orange. They work well together. The one thing that stands out from the design is the blood-red claw marks on the helmet subbing for traditional stripes. There are also claw marks down the traditional stripe area of the pants. The home all-black uniforms look very good. The all-white road jerseys are fine, but are not as dynamic as the home look. Although the design where the claw marks bleed into the color black is a nice subtle design.

FINAL SUMMARY

Overall there are some hits and misses in this group. New York stands out as my favorite of the bunch. The Guardians were the best in show. Overall, I think the league scored another victory on its way to February. The XFL is in its infancy stages as a pro sports league. They can lay a foundation and then build upon it. That lends itself to the uniforms and helmets that were just unveiled. The league could use feedback from its fan base and players to experiment and improve upon the uniforms they currently have. Either by changing up jersey combinations or by using feedback for future alternate uniforms. It’s what the XFL’s aim could ultimately be. To build a football league with the fans as it’s partners. Developing that oneness with the players and fans.

Representing H-Town: new XFL uniforms revealed tonight!

For XFL fans, today is the first day of Christmas as the new, highly anticipated uniforms were revealed tonight. Overall, most if not all of the uniforms were crisp and should generate some excitement for fans of this league 2.0 version.

One of the key marketing elements that every professional and NCAA team has to take into account is how will fans react to team uniforms and the XFL seems to take this seriously. Not only are the team names more “serious” in nature nineteen years later, but the team uniforms are by and large imaginative and colorful-key elements in attracting new fans to this league come February.

The Houston Roughnecks unveiled their home and road uniforms tonight as well and the first thing that attracts the eye is the bright silver helmets with the “H” and interlocking oil rig logo in the heart of the helmet. These helmets will no doubt shine brightly on game day (or night) and immediately command respect for the backbone of Houston’s culture-the oil industry.

The uniform colors are a combination of navy blue, grey and silver with the home jerseys being red in the chest, navy blue sleeves and a lone red star on the outside of the shoulders and grey pants, while the road jerseys reverse with a grey jersey body, red shoulders and a lone navy blue star on the outside on the shoulders and navy blue pants. The designers of the Roughnecks’ uniforms no doubt wanted to pay homage to the uniform colors of the Houston Texans, the navy blue of the Houston Astros and the red of the University of Houston Cougars where the Roughnecks will be playing their home games.

Hopefully fans in Houston in particular and the XFL in general will quickly start identifying with the Roughnecks as their sharp uniform look is a step in the right direction for a great inaugural season.

Flashing Renegades Black and Blue: Dallas Renegades Uniform Review

The XFL took their next major step to reach their 2020 season with players reporting to mini-camps for the first time Tuesday. Not only that, but the XFL revealed uniforms for all eight of their teams. Teams slowly unrevealed their uniforms in front of players, coaches, and media. One of the first teams that showed off their new threads was the Dallas Renegades.

New quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Jeff Badet came out on stage to remove the cloths from the models of their new uniforms. Those in attendance got to see that Jones will be wearing his signature number 12 while we saw that Badet will be wearing his number 13 jersey for the Renegades this season.

Let’s break down and examine the looks of the uniforms and how it lived up to and exceeded fan’s expectations.

Home Uniform

Let’s first examine the look of the home uniform as the first thing that fans can notice is the XFL decided to go with black as the main color for the body. This is mixed in with the light blue on the shoulders, the sleeves, and the sides of the jersey. The red stripe can be found on the side of the shoulders. The numbers are outlined in white with the main color being light blue and the name of the player on the back of the jersey will be black.

A big thing to note with the jersey is the name of the Renegades, players names, and numbers are all embroidered which has been popular with fans.

The pants for the home uniforms also showcases a black body that included light blue sides and red on the sides as well. The XFL logo has the X outline being light blue and the “XFL” letters being in red.

Away Uniform

The away uniform shows off a mostly white body. The shoulders are filled with black shoulders and red stripes while a black line going down the side of the body of the jersey. There are also light blur cuffs on the jersey as well.

As for the names and the numbers on the jersey, the Renegades name logo found in the front of the jersey is shaded in black. The numbers have a black outline and blue as the main color on the inside. The names on the back are in light blue.

The pants are a solid white that have a black and light blur stripe on the side of the pants. The XFL logo has the big X outlined with black and the inside black. The “XFL” letters are similar to what the home uniforms had with the color being red.

Another key factor to include with both uniforms is that they were manufactured by Custom Outfitters.

