In this podcast, we will introduce two guests, Kalias Robertson and Quincy Redmon. Both of these young men are players who have been invited to the upcoming XFL Draft. We will discover that they have a lot in common. Both are very excited about the XFL, both are more than ready to go, and both are clamoring for an opportunity to show how they can play professional football.
Kalias Robertson, a former Alabama A&M Bulldogs Tight End, has been invited to the XFL draft… and he couldn’t be more excited.
Mainly, Kalias is happy to hear that his football skills have not gone unnoticed. “I’m on their draft boards,” he said. “I’m very excited to see who’s going to get me first.”
Kalias grew up in Alabama, where football is a way of life. “I grew up in Tuscaloosa, but I moved because I was on scholarship to play ball in Huntsville, Alabama,” he explained. “I’ve been surrounded by football all my life. Ever since I was little, I attended the Alabama games and just wanted to get on the field, even though I wasn’t able to play with Alabama.”
Many of the highlights of his college career were when he got to play in the Magic City Classic. In fact, in 2016, he managed to catch the pass that scored the two-point conversion that tied the game, and led to the team winning in overtime.
“That was a moment I could never forget, because we needed it,” Kalias recalled. “My coach was like, Kalias, I’m coming you to Kalias. We need it. So, he called my number, and he always told me, big time players, make big time plays, in big time situations. And, I knew my number was being called. So I had to make the play.”
When asked if he is ready to play in the XFL, Kalias insisted he is more than ready. “I’m definitely ready man. I’ve been waiting to play pro-football for the longest,” he responded.
Kalias went on to say that he was ready to go last spring, when he was brought into the roster of the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football.
“I was brought on with the AAF in Birmingham, right? I was getting ready to play in the next couple of days, and the league folded. I was kind of upset with that.”
Like many players, Kalias was caught in the disappointment of the AAF folding. However, he keeps maintaining his body for the game knowing full well that his pro-football career is not over. According to Kalias, the recipe is a mixture of weight-training, running, swimming and yoga.
“I do yoga,” Kalias said. “People don’t understand that the little things matter. So, I do yoga to keep my body flexed, so I can stay flexible.
When asked which team he hoped to be selected by, Kalias didn’t want to say. He just pointed out that he wanted to be on a team that has a throwing offense.
“I’d like to be on a team where they throw the ball, because I can go out in the slot and stuff like that,” Kalias explained.
When it comes to pregame rituals, Kalias relies on prayer.
“I pray man,” he said. “I just pray to God, check my body before I go out there, and just to protect me and my teammates… protect my mind, protect my whole body, and just for a great game.”
It sounds like Kalias has his priorities straight. We are also ready to send him good thoughts, and wish him luck in the XFL draft, and through the upcoming XFL training camps.
If you want to keep up on Kalias Robertson’s career, you can follow him on Twitter @84OnGo
“That’s my number man. 84,” Kalias explained. “I did a lot of work in 84 in college… and I’m gonna probably rock the 84 in the XFL.”
Right out of Fairmont State, and as an undrafted free agent, Defensive End Quincy Redmon was picked up by the Miami Dolphins.
For Quincy, it was a dream come true. He even got to play alongside Robert Quinn, William Hays, Charles Harris and Andre Branch, all players he looked up to as role models. However, as his first preseason ended, it was also the end for Quincy, as he was cut from the Dolphins.
Now, Quincy is no stranger to adversity. Even as a young football player, an on-field accident left him partially paralyzed.
“It was just a routine tackle,” Quincy explained. “I chased somebody down. But this time, I put my head down and it hit the ground first. When I woke up, I was up in a helicopter and I just couldn’t feel anything.”
After landing in the hospital and discovering he was partially paralyzed, a young Quincy fought through his injury.
“A year later I was playing baseball. The doctors were very shocked that I even had movement as fast as I did.”
Quincy claims it was his mother that showed him how to persevere past any hardship. After all, she raised both Quincy and his brother as a single parent. “We grew up homeless and from shelter to shelter,” Quincy said. “But she kept it together and definitely got us back on our feet. She did an incredible job raising me and my brother.”
