Mini-camps have ended for all eight XFL teams. The XFL’s league-wide training camp begins in Houston on January 4th. The New York Guardians will be setting up shop at Houston Baptist University from January 4th to the 22nd. The Guardians will be practicing at Husky Stadium. At the very end of training camp, the Guardians will be having a scrimmage game against their week one regular-season opponent, the Tampa Bay Vipers on January 21st in Houston, something Head Coach/GM Kevin Gilbride has voiced his displeasure with, but the idea is a request from the XFL’s broadcast partners. Think of it as a full dress rehearsal for FOX Sports, the announcers, the players, coaches, and referees. This scrimmage will act as an unofficial non-televised preseason game.
The Guardians will practice with other XFL teams during their time in Houston as well. January 22nd will be cut down day for all XFL rosters. All XFL teams will pare down their rosters to 52 players. There is a lot that can change between now and training camp, and there has already been some post minicamp roster movement on XFL teams. There figure to be more moves before and even during training camp. Before we get to that point. Let’s take a preliminary look at the Guardians’ offensive depth chart and where it stands as the team heads towards training camp in the new year.
1- (#14)- MATT MCGLOIN
2- (#12)- MARQUISE WILLIAMS
3- (#4)- GARRETT FUGATE
This figures to be the pecking order. McGloin is the experienced veteran that has taken the reigns on the field and off. Marquise Williams may still factor into this team’s offense. Working with an experienced vet like McGloin, and the Guardians coaching staff should really aid his development. Despite not being initially pegged as the starter, Williams could carve out a role in this offense based on his skillset. The Guardians figure to be running a multiple offense with some RPO elements. With the league’s new rules, Marquise could be a useful tool in short-yardage, the red zone, and in the league’s three-tiered conversions. The Guardians’ front office and the coaching staff have spoke highly of Central Missouri’s Garrett Fugate and his arm talent, but will New York be adding to their quarterback room come January. At Guardians mini-camp in Waldwick, New Jersey, Kevin Gilbride expressed that he didn’t want to overcrowd his quarterback room, the feeling by Coach was that it would result in decreasing too many potential reps at the position. Any new addition at Quarterback for New York could put Fugate’s roster spot in jeopardy. If the Guardians staff prefers to not carry four quarterbacks.
1- (#20)- TIM COOK
2- (#23)- JUSTIN STOCKTON
3- (#27)- DARIUS VICTOR
4- (#34)- MATTHEW COLBURN
This is going to be a versatile multi-player backfield coached up by long-time respected position coach Jerald Ingram. Tim Cook was selected by the Guardians in the 4th round of their skill position draft back in October. The 6’0 245 pound runner from Oregon State figures to be the teams bruising bell-cow back. Cook is a powerful runner who has gone through a lot of adversity since starting out at Butler Community College. Cook has persevered to this point and is finally getting a legit chance to show his skills as the lead back. Speedster Justin Stockton is the perfect compliment to Tim Cook. The former Texas Tech big play back in Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense. Stockton is the ideal third-down back in the Guardians offense. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball with his 4.38 speed and has excellent hands. Both Darius Victor and Matthew Colburn could also factor in the Guardians’ rushing attack. Victor was a standout all-state runner in Maryland and at Towson University. It’s hard not to compare Victor’s running style to that of Maurice Jones-Drew. Victor is a short compact runner who can break tackles in the open field. Colburn has a similar skill set. He’s a low center of gravity runner and his compact frame also makes him difficult to tackle. Colburn has had a chip on his shoulder since college and he used it to his advantage at Wake Forest. When Louisville’s Bobby Petrino pulled a scholarship offer from Colburn a day before signing day, Matthew Colburn exacted revenge on Petrino when he steamrolled the Cardinals for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns. The one area that the Guardians may need to address moving forward is at fullback. Tommy Bohanon was drafted back in October to serve that role and would be a great asset to the teams rushing attack but he decided to pursue other career opportunities off the field. The Guardians could use their tight ends to fill hybrid roles as lead blockers but this is an area to watch as we get closer to training camp.
1- (#82)- MEKALE MCKAY
2- (#11)- DEANGELO YANCEY
3- (#19)- TANNER GENTRY
4- (#1)- DEMARCUS AYERS
It can be argued that the Guardians have the best WR group in the entire league. The team just recently added 3 new members to this group in 4.3 speedster Taivion Jacobs, Teo Redding, and Dalton Ponchilla. They will be joining a group that also includes Colby Pearson, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, Justice Liggins, J-Shun Harris, and Octayvius Miles. This is going to be a tough roster to make come final cutdown day on January 22nd.