Helmet

The helmets are from Riddell that shows fans that the design of it was inspired by their logo. The main color of the logo is their light blue that includes a black facemask. The logo blends in perfectly with the side of the helmets. You can see the big stripe going around the top of the helmet with a thin red stripe going in between the black. The Renegades name logo in the front of the helmet was in a light blue color.

Overall Impression

This demonstrates to me, as well as with the other uniforms, that the league didn’t want to be over the top with the designs, but have something subtle in those uniforms that gets fans excited. I love the fact that they would use the black as their main color for the home jerseys as I would have done the same thing. The black looks slick while the nice blend of the light blue and the small red stripes on both the home and away uniforms really helps with them too.

Nothing would have made more sense than to have light blue as the main color for the helmet as it works with the black and white jerseys. The black and red stripes on the helmets makes a ton of sense and looks good on the helmet. I’m glad the league decided to use Riddell for their helmets are they are one of the best in the business in helmet equipment.

You can find the replica home jerseys on sale for $79.99 at Shop.XFL.com. Authentic jerseys with the number 20 will be on sale for $225 and will be available to buy on December 17th. If you want to customize the jerseys, they will be available at the stadiums during XFL games.

Mini-camps will officially get underway for teams on December 5th and run through the 18th before breaking for the holidays.

Handicapping the XFL Western Division quarterback battles heading into minicamp

Part two of my look at camp QB battles across the league, this time focusing on the Western Division. A look at the Eastern Division teams can be found here.

 

Dallas Renegades: Landry Jones, Philip Nelson

Dallas Renegades: Landry Jones, Philip Nelson

Landry Jones was the first player signed to an XFL contract and is arguably the most accomplished quarterback in the league. He reunites with his college coach at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops, in a match seemingly made in heaven. If there’s any player you’d imagine being QB1 the day he walks in the door at minicamp, it would be Jones.

Philip Nelson was taken as insurance during the skill position phase of the initial XFL draft. In a league like this, where quarterback play will be at a premium and you don’t really know what the game will look like quite yet, it’s important to have a competent backup.

Nelson began his collegiate career at Minnesota, a three-star high-school recruit out of that state. He finished his career at East Carolina and impressed in front of NFL scouts at the 2017 NFLPA Bowl. It wasn’t enough to get a bite from NFL teams, however, and this past year he plied his trade in the AAF.

With only two QBs in camp, unless Dallas adds a third, Nelson should get his share of reps as Stoops will want to keep Jones fresh. Nelson could be a serviceable backup, but make no mistake, the success of the Renegades this season will rise or fall on the arm of Jones.

Odds to start: Jones 95%, Nelson 5%

 

Houston Roughnecks: Phillip Walker, Connor Cook

Houston Roughnecks: Phillip Walker, Connor Cook

There’s a distinct size difference between the assigned Walker, who stands 5’11”, and the early-round skill position phase draft pick Cook, who is 6’4”. Whoever the QB is will have to handle a sizeable workload with head coach June Jones bringing his pass-heavy run-and-shoot offense to the Lone Star State.

The player who makes the fewest mistakes may end up being the player who takes the reigns for the Roughnecks’ first game. Walker is one of the more professionally inexperienced of the allocated QBs, so it should come as no surprise that Cook was drafted early to provide competition.

Both Walker and Cook were players XFL fans had eyed for the league prior to the draft. Walker, out of Temple, went undrafted in 2017 but spent some time with Indianapolis over the last two years.

In January of 2017, Cook, who began the season as a third-stringer for Oakland after being drafted in the 4th round, became the first player to make his first start in a playoff game. He bounced around the league thereafter, on and off practice squads.

Cook’s success in college and NFL game experience should theoretically give him a leg up on Walker, but it’s really going to come down to who fits best in Jones’s unique offense. And right now, that seems to be close to a toss-up. The other question to consider is whether or not Houston will add another QB to the room before training camp in January.

Odds to start: Walker 55%, Cook 45%

 

Los Angeles Wildcats: Luis Perez, Josh Johnson, Taryn Christion, Jalan McClendon

Los Angeles Wildcats: Luis Perez, Josh Johnson, Taryn Christion, Jalan McClendon

Unless Joe Callahan is released from the Detroit Lions practice squad this week, LA will be the only team taking four quarterbacks to mini-camp. There seems to be a clear line of demarcation between the top two QBs (Perez and Johnson) and the next tier (Christion and McClendon).