Quincy even says he received his tenacious football skills from his mother. “She’s a grinder and a fighter, and definitely that’s where I get it from,” Quincy claimed. “Just seeing how hard she worked her whole life definitely made me want to work too. Like she’d always done,working three to four jobs to support us when we were kids. It just really showed me that hard work can get you anywhere.”
According to Quincy he is ready to bring that hard-working attitude to the XFL.
Last summer he received an invitation to the Tampa Bay Summer Showcase, and according to Quincy he went down there “on just a prayer.” Afterward, Quincy was buoyed by the fact the coaches seemed pretty happy with him. Now he is waiting to hear his name called in the upcoming draft, and then it would be time for training camp.
Is Quincy ready for all this? He is sure that he is more than ready.
“Definitely ready. I’m definitely ready for the cuts that come, and all that, because this guy, once he puts one foot in… I’m putting both feet in. I’m not going nowhere,” Quincy expounded on his attitude. “I’m not even putting out what happens next, because I know what’s going to happen next. I’m going to be… I’m definitely going to be on the team.”
When asked if he is ready to play in the XFL, which many feel (because of changes to the play clock) will probably feature a faster-paced style of football, Quincy says he is ready.
“I play fast. My motor is high, and that’s what separates me from everybody else in any league is my motor,” Quincy boasted. “If you watch, my motor never stops running and that’s what just separates me from everybody.”
Hopefully, we will get the chance to see Quincy Redmon hit the field on an XFL squad this February.
When the XFL was first announced Vince McMahon said, “We want to re-imagine the game of professional football.” Since then, the league has worked on a concept of a faster, more fan-friendly game, with “less stall and more ball.”
Since then, this concept of a better game has moved several steps closer to reality, especially since the XFL has been testing its planned rule changes with The Spring League, Your Call Football, and at community colleges in Mississippi.
Here are the rule changes and enhancements the XFL has been testing.
Forward lateral rule
The XFL has considered the idea of treating passes behind the line of scrimmage as lateral passes, which would allow more than one forward pass to occur. The league feels this would simplify officiating, since it would be easier to judge whether or not a player was behind the line of scrimmage, compared to whether a pass was a lateral or not. The XFL trialed this rule during testing in Mississippi. However, it is still not clear whether a dropped pass is an incomplete pass or a live ball.
A different kickoff
As opposed to the AAF, which did away with kickoffs, the XFL plans to embrace this exciting aspect of the game. The XFL plans to move the spot of the kickoff back to the kicking team’s 15-yard line, which is hoped will reduce the amount of touchbacks. However, in the case that a touchback happens, the ball would be spotted at the 35-yard line. It is hoped that this would encourage kickers to strategically kick the ball as close to the goal line as possible, and further serve to increase the amount of kick returns in the game.
Losing the fair catch
The XFL is considering doing away with fair catches, and instead rely on a halo rule to protect the kick returner. Just like in the CFL, and the original XFL, the kicking team will be forced to give the returner five yards of space to recover and return the ball.
Points after touchdown
The XFL plans to incorporate scrimmage plays for all extra-point attempts. The value of the extra points earned will depend on where the scoring team chooses to take the snap. A two-yard-line attempt would score a single point, a five-yard-line attempt would gain two points, and a ten-yard-line attempt would be for three points. This rule was practiced sparingly by the original XFL, as it became in effect on a rule change that was enacted just before the playoffs.
A shootout style overtime
The proposed XFL overtime format would be a five-round “shootout” of scrimmage plays from the five-yard-line. Just like in a penalty shootout, teams would take turns attempting to make a single play for the end zone, and thus earning a point. At the end of five-rounds, the team with more completed attempts would be declared the winner. The XFL hopes this overtime format would be exciting for fans, ensure both teams have a equal opportunity to win the game, and provide a way for both defensive and offensive players to participate in the outcome.