Leading the charge in the passing game should be AAF standout Mekale McKay. ‘Big Play’ McKay is a huge target in the red zone at 6’4 and he should be a factor making plays all over the field. McKay’s best trait is winning when the ball is in the air and making contested catches. DeAngelo Yancey is a polished route runner with excellent hands. The former 5th round pick by the Packers has been waiting for his opportunity to break out and he’s going to get it with the Guardians. Former Bears and Wyoming star receiver Tanner Gentry figures to also play a prominent role in this offense. Josh Allen’s favorite target in college, Gentry broke out as a senior with 72 catches, 1,326 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Like McKay and Yancey, Tanner has good size at 6’2/210 and can be a factor running routes on the inside and outside. Another player who could be playing more of a traditional slot role in this offense is DeMarcus Ayers. The undersized but prolific playmaker in college does not have great speed but what he does possess are terrific agility and open field skills. Ayers will be a factor in the teams return game as well but he showed up nicely early this year at receiver for San Antonio in the AAF. With the Guardians trotting out some giants at the receiver position, DeMarcus at 5’9 can be a nice playmaking contrast in this group.
1- (#88)- EJ BIBBS
2-(#87)- JAKE POWELL
3-(#83)- JAKE SUTHERLAND
4- (#81)- GARRETT HUDSON
5- (#85)- KEENEN BROWN
E.J. Bibbs is the most experienced tight end of this bunch, having spent time with four different NFL teams after being a John Mackey Award finalist in the Big 12 at Iowa State. Bibbs also has the versatility to play in the backfield at the H-back position. Behind Bibbs is a talented group of unproven players on the pro level. Guardians draft pick Keith Towbridge figured to be a key part of the teams’ two tight-end attack but he signed on with the Washington Redskins and is currently a member of their practice squad. That leaves an opening for someone to emerge behind Bibbs. This competition is going to be wide-open.
Jake Powell had a great summer with the New York Giants. The local Monmouth All-Big South tight end is known more for his stellar in-line blocking prowess, but it’s a trait that could land him a spot on the Guardians roster. Morehead State’s Jake Sutherland is very similar to Powell. Sutherland has good size and is a very physical player who can be an asset to the ground game and helping in pass protection. Both Powell and Sutherland have added value on special teams as blockers in the return game.
Garret Hudson and Keenen Brown provide good pass-catching skill sets. Hudson was a First Team All-CAA player at Richmond. Hudson is a high character player with great football smarts. He’s already winning over his Guardian coaches with his work ethic and can even contribute on special teams units. Texas State’s Keenen Brown has good athletic ability and is excellent after the catch. Brown is a late bloomer who started out at Oklahoma State. Keenen is a former All-District Wide Receiver who played a myriad of different positions in his formative years in college. Transferring late in his college run, Brown ended up leading the Bobcats in receptions and touchdowns in his senior season. Many NFL scouts projected him to be a late-round pick. The upside is there for him to emerge from this pack.
OFFENSIVE TACKLES- (#74) JARRON JONES & (#77) BRIAN FINEANGANOFO
OFFENSIVE GUARDS- (#78) ANTHONY COYLE & (#69) IAN SILBERMAN
CENTER- (#75) PARKER COLLINS
SWING LINEMAN/POTENTIAL STARTERS-
C/G- (#68)- GARRETT BRUMFIELD G/T- (#70) JOHN KLING, OT- (#60) BRIAN WALLACE
This will be the most competitive position in camp and there is some uncertainty in this group. The Guardians just added two impressive young players in All First Team MAC Tackle Brant Weiss from Toledo and All-First Team Pac 12 Guard Jordan Agasiva from Utah. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that both could be opening day starters come February. New York also recently added former All-SEC Kentucky Guard Jervontius ‘Bunchy’ Stallings. He could also factor in as competition for a starting spot up front.
New York has had a bit of a shakeup on their offensive line since mini-camp started. The Guardians second-round pick in their offensive line draft, Cyrus Kouandjio failed his physical and was released. His brother Arie, who was also selected in the o-line phase was recently released as well. The Guardians currently have 13 offensive linemen on their roster. That will most certainly be pared down by the time January 22nd rolls around.
There is not a lot of pro starting experience in this group. Some have experience starting in the AAF earlier this year, like John Kling, but New York is rolling the dice on a talented but inexperienced group. On paper, the interior of this line looks solid and has depth, but it’s outside at tackle where the major questions exist. Notre Dame’s Jarron Jones is supremely gifted as a former defensive lineman who has transitioned to offensive tackle in the pros. He has left tackle traits with agility and a great wingspan but is largely unproven. The Guardians’ front office thinks highly of Jones and they showed it by selecting him first in the XFL’s offensive line draft in October. The player manning the left tackle spot for New York could be the most important ingredient on offense and towards this team contending for the playoffs and potentially a championship.
Mike Mitchell is a freelance sports writer, analyst, and a general lover of all football. Mike was one of the original XFLBoard.com Team Reporters in 2001, reporting on the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. We have welcomed him back to the XFLBoard and love his ongoing insightful contributions.