Perez has been one of the QBs most visible in his team’s community since being assigned to the Wildcats. He won a Division II national title with Texas A&M-Commerce in 2017 while completing 70% of his passes and throwing 46 touchdowns. He started seven games for Birmingham in the AAF but didn’t put up impressive numbers.

After the league folded, he was a camp arm with Detroit and Philadelphia. Johnson’s reputation as a journeyman is widely known. He has spent time with 13 NFL teams since entering the league as a 5th round draft pick in 2008. As recently as last season, he started three games for Washington. Even now, he’s still drawing interest from NFL teams, most recently with Detroit sniffing around in an attempt to bring him back (his XFL contract blocked such a move).

Christion and McClendon were both open phase selections by the Wildcats. Christion had some NFL draft buzz this April, but he went undrafted and signed with Seattle. Christion’s strengths include his arm and his ability to move in and out of the pocket.

McClendon, at 6’5” and 219 pounds, is an interesting prospect. He played at North Carolina State before finishing his career in 2018 at Baylor, where he started just one game. It was enough to earn him an NFLPA Bowl invite and a spot on Washington’s training camp roster. Is a position switch in his future? Or could LA be hoarding quarterbacks hoping for an injury somewhere around the league in order to work a trade?

Odds to start: Johnson 50%, Perez 40%, Christion 9%, McClendon 1%

 

Seattle Dragons: Brandon Silvers, Chase Litton, Joe Callahan, BJ Daniels

Seattle Dragons: Brandon Silvers, Chase Litton, Joe Callahan, BJ Daniels

In an odd twist, the player with the most NFL experience in Seattle’s camp may be the one least likely to begin the season as their starting QB, that being BJ Daniels. With Joe Callahan on Detroit’s practice squad, he may be placed on some sort of exempt list to start minicamp. If he finishes the NFL season in Detroit, he may have a decision to make in terms of signing a futures contract with the Lions (if offered one) or declining it to come to training camp with Seattle.

Brandon Silvers and Chase Litton were both allocated to Seattle, with Callahan and Daniels being open phase selections. Silvers played at Troy University and was off the radar enough that he didn’t even attend an NFL training camp in 2018, failing to parlay a rookie minicamp invite with New Orleans into a contract.
Silvers impressed with the AAF, however, and was briefly with the New York Jets in the spring of this year. Litton was not available during the XFL draft as he was on the practice squad of Jacksonville. He was released in late October and assigned to the Dragons prior to the Supplemental Draft.

Litton declared for the NFL Draft in 2017 after his junior season at Marshall, only to go undrafted. He spent time in Kansas City before hooking up with the Jaguars. It appears that whomever wins Seattle’s QB job will have very little pro experience.

Unless that person is Daniels. Like other teams in the league, it appears Seattle has opted for a slash-type player. Daniels was a 7th round draft choice of San Francisco in 2013 after a successful career at South Florida. Throughout his NFL career, he has been tried at wide receiver and running back in addition to QB. He could give the Dragons a wildcat wrinkle in their offense under Jim Zorn.

Ultimately, it seems at this point to be a two-man race for the QB job between Silvers and Litton, and even that may be generous. If Silvers can continue the momentum he established in the AAF, it could be his job to lose.

Odds to start: Silvers 60%, Litton 30%, Daniels 10%, Callahan N/A

Running Back Terrell Alex would like to demonstrate his explosive running style in the XFL

Running Back Terrell Alex

Terrell Alex thinks his explosive running style will be an asset in the XFL. Now, he will get a chance to prove it, as he has been drafted to the Los Angeles Wildcats through the recent supplemental draft.

Alex has had a diverse football career, going from Southern University in Baton Rouge, to Canada, and to the Arena League, and most recently to the LDFL. In short, he has been around. However, some may look at it as “football experience.”

When asked if he is fast, Terrell quickly pointed out, “Yeah, I’m still pretty fast, but I got a little faster man. I like my explosiveness. I think that’s what kind of set me apart, my speed and my acceleration ability.”

There may be something to this, as Terrell just completed a stellar season with the Inglewood Blackhawks of the LDFL. The Blackhawks won the championship, mainly through the speedy running of Alex. In the championship game he had 19 touches, for 173 yards and three touchdowns, which led him to be named game MVP.