A different clock
In an attempt to speed up the game, the XFL plans to run the clock continuously, only stopping during a change of possession, and during the two-minute drill, which the XFL will retain. The XFL also plans to reduce the play clock to the shortest time of any American football league, being 25 seconds, measured from the end of the previous play. It should be pointed out that the original XFL, and the AAF, used a 35-second play clock, and Arena football uses a very similar 32-second clock. NFL and college football use a 40-second clock. The Canadian Football League uses a relatively short 20-second clock, however it begins when the ball is spotted, which usually adds up to 15 seconds between plays.
No huddle offence
In direct response to the shortened time clock, the XFL has been trialling a one-way radio placed in all offensive players’ helmets to allow the offensive coordinator to call play on the fly. Theoretically, this would eliminate the need for a huddle.
Using a Ball Judge
The XFL plans to incorporate a “ball judge” who will be responsible for the placement of the ball, and thus speeding up the game. This would bring the number of on-field officials to eight.
The AAF used a “Sky Judge,” who was an additional official in the booth that had the purpose of reviewing on-field decisions. Oliver Luck has said he thought this was a great innovation to the game and indicated they were considering implementing it in the XFL.
The XFL may add a “tap” penalty which would be given to individual players who commit a foul that is not serious enough to warrant a penalty flag. The penalty will result in the player being sent off the field for one play, but not resulting in the team being short a player, as a substitute for the offending player will be allowed. The idea is to keep the game moving quickly, while still addressing rule breakers.
Other potential rule changes that have been discussed
In a recent interview, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck stated that the league would likely use the standard of one foot required in bounds for a complete forward pass, similar to high school/college football, and the CFL.
As in the original XFL, allowing forward motion by all backfielders may be considered. There is a similar rule in the CFL.
Using a one-yard neutral zone at the line of scrimmage, as used by the CFL. The current NFL standard is the length of the football. However, this rule was tested and the league felt it made short-yardage situations too easy to convert.
A proposed rule would require offensive linemen (excluding the snapper) to not put their hand on the ground, thus outlawing the three-point stance.
We are not sure which of these proposed rules will be adopted by the XFL. However, we know that the official rulebook will need to be released soon, in advance of upcoming training camps. We look forward to seeing the XFL’s rule innovations.
In preparation for the draft, the XFL is sending detailed information to players, including a declared date of 15-16 October.
The XFL also indicates that each of their eight XFL teams will draft its preseason 70-man roster during the two day process that will be centrally managed out of the League Office in Stamford, CT.
Following the draft, players will be required to attend a 16-day minicamp starting December 3rd. This will be followed by a centralized training camp beginning January 4th, at a location that is still to be announced. After this camp, players will travel to their respective cities on January 22nd.
XFL active rosters will consist of 52 players, with 46 players active on game day.
If the XFL is looking for intelligent, young players, with a great attitude, Jacob Onyechi should be right up their alley.
A 2017 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Jacob is likely one of only a few linebackers to hold a degree in Mechanical Engineering. So, where has he been? Just serving his country by testing weapon systems for the United States Air Force… that’s all. Oh, by the way, he still has a strong desire to play professional football. Good thing he has recently been invited to the XFL draft.
Jacob excelled as a linebacker for the Air Force team. In 2015 he started in seven games, recording 25 total tackles, including 18 unassisted, with a career-best seven tackles in the Boise State game. In 2016, his senior year, he recorded two sacks, and 40 tackles (25 unassisted plus 15 assisted).
He was primed and ready for the NFL draft, but very close to his graduation, he was told he was obligated to complete two years of military service.
“That happened,” Jacob explained. “It was kind of a crazy story. When I was getting recruited to play in the Air Force, it had been a long standing rule that before you can play professional sports, going from a service Academy, you have to serve at least two years. My junior year they actually rescinded that rule and told us that we could go and play right away.”
However, the rules changed, and the timing of the change quickly impacted Jacob’s football career.
“In my senior year, actually, the day of the drafts, I found out that we actually had to go back to the two-year commitment, and that we wouldn’t be able to play right away.”
Fortunately, a mature-minded Onyechi takes this setback in stride.
