Dallas Renegades Training Camp Week Two Observations

Dallas Renegades

Saturday morning in Houston was gloomy, dark, rainy, and humid combined together. Some would say it’s a good day to stay indoors and enjoy the start of the weekend. For XFL teams, it was the perfect day to scrimmage each other and end the second full week of training camp on a high notes. The Dallas Renegades were looking to do the same from W.W. Throne Stadium against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

The Renegades have been in the headlines for the XFL with the major news involving quarterback Landry Jones, the trades they have been making, and the recent signing of quarterback Eric Dungey. They have been under the spotlight of training camp with the amount of big names within the franchise as they push for a West Division title and an XFL Title.

Eric Dungey Suffers Injury, Philip Nelson Leading Quarterback Battle

Eric Dungey made headlines when he joined the Renegades the day after the Landry Jones injury to serve as the backup quarterback to Philip Nelson. Things got interesting after Dungey’s first workout with the team in Houston. According to offensive coordinator Hal Mumme when speaking with XFL Board, Dungey pulled his hamstring after just one workout and has been working through the injury.

“He appears to be athletic and he’s got a strong arm in the little bit we have seen him I was impressed,” coach Mumme said. “We’ll have to get him well and be able to work with.”

During Saturday’s scrimmage practice with the BattleHawks, Dungey did not suit up only wearing his number seven red jersey. He did throw during seven-on-seven drills, but Nelson took all the snaps when the teams played full offense versus full defense. While spectators were not able to see his mobility, Dungey’s arm looked good. He had quite the rip on the ball as he displayed great velocity on his deep passes. There were times he overthrew his receivers, but that could have a lot to do with his hamstring and being limited on his movement. Nelson got off to a good start as he looked good on his deep passes and seems to be developing good chemistry with his receivers. Both coach Mumme and head coach Bob Stoops have been pleased with what they have saw out of the quarterback in Jones’ absence.

“I think he’s done great,” coach Mumme said. “He was like 90% for the day (Friday). He’s done a great job throwing competitions, keeping the game moving. He has gotten better and better each day in his leadership ability and stuff like that. He’s stepped up and I think the team has really rallied around him.”

“Philip’s (Nelson) has really done a great job. Especially in the last three-four practices, he’s really picked it up. You can tell he’s getting more and more comfortable with everything we’re doing and the added repetition, he’s continued to really improve. ”

Update on Landry Jones Injury

Landry Jones did not throw passes at camp on Saturday, but Bob Stoops told XFL Board that Jones has been making good progress in his rehab back onto the field.

“Seems to be healing fine,” coach Stoops said. “Still unsure how many more weeks it will be, but he’s feeling better and better everyday.”

In a post on Sunday by the Renegades team, Jones was seen on the field with the team throughout his time in Houston working with teammates and the quarterbacks helping them get accustomed to the air-raid offense. His leadership skills have been on display since he joined the team and continues to be the man running the show even if he is sidelined. No word yet as to whether the team expects him to start week one of the season against the BattleHawks.

Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne finds a crease against Los Angeles last Saturday.
Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne finds a crease against Los Angeles last Saturday. Credit: XFL.com

Running Back Competition is Fierce

One of the toughest battles to determine a winner of during training camp has been the running back competition as five running backs are going for the top spot. The battle is tight as the competition is between Cameron Artis-Payne, Lance Dunbar, Austin Walter, Marquis Young, and Darnell Holland. Renegades running back coach Bobby Blizzard and the rest of the coaching staff know they will have a difficult decision to make when all is said and done in Houston.

“They’re making it hard on me every day. I go to sleep thinking that if I lose any of these guys, I’ll be heartbroken,”coach Blizzard said to XFL.com in a recent interview. “Still, to this day and this moment, if it came down to cuts, I still wouldn’t know who to pick. I would need the whole staff to bounce ideas off them and see what they think of each kid.”