Clearly, this is when the XFL took notice of his potential. Afterward, Terrell was scheduled to attend a private workout and then officially invited to the XFL Supplementary Draft. Not too long later, Terrell found out the LA Wildcats had drafted him while eating breakfast.

One thing for sure, if not for his speed Terrell Alex brings football experience to the Wildcats training camp. ” For sure, it’s a great asset,” Terrell agreed. “I’ve been in situations, regardless of what level. I know how to handle pressure when I facing adversity, so I’ve been the guy on almost all the teams I’ve been on.”

“I’m just ready to take it to the next level,” Terrell added. “I’m so ready. I’m so ready.”

We wish Terrell Alex well in the upcoming training camps. We will be following his progress.

The entire interview with Terrell Alex may be found in XFL Xtra Episode 13-2019 – Looking forward, looking back

XFL 2020 coming to Houston-who will lead the Roughnecks this season?

With the reboot of the XFL about to start play in little over two months, the Houston Roughnecks have assembled a veteran NFL coaching staff to lead this franchise through its inaugural season.

As the new season begins on February 8th, 2020, fans will immediately want to see that XFL 2020 is not like the original XFL 2001 (He Hate Me?).  With new rule changes and famous NFL alumni leading each franchise, XFL 2020 will have to make a quick impact on fans in order to survive its first season- and not end up as yet another spring professional footnote like the AAF which tried (and failed miserably in the end) to bring back spring pro football to American football fans.

The Houston Roughnecks are led by June Jones who returns to Houston after stops as a coach with the Houston Gamblers of the old USFL and an assistant coach with the Houston Oilers under Jerry Glanville.  Coach Jones brings a long and illustrious coaching resume to the Roughnecks including head coaching stints in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and being the winningest head coach in University of Hawaii history.  June Jones also spent the better of five seasons re-building SMU’s football program in Dallas.  As an early proponent of the “run and shoot” offense fans can hopefully look forward to a pass-happy strategy that will put points on the board each game.

Coach Jones pulls double duty as the Roughnecks’ General Manager and hired Chris Miller to be his offensive coordinator.  Miller, a veteran NFL quarterback with the Falcons, Rams and Broncos before retiring due to injuries has also worked as a QB coach with the Arizona Cardinals from 2009 through 2012.  Incidentally, both Jones and Miller have worked back at the high school levels after leaving the NFL coaching ranks.

Veteran NFL defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell rounds out the Roughnecks’ coaching leadership and will take on the same role in Houston.  Cottrell has been in the NFL coaching carousel for decades with stops in Buffalo, the New York Jets, Minnesota and with the San Diego Chargers.  Most recently, Cottrell worked as an assistant coach with the Birmingham Iron of the AAF, so hopefully he’ll bring some insight into the failures of that league with him to Houston.

Handicapping the XFL Eastern Division quarterback battles heading into minicamp

As go the quarterbacks in the XFL, so goes the league. The quality of play will be directly tied to the quality of quarterback play, and while the XFL was able to acquire some of the best talent available at the position (by paying a premium for it), it remains to be seen if it’ll translate onto the field.

We’re coming up on yet another milestone in the rebooted version of the league, as minicamps open this week. It will be the first opportunity for quarterbacks to test out the new rules and work intensely with their coaches and playbooks. All eyes will be on them.

In addition to a higher salary, each quarterback assigned prior to the initial draft has become the face of the franchise. Whether it’s attending fan functions, calling season ticket holders, or being seen on social media, those quarterbacks have become ambassadors for their brand.

One would imagine they’d have a leg-up in the camp competition at that position, but who knows? There are no holdovers from previous years; theoretically, everyone walks in the first day with a clean slate competing to start. That includes the quarterbacks.

The original XFL’s starting QBs by league end didn’t resemble those at the helm in week one, and it wasn’t all due to injury. So just because a player wins the starting job in camp doesn’t mean they have a long leash once the season begins, especially because of the high stakes for the first season of the league from the standpoint of both the league and each individual team.

But since the QB position IS the most important and most visible (and most highly-paid) position in the league, let’s take a team-by-team look at what QBs they’ll be taking to camp and the odds they’ll exit camp as the starter (barring injury). We’ll start in the East:

DC Defenders: Cardale Jones, Tyree Jackson

DC Defenders: Cardale Jones, Tyree Jackson

DC will apparently be one of three teams that will only have two quarterbacks in camp. Jones and Jackson are similar players in some ways – both have prototypical size and arm strength, and neither have been able to turn those traits into accuracy and consistency.