“It would have been nice to be able to pursue the dream right away. But, at the same time, I think I’ve grown a lot in these past two years. So, I don’t think that there’s really a negative to it, at least in my eyes.”
This attitude alone, should make XFL coaches stand up and take note.
This past summer, Jacob was invited to attend an XFL Summer Showcase in St. Louis. Jacob came out of that showcase with a positive feeling about the league. “I attended in St. Louis,” Jacob said. “I was actually really impressed with what they seem to be all about.
Jacob doesn’t have a real preference as to which XFL team he hopes will pick him in the draft. “Honestly. I feel like it would just be a blessing to be on any team,” Jacob explained. “Just being a part of the league in general is an honor itself.”
Being from Sugar Land, Texas, Jacob did say his Mom would be thrilled if he played in Houston. We just hope the XFL makes a mother happy, and drafts Jacob Onyechi into a team close by. We have a feeling that they won’t regret it.
You can hear more about Jacob Onyechi in our 22 September podcast.
We talk with Jacob Onyechi. In college, Jacob excelled as a linebacker for the Air Force team, but he missed the NFL draft due to a two-year commitment to the Air Force. Now, Jacob has completed his obligation to serve his country, he has been invited to the XFL draft. Then speak with Anthony Miller, a Texas based broadcaster who has joined XFLBoard.com as a team reporter for the Dallas Renegades. We talk about XFL player recruiting, Coach Bob Stoops, and the burgeoning relationship between the Dallas Renegades and the city of Dallas.
The 2019 NFL season is only two weeks old and yet again, on-field officiating and penalties have become a major storyline for the league. In week one, there was a clock issue that cost the New Orleans Saints about 15 seconds as they were driving down the field before the half. Unlike the NFC Championship Game in January, they were able to overcome the blown call thanks to a last-second Wil Lutz 58-yard field goal.
The Saints were victimized again in week two, this time by a premature whistle. A Jared Goff fumble returned for a touchdown by Cameron Jordan was blown dead as an incomplete pass. While replay overturned the call and awarded New Orleans the ball, because the whistle blew, they would only get the ball at the spot of the recovery, and not the six points.
It’s not just the errors that are irking fans; the amount of laundry thrown during games has reached a boiling point with announcers and players as well. FOX NFL analyst and former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman in a podcast with Sports Illustrated called the amount of penalties “nauseating” and “maddening.”
Even New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, the recipient of some of the weakest roughing the passer calls in the last two decades, found Thursday night’s Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans game hard to watch because of the penalties:
I’m turning off this game I can’t watch these ridiculous penalties anymore #TENvsJAC
If it seems like there are more penalties called early this season, it’s because there have been. ESPN’s Adam Schefter Tweeted out the numbers:
Tom Brady had a point last night. There have been more Total Accepted Penalties called per team per game this year (7.8) than any year since 1947. That number was 6.7 in 2018, 2017, and 2016, so penalties are up 16% in 2019, which leads to more game stoppages and disjointed play.
Holding penalties specifically are on the rise, and it was an offseason point of emphasis as suggested by coaches. According to an NFL.com article by Judy Battista, offensive holding penalties are up 64% through the first two weeks of the season.
That’s not to mention the can of worms opened by allowing pass interference to be a reviewable play in 2019. Previously, judgment calls, of which pass interference is considered, had been immune from review. Even though “clear and obvious visual evidence” is the bar required to overturn a pass interference call (or non-call), that bar will be different depending on the set of eyes looking at it.
This all sounds bad for the league. It has slowed down the pace of play even more. It has players and coaches frustrated. It has fans running to social media even quicker than usual to voice their disgust throughout the world. Second-guessing NFL referees has become a cottage industry. You’d think at some point, the weekly officiating watch would affect the integrity of the game, but thus far, The Shield has not been pierced.
