One of the XFL’s biggest selling points is that it’s a showcase league for players that never got a proper shake in the NFL. Over the past two weeks, the player that has absolutely made the most of his opportunity is Los Angeles Wildcats wide receiver Tre McBride.
McBride is a native of Killeen, Texas who played at FCS lightweight The College of William & Mary. He impressed NFL scouts just enough that the Tennessee Titans took a seventh round flyer on him in the 2015 NFL Draft, landing McBride with the 245th pick.
McBride spent two frustrating seasons with the Titans. In both 2015 and 2016, McBride started the year on Tennessee’s practice squad, only to be called up late in each campaign due to injuries. He was active for just nine games and was only targeted four times over two seasons. He finished his career in Nashville, Tenn. with two receptions for eight yards and one touchdown, adding another eight yards on his only NFL carry.
From there, McBride was signed by the Chicago Bears. He played in eight games during the 2017 campaign, hauling in eight balls for 144 yards. Again though, McBride was never going to be the focal point of Chicago’s offense and he was waived on November 28, 2017.
Since that fateful day, McBride has been a journeyman workhorse, bouncing around the fringes of pro football. He found himself on the practice squads of three different NFL teams, spending time with the New York Jets, Washington Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Eventually, he gave up on the NFL and saw the XFL as an opportunity to re-invent himself.
Unfortunately, McBride’s path to pro football’s newest spring league couldn’t even go smoothly. McBride was originally drafted by the DC Defenders, the final player taken in the second round. Four months later, McBride was on the move again. He was traded to the Wildcats for Rashad Ross. Then, when the XFL season finally kicked off, McBride was forced to sit out with an injury.
That is a twisted path to play pro football. However, McBride, like so many other players in the XFL is playing for the love of the game. In his case, the wait has been worth it. Over the past two weeks, McBride has become a Wildcats sensation, hauling in 13 balls for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Despite missing half of the season, McBride is now the fifth leading wide out in receiving yards in the XFL.
Two weeks ago, McBride burst onto the scene with a five-catch, 109-yard performance with a pair of touchdowns. His phenomenal showing helped LA win its first ever XFL game, beating McBride’s old DC Defenders team 39-9. Last week, despite LA losing 17-14 to the New York Guardians, McBride has a tremendous day with eight receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.
Los Angeles will look to have more of the same from its newfound go-to receiver on Sunday when the Wildcats host the Tampa Bay Vipers at 6 p.m.
Peter Schinkai is a former sports reporter with the Kalamazoo Gazette, Roswell Daily Record and DeKalb Daily Chronicle. He also been part of two start-up sports organizations, and feel that the XFL has the foundation to be a lasting spring football league. This includes a tremendous market in LA. Follow him on Twitter at @xflschinkai.