Jones was a fourth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2016, and with the likes of Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel in front of him on the depth chart, there was a thought that Jones could be the QB of the Bills’ future. Not only did that not happen, the Bills apparently had seen enough by July of the next year, sending him to the LA Chargers in a trade. Because of his limited game action in college, DC and head coach Pep Hamilton hope Jones, at 27 years old, is a late bloomer.

While Jones was assigned to DC, the Defenders picked up Tyree Jackson in the open portion of the draft. Like Jones, Jackson began his NFL career with the Bills after playing collegiately down the road at the University of Buffalo.

Jackson had draft grades as high as the third and fourth rounds (by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com) but ended up going undrafted. The Bills didn’t see enough in him to bring him back to the practice squad after he was released during final cuts. Just 22 years old, Jackson has the tools to be a starter in this league, but he may need more time to develop. Jones seems like a safe bet to lead the Defenders in their season-opener against Seattle.

Odds to start: Jones 80%, Jackson 20%

 

Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, Garrett Fugate

New York Guardians: Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, Garrett Fugate

Unlike their DC counterparts, McGloin and Williams are very different quarterbacks who may be used in different ways by head coach Kevin Gilbride. McGloin brings NFL and major college experience and is no stranger to QB competition.

He flourished in his final season at Penn State under Bill O’Brien, and parlayed that into a rookie free-agent deal with the Oakland Raiders. He made the team out of camp in 2013 and over the next four years, played in 13 games. He’s a pocket passer who won’t scare anyone with his running ability.

The same can’t be said for Marquise Williams. His straight-line speed at his Pro Day in 2016 didn’t impress, but at 6’2”, 220 pounds, he could play a variety of roles for the Guardians, just as he did with the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football.

Because of his unique traits, I’m not sure he’ll be a threat to McGloin for an every-down QB role, but he could end up playing a handful of snaps on offense and perhaps even special teams for Gilbride. The fact that New York took Williams in the skill position portion of the draft tells me the coaches may already have a specific role in mind for him beyond playing under center.

In addition to spending a skill position pick on Williams, the Guardians also took Garrett Fugate in the open portion of the draft. Most NFL teams take three or four QBs to camp on their 90-man rosters, so it’s no surprise most XFL teams will carry at least three among their 71.

Out of Division II Central Missouri, Fugate got a late start on the draft process in 2017 when his senior season ended with a torn ACL and MCL. He has worked out for NFL teams and honed his craft in both the CFL and The Spring League. Fugate may not challenge for the starting role, but he’s an intriguing player to keep your eye on as camp progresses.

Odds to start: McGloin 60%, Williams 30%, Fugate 10%

 

Jordan Ta’amu, Taylor Heinicke, Brogan Roback

St. Louis BattleHawks: Jordan Ta’amu, Taylor Heinicke, Brogan Roback

St. Louis figures to have one of the most interesting QB battles in all of training camp. Ta’amu may be the least-heralded QB to be assigned prior to the XFL Draft. He has just one summer in an NFL camp under his belt, with the Houston Texans.

He was one of the most acclaimed quarterbacks in the SEC his senior season for Ole Miss. He’s shown the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs, but he just hasn’t done it at the professional level. He’ll get to work with experienced offensive minds in St. Louis like Doug Meacham, his offensive coordinator and QBs coach. But similar to Ta’amu, this is Meacham’s first foray into the pro coaching ranks.

Ta’amu will be challenged by another assigned QB, Taylor Heinicke. Projected as a possible late-round pick in 2015, Heinicke went undrafted and signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He has played in seven NFL games and started one – for the Carolina Panthers in 2018.

Heinicke’s small frame leaves him susceptible to injury. He suffered at least three major injuries in his short time in the NFL. If he can make it through camp healthy, he’ll have a good shot at unseating Ta’amu for the starting job.

Let’s not forget about Hard Knocks darling Brogan Roback. The Blond Bomber has spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers since his entrance into the NFL in 2018, and he was a skill position selection of the BattleHawks.

At Eastern Michigan, Roback holds the school record for touchdown passes and total offense, and is second in completions and passing yardage. He has a very real chance of making this a three-way competition at the QB spot in St. Louis.

Odds to start: Heinicke 40%, Ta’amu 35%, Roback 25%

 

 Aaron Murray, Taylor Cornelius, Vincent Testaverde Jr.

Tampa Bay Vipers: Aaron Murray, Taylor Cornelius, Vincent Testaverde Jr.