In fact, television viewership continues to grow. Week one this year was up 5% over week one of the 2018 season. Monday Night Football in particular saw double-digit percentage increases for both opening weekend games compared to last year. (Source: https://www.thewrap.com/nfl-week-1-tv-ratings/)
This is all prologue to the XFL, which has pledged a faster pace and fewer stoppages. It has also promised inventive rule changes, some of which we may be hearing about soon. We are now at about the time where the XFL should be writing its rulebook in pen. It’s not known whether the league will release its full rules upon completion, but if so, that could happen any day. It may be the next big reveal for the league, which also has the XFL Draft approaching next month.
While common sense would tell you the XFL should be trying to avoid the pitfalls the NFL has experienced with its officiating over the last decade or so, one has to consider the benefits of the controversies the NFL has found itself embroiled in with regards to this subject.
The disputed calls and no-calls have created storylines for the league and its teams beyond the box scores and win-loss columns. It has fed the talk-radio crowd and kept those issues in the news cycle for days. The more content you give fans and analysts to discuss, the less likely they will be to move on to another subject or sport. The NFL is king, even when the emperor is naked.
If there’s one thing the XFL needs, it’s to be in the consciousness of the sports fans as much as possible when the games begin. Fans are hungry not just for acceptable levels of on-field play, but also for controversy. The league tried to manufacture that in 2001 with the feud between New York/New Jersey Hitmen head coach Rusty Tillman and NBC color analyst Jesse Ventura, but fans didn’t buy it.
With new rules expected to be in place, there may be an adjustment period for players and referees when it comes to what happens between the lines. That could bring along with it some questionable calls from the officials. It’ll also be interesting to see what type of replay review, if any, the league settles on.
The XFL may not get the benefit of the doubt that the NFL has. Despite complaints by fans of how the NFL has become over-officiated, they keep showing up at stadiums and watching on TV. Will fans look the other way if roughing-the-passer penalties in the XFL are questionable, or if a quick whistle or two negate defensive touchdowns? Or will they use that as evidence that the XFL is not a quality product and decide it’s not worth their time?
As the XFL puts the finishing touches on its rulebook, one that will have a great influence on the success of the league, you have to wonder if there’s a devil sitting on the shoulder of commissioner Oliver Luck, telling him to keep some of the rules vague enough so that the XFL too can benefit from a little bit of officiating controversy, just as the NFL has.
Greg Parks is a columnist for Pro Wrestling Torch (pwtorch.com). He covers the XFL and the Tampa Bay Vipers for XFLBoard.com. He has written extensively about the XFL. He resides in Naples, Florida. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks.
Since XFLBoard.com and its followers are excited about the possibility of Shawn Oakman joining the XFL, Jackson Conner recently had a conversation with Oakman, to get to know him a little better, and ask about his past, present and future football career.
Shawn Oakman Q&A
Q. Who contacted you first for your XFL draft invite and when did they contact you?
A. Oliver Luck sent the invitation and it was around mid-to-late August.
Q. Had you been considering the XFL before anyone contacted you?
A. I was considering it for sure, it was definitely an option that was on the table. Any way I could get my foot back in the game I was going to take it. As you know me playing Arena, I have just been trying to keep my name relevant.
Q. What factors played into your decision to accept the XFL draft invite?
A. There were no factors really, football is football. You know, if you love the game you are going to play no matter when or where. It was not something I had to think about. If you give me an opportunity to play football especially a paying opportunity to play I am going to take it. It’s a career path, it’s a career decision.
Q. What does a normal day look like for you as you train for the XFL?
A. 6 am on the field drills, running cardio, weights at 10, lunch and dinner every day. Same thing every day, kind of like that Kaepernick commercial. Really just repetition, being the same person every day, doing the same thing every day. Just staying ready for my opportunity, whatever opportunity that may be XFL, NFL, CFL, etc.
Q. How have your experiences with other pro leagues (Arena) been and what did you learn from those?
A. Its been a good experience just to get back in the feel of things, being out there with the guys and feeling that locker room comradery. It also gave me a refresher that this is a business, in all aspects of the game, from the smaller leagues to the bigger leagues it is a business and you have to approach it as such.