“It has truly been a competition,” coach Mumme told XFL Board. “You got two veterans guys in Lance Dunbar and Cam Artis-Payne who have really provided a lot of leadership. They play well, they know what to do. But they have helped bring along Marquis Young who really is a great competitor. Austin Walter has had a good camp. Darnell Holland is a guy who’s learning the running back position, but he played in an offense in college that was like a Flexbone deal as the wingback so he’s had to learn a lot of stuff, but has incredible speed. He’s really someone we’ve enjoyed working with.”

One thing that has been very apparent with the running backs has been their athletic abilities to catch the ball out of the backfield. Walter had a big day as he was able to catch a tough over the shoulder diving catch that wowed and fired up the sidelines. Young and Holland ran the ball hard as the three are all fighting for spots on the team. It seems as though Artis-Payne and Dunbar could find their ways onto the squad. It’s a matter of how many running backs will the team carry and which of them will make the cut.

Receivers Impressing the Coaching Staff

There has been a lot of movement at the receiver position, but there is no denying that there is a ton of speed and talent within the group. There have been several players that have stood out in the pack as the leaders. Jeff Badet has had a great training camp and that comes at no surprise with his knowledge of the offense and the strong chemistry he has been building with Landry Jones. The one player everyone has been talking about though: Jazz Ferguson. Ferguson is poised for big things this season as he has been known for making spectacular catches and being difficult to cover one-on-one. They have no doubt caught the attention of the offensive coaching staff along with the other receivers.

“Yeah there’s been some big play guys there definitely,” coach Stoops said. “Jazz is such a big target to make big plays. Jeff Badet has such speed to make big plays. A lot of others guys are really stepping up. Flynn Nagel inside is a really sure handed guy with great route running. It’s a good group.”

During Saturday’s camp, newcomer Freddie Martino is quickly making noise as he displayed some nice route running and great hands. Despite the fact that he is coming onto the team late after being traded, Martino has already shown that he is on his way to making the roster and could get playing time. The tough part as well for the coaches is the fact that several players have played well. Coach Mumme spoke very highly of the group and how they are performing.

“Overall, it’s been a task to try to sort out who’s going to make the club,” coach Mumme said. “Mainly because they’re all so even. Of course, we traded Stacy (Coley), brought in Freddie Martino who had a great day yesterday (Friday).”

Along with Badet, Ferguson, and Martino, we have seen several other receivers stepping up. Simmie Cobbs, Flynn Nagel, and Jerrod Heard had big days Saturday and have continued to play efficiently. Cobbs will provide some needed outside skills catching the ball while Nagel makes for a perfect Wes Welker-type in the slot. Not to mention Heard has proven to be a physical receiver who seem to have caught every ball thrown his way against the BattleHawks secondary. The coaching staff will have some tough decisions Wednesday when they start making cuts.

Defense Hitting Hard and Learning Harder

The defense had to have been excited once training camp started as they finally got to suit up and tackle for the first time since joining the XFL. Mini-camp for the defenders was learning the 3-4 system that defensive coordinator Chris Woods has implemented into the defense. A scheme that requires a lot of speed and a lot of thinking on their feet to react.

“They’re a smart group,” coach Woods told XFL Board. “The focus on this one was a little bit more of a technique and toughness and see who’s going to play ball the right way and learn the rules. You know you have a reimagined game and there are some things we have to work around defensively. That’s awesome. I think there’s some great, exciting additions, but it is a little bit how you coach it.”

Some of the rule changes that is more geared towards the offense includes the one foot inbounds, the double forward pass, and the new point after conversions. Despite the new changes, the challenge of a more offensive-friendly rules doesn’t seem to faze the defensive coaching staff.

“Our number one job is to be an extension of the offense and to keep us in the game,” coach Woods said. “We can’t control the rules. Wherever they spot the ball and whatever they tell us the rules are, we are going to try to go up and stop them. It’s more of just educating the guys. Certain things they are not used to from the NFL or going back to college.”

