The XFL Dallas Renegades go into training camp as one of the favorites to win the league title with head coach Bob Stoops leading the way, and quarterback Landry Jones commanding the offense. The team has talent on both sides of the football and plenty of speed. With all the talent the team has assembled, training camp will be a time for Stoops and his staff to try to figure out who will be stars on the team and who will be their playmakers.
Here is a list of players Renegade fans should look out for at XFL training camp in Houston.
Landry Jones, Quarterback
This is kind of a no-brainer as he was the first XFL player to join the league, and is the leader of this team. He has had months to work with Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Hal Mumme to learn the offense, and help the others catch up and learn from him. He showed great sharpness in his play at minicamp and displayed strong arm strength when throwing it down the field. Players on the team will look at him to carry the team as they get used to the offensive system and Stoops will challenge him to take the next step in his development as a professional player. Jones should be an early preseason candidate for MVP and could take the league by storm, thanks to his high football IQ and his speedy wide receivers.
Lance Dunbar, Running Back
He’s been out of football for a few years after dealing with lingering injuries, but now he’s back in North Texas to become one of the team’s most important weapons. He’s known for being a strong third down back with great hands and enough speed to run outside the tackles. He won’t put up huge stats in the running game, but he could lead the team in total scrimmage yards with running the ball and catching. He’s a great weapon for Mumme to move around whether that be lining him up in the backfield or flexing him in the slot. He provides plenty of professional experience and skills to be used in the offense.
Jeff Badet, Wide Receiver
Badet is just one of the many, many receivers with plenty of speed, and has already built good chemistry with Landry Jones. Badet was shown playing in the slot plenty of times during mini camps and was able to call all the balls thrown his way. While the receiving group is talented, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the starting lineup from game one with his familiarity with Bob Stoops and what he is looking for in his offense.
Frank Alexander, Defensive End
Another former Bob Stoops player that should use his veteran leadership and experience to help the defense grow. Alexander was well known for his pass rushing skills in college, and with the Carolina Panthers. He displayed his skills of being able to fight off blocks and get to the quarterback. Defensive coordinator Chris Woods will ask Alexander to help the younger defensive linemen learn the defense and lead by example. Expect him to be either a starter on defense, or be a key factor in the defensive line rotation for this season.
Jonathan Massaquoi, Linebacker
His NFL experience helps make him a valuable asset to this defense. With Chris Woods running a 3-4 defense, Massaquoi had a chance to run in that defense with the Atlanta Falcons where he recorded six sacks and 70 tackles in his NFL career. He spent time with the Birmingham Iron where he sacked the quarterback three times in eight games. He has a lot of speed and will be a good pass rusher off the outside from a defensive end or linebacker position. Being one of the older players on the team, Massaquoi will be able to help this defense learn fast and go hard on defense.
Derron Smith, Safety
The hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety should be one of the most important parts of the defense. He displayed plenty of skills while playing for the San Antonio Commanders in the AAF last year after recording three interceptions. His coverage skills are strong and make him one of the best in the XFL. He will be looked at as one of the leaders on a talented secondary, and should help make the defense one of the best in the league.
Austin MacGinnis, Kicker
MacGinnis had a successful college career with knocking in 79% of his field goals at Kentucky. After not making the Chicago Bears and not getting signed to the Dallas Cowboys this past season, he found success with the Memphis Express of the AAF where he hit 9-11 field goals. He’s got good range from long distance and has been consistently accurate in his career. Another success run in a professional setting could help him take the next step.
Others to Watch
Cameron Artis-Payne (RB), Stacy Coley (WR), Treston Decoud (CB), Willie Beavers (OL), Alex Balducci (C), Greer Martini (LB)
As a former morning sports anchor at KGNC 710 AM in Amarillo, TX and a former TV news reporter at KFDX in Wichita Falls, TX and KXII in Sherman, TX, I have a passion for all things sports (specifically football and basketball). The new look XFL got my attention as a spring football league that can work. I look forward to writing about all things XFL Dallas and covering it for the upcoming 2020 season.