After bouncing around the NFL, Murray had to wait his turn in the AAF this spring. Murray shined in replacing starter Matt Simms, leading the Legends to their first victory in the short-lived league. It’s a performance he can use to springboard himself into the starting QB conversation in Tampa Bay.

The Vipers were allocated Murray, who had a successful career at Georgia before being drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. While he never saw the field in a regular season game, he got some apprenticeship under fine offensive minds like Doug Pederson and Sean McVay.

Murray will be playing in the city in which he played high school, adding some extra motivation. This may also be the last opportunity for the 29 year-old to play in a major professional league and show scouts he’s still worthy of an NFL look.

Taylor Cornelius will look to play spoiler for the hometown boy’s return to south Florida. A graduate of Oklahoma State in 2019, he started just one season there, but ranked in the top 10 in FBS in passing yardage and touchdowns in Mike Gundy’s QB-friendly offense.

That wasn’t enough to get Cornelius drafted or even signed as a free agent. He had to earn a contract after rookie mini-camp with the Green Bay Packers. A camp arm, Cornelius was let go as the team trimmed its final roster to 53.
Because Cornelius was taken in the skill position phase of the draft, some importance must be attached to his spot. I don’t think it’ll be enough to unseat the veteran Murray, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the battle came down to the wire.

Tampa is also bringing Vincent Testaverde Jr. to camp. The son of Tampa Bay Bucs legend Vinny Testaverde, Testaverde Jr. camped with the Bucs during the offseason. While this seems like little more than a feel-good story, Testaverde Jr, also from Tampa, is intent on etching his name into pro football lore in the Bay area just like his father. It’s going to be an uphill climb to do that.

Odds to start: Murray 65%, Cornelius 30%, Testaverde 5%

XFL Xtra Episode 13-2019 – Looking forward, looking back – Terrell Alex and Mark Zelakowski

We hear from LA Wildcats XFL supplementary draft pick Terrell Alex. Terrell comes to the XFL after a diverse football career which has taken him from Southern University in Baton Rouge, to Canada, and to the Arena League, and most recently to a southern California league called the LDFL. We hear how Terrell feels an opportunity with the XFL is just what he needs at this point in his career. Then we talk to Mark Zelakowski, one of our XFLBoard.com team reporters for the Tampa Bay Vipers. We reminisce about Mark’s time as a reporter for the Orlando Rage, and hear about what happened when they served too much beer to the fans in the Citrus Bowl.

Music: Are You Ready – Free music archive.

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The XFL drops eight snazzy balls just in time for Christmas shopping season

As Black Friday is only four days away, the XFL released their official game ball, and it comes in eight different varieties, each with the colors of their eight franchises.

There are eight different looks to match each team’s primary color scheme. The points of each ball are wrapped with ‘X’ marks in white and the team’s primary color. This design allows receivers to track the ball easily.

The balls feature an “X-Pebble” grip technology designed to help players control the ball with a feel that enables a tight spin on throws, and also allows ball carriers to enhance their ball security.

YouTube video

The XFL spent the past year developing the game ball with football manufacturer Team Issue in Dallas. The first version was tested with players on the field during the XFL’s rules testing this past spring. Based on feedback from quarterbacks and receivers, adjustments were made and updated versions of the ball were tested over a 10-week period at each XFL Summer Showcase. Then, after additional feedback from players was received and hours of tape were watched and analyzed, final adjustments were made and the final ball production began in September.

The XFL game balls will start to see action on the field next month when XFL mini-camps open up across the league.

XFL Official Ball Details

  • Design and Production Partner: Team Issue (Dallas, Texas)
  • Size: Standard professional football size
  • Texture: Patent-pending “X-Pebble” exterior grip technology
  • Game Usage: In every XFL game, the team on offense will use the ball featuring their team’s custom look and color scheme.
  • Dimensions: Prolate spheroidLong circumference: 28 inches (+/- 1/8″)
    • Short circumference: 21 inches (+/- 1/8″)
    • Weight: 14 to 15 ounces
  • Colors: Traditional red leather – the ball will be brown on game day after pre-game leather conditioning
  • Retail Price: $125 plus shipping and handling
  • Unique Features:
    • “X-Tips”: painted Xs wrap both points of each football in white and the team’s primary color
    • X-Pebble technology grip: exterior grip technology (patent-pending) to enhance ball feel and ball security