The defense is filled with veterans and big play players from their days in the NFL and some of the Alliance of American Football including guys like Frank Alexander, Jonathan Massaquoi, Derron Smith, and Josh Hawkins. The team as a unit has been too good to point out one guy who has played well. Woods talked a lot about the linebackers like Greer Martini and Ray Ray Davison have played well along with the strong play from Smith and the rest of the secondary. They were on full display going up against the BattleHawks stacked offense and will have something to say when the season starts.

Special Teams is Pretty Special

One of the questions after the team waived long snapper Owen Gilbert was who the Renegades were going to turn to in regards to handling long snapping duties. It appears that linebacker Christian Kuntz will be taking over those duties. Kuntz was brought onto the team late last month and has done work in the past as a long snapper so the team will turn to him to handle those duties and looks to go into the season as the man in the middle of the line on field goals and punts.

Austin MacGinnis was one of the sharpest looking players at camp with his performance on field goals. He was perfect during his time on the field as he is displaying a strong leg and every kick he made looked like he was hitting them right in-between the uprights. While special teams seems to be under-appreciated especially since they have eliminated kicks on extra points, MacGinnis will have to make the most of his time on the field.

The kickoff coverage did take a hit as they get used to the new alignment as they saw a familiar foe get through the line of defense easily for a big return. Former Renegades wide receiver Keith Mumphrey seems to be making the most of his time with the BattleHawks as he returned a kickoff without being touched on the Renegades as he got a small sense of revenge in practice. Most fans know it’ll be an adjustment period for teams to get used to the new kickoff rules so Renegade fans should be happy it’s happening now and not in real action.

Notable Players Sidelined on Saturday

There were some notable players that did not workout with the team on the field on Saturday as they could be seen running on the sidelines working their way back onto the field. Noteworthy players included wide receiver Floyd Allen, running back Lance Dunbar, defensive end Frank Alexander, and defensive tackle Winston Craig. It’s a tough break for Dunbar as he has had a history of fighting through injuries and is expected to play a factor in the offense on passing downs. Allen is battling for a spot in the receiver rotation as it continues to get deeper and deeper in the position on the depth chart. Alexander is a veteran presence that the Renegades need and Craig was looked at to be apart of the rotation of defensive tackles, but with the additions of Drew Bailey and Omarius Bryant, it will make competition tougher for everyone at the position.

Four XFL Teams Engage in Wide Receiver Trades

The XFL announced more trades on their transaction page Sunday with all four teams involved swapping wide receivers. This is the first trades made since December 18th as it is the latest wave of roster moves being made by teams before training camp concludes on January 21st.

Dallas Renegades trade Wide Receiver Stacy Coley to the Tampa Bay Vipers for Wide Receiver Freddie Martino

Stacy Coley performed well at mini camp last month for the Renegades as they have one of the deepest wide receiver cores in the XFL making competition fierce at the position. Jazz Ferguson has emerged as a big play receiver on the outside for Dallas which could have played a role in Coley being traded to Tampa Bay. Vipers head coach Marc Trestman loves to sling the ball as he is known for being able to work well with quarterbacks. Coley should have plenty of time to prove himself during training camp. He will have to compete with a receiving core that should open up chances to start, but Coley have great speed and showed reliable hands for Dallas.

Freddie Martino will fit perfectly in Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme’s offense as he also possesses great speed as he runs at around a 4.49 40-yard dash and has a chance to come in and play in the slot. Don’t be surprised if he gets a look at special teams as well as he could be looked at as a returner. He showed great potential in his last stop in the AAF with the Arizona Hotshots where he recorded 11 catches for 126 yards. He will have a lot of competition as Ferguson as well as Flynn Nagel have made things tougher with their play on the field.