Q. How has your game improved since college?
A. Honestly, I don’t really know too much, because I haven’t been able to showcase my talents in a 11-on-11 setting. I’d say I’m definitely still healthy, I have not been injured. Once I am able to get on that field I can really judge how much better I got. The last 11-on-11 game I played was that Spring League game and I was the MVP of that. It’s definitely a steady preparation every day to keep my body ready. Once you got some pads on the game is going to come natural, it’s like riding a bike. The same thing I have been playing my whole life and I have been pretty good at it.
Q. What is your favorite Shawn Oakman coin flip meme and how did that one viral meme affect your life.
A. For me, the “tuition” one or the “daddy” one was my favorite. It definitely had a huge effect on my life, I was nationally known for that picture so it gave me a platform to really express myself (shoutout to the Cowboys stadium and their huge jumbotron television). I would say it was also both good and bad, just for the simple fact of going through the trial and people perceiving you a certain type of way.
Q. Who is one person that has motivated you throughout your football career and just life in general?
A. I would definitely say my immediate family. Football has the ability to change generations of lives and coaches always ask what is your “why”, why do you play. My ‘why’ has always been my family, to give them a better life than the ones they have ever had or been able to experience.
Q. As a projected 1st round pick, why did you stay another year in college and how do you think your life would’ve changed if you came out a year earlier?
A. Well you know they say God never makes mistakes so I stayed for a bigger purpose. I did not stay for myself, I did not stay for anyone else but the people that needed me to stay and that was teammates and my family. I’m the first boy out of my immediate family to earn a college degree and so for me having my college degree that changes my perspective of the next generation that is coming under me and my siblings. It is no longer an impossible task, now it is a requirement and a goal that we need to focus on. It’s not something we just want to do or can’t do, it is a must. In terms of how my life would have changed, I’m not really sure. I think I would have been in the NFL right now but that is the only thing I think would be different.
Q. Is the NFL the final goal?
A. Yes, the NFL is the primary goal. Just to have that stamp to say that I did make it after all my trials and tribulations would be great.
XFLBoard.com would like to wish Shawn Oakman a good future in the XFL and thank him for joining Jackson Conner and answering these questions.
In 2018, during his senior year at the University of Wyoming, Nico Evans rushed for a total of 1325 yards over ten games. That works out to an average of 132.5 yards per game. It was a standout season, where he was selected “First Team” in the All-Mountain West Conference.
This was when pro-football scouts began to take notice.
However, despite being highly rated, as the 2019 NFL draft ended, Evans found himself undrafted. But, he didn’t have to wait long for a team to be interested, as he was quickly picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles and invited to their rookie training camp. Then, Evans quickly encountered another setback when the Eagles waived his contract and sent him home.
“It was a weird situation, going into a team that already had eight running backs,” said Nico. “They decided they needed an Offensive Lineman. That’s kind of how the NFL works. It was a numbers thing. So, I was the last one in at running back, so I was the first one out, and an O-Lineman was signed.”
Since then, other NFL teams have shown interest in Nico’s talents, as he has had workouts with the Jaguars and the Packers.
This is a typical example of the “yoyo” game so many young football players go through as they work to get a job playing the game that they love.
Now, the most recent opportunity to present itself to Nico is an invitation to the XFL draft, which will be held in October.
“I am blessed to get that invitation and be part of the XFL draft pool,” Nico said.
If the XFL needs a running back with youth and talent, Nico Evans might be just what they are looking for. Nico describes his style as a one-cut back. “I don’t like to make too many moves, but when I see the hole I hit it as fast as I can.”
Nico has stats to back up his claims. According his website, nicoevansfootball.com he consistently runs the 40 in the 4.4s, and was was chip-timed running greater than 22 mph. Evans pointed out that it was in the “Boise State game” where he hit this mark.
When asked which XFL team he hoped would draft him, Nico said he would be happy with any team that would give him the best opportunity to play. “Los Angeles, Florida, Texas… it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter where I play, as long as I get to play this game that I love,” he said.
“My story is not finished,” Nico added. “I am grateful for this XFL opportunity.”
It would be great to see Nico Evans on an XFL roster in February 2020.