LA Wildcats trade Wide Receiver Rashad Ross to the DC Defenders for Wide Receiver Tre McBride

Rashad Ross was a force in the AAF as he was regarded as one of the best receivers in the league. He is an absolute burner and can go one-on-one with any corner in the XFL. He had 36 catches for 583 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games with the Arizona Hotshots. It comes as a surprise that the Wildcats would let him go, but this can be seen as a major boast for the Defenders. Quarterback Cardale Jones will have a deep threat to throw it to and really makes the receiver position tough for the DC coaches to decide on with Malachi Dupree and Eli Rogers highlighting a deep group. It’s safe to say that DC improved with this move and now makes what is already a talented offense better and more dangerous.

Tre McBride ran a 4.37 40-yard dash if that speaks to what kind of receiver he is at 6 foot tall. He will make for a solid slot receiver in LA. There is talent at receiver for the Wildcats, but will need to find their number one target in the offense for either Luis Perez or Josh Johnson to throw to when the season starts. McBride will have to make his mark as a deep threat with his speed and could work his way into a returner role being one of the faster players on the active roster. Chow now has another piece to the offense to play with in regards to how to utilize his speed to deep routes or wide receiver reserve runs.

Overall Impression

It’s hard to say who won with these trades as all four of these receivers will have equal opportunity to make their teams and all have prior professional football experience which is a plus. They all have until January 21st to quickly learn the offenses and show off their skills quickly. Coley and Ross should play well enough to earn roster spots and even start for their teams in week one of the season. All these receivers are good roster fits with great speed which opens up special teams returner as options for each of them.

Dallas Renegades Training Camp Week One Recap

New rules for the upcoming XFL season dominated the news outlets this week as they brought many innovative ideas to the table, but the Dallas Renegades had an eventful week of their own that could have major implications to the start of the regular season.

Quarterback Landry Jones Injured

Besides the rule changes to the league, Landry Jones’ injury was one of the biggest stories of the new XFL season. During Monday’s practice, Jones suffered a knee injury that has resulted in him being off the field for 4-6 weeks. Some will see this as a major blow to the Renegades and the league in general as he was not only the first player to sign with the league, but he is considered one of the faces of the league. With this injury, it could result in him being inactive for the opening game of the season or even miss two to three games. It could also mean that he might bounce back before then and be ready to start with the team from game one. That decision will depend on how fast he can heal and how soon coach Bob Stoops wants to get him back into the lineup.

This leads to the team turning to backup QB Philip Nelson to be the next man up. He has shown great ability in both mini-camp and training camp that he has great deep ball accuracy and high football IQ with his extensive knowledge of offensive coordinator Hal Mumme’s offense. He’s been working closely with Jones on getting the terminology down so he can go out and play without overthinking it. He went into the season as one of the better backups in the league and he might have a chance to showcase it in the opener against the St. Louis BattleHawks. With the injury comes big concerns about the depth of the quarterback position, which resulted in the team acting quick and finding a new quarterback to fill in.

Eric Dungey Signed, Jerrod Heard Plays at QB

Former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey was called upon to join the quarterback conversation as the Renegades brought him in to be the new backup quarterback. This week though, he has had more time just learning the offense and get comfortable with the play calls. Wide receiver and former Texas Longhorns quarterback Jerrod Heard was moved back into his old position as he took snaps at quarterback to help with depth until Dungey can get back up to speed. Stoops didn’t seem phased by his new quarterback situation though when discussing their play.

“[Philip Nelson] looks really strong, doing a great job with more reps that he’s getting,” Stoops said in an article on xfl.com. “Eric Dungey came in and filled in well today, and Jerrod Heard also is getting some snaps and he’s looked better the more reps he gets. So they’re all doing a good job.”

If Dungey is able to learn quickly and get in some reps, this could present a quarterback controversy that was not anticipated for training camp. Dungey displays good arm strength and accuracy along with his experience with spread offense. He’s comfortable in the pocket in shotgun formations and has pin point accuracy on short yardage passes. His only real big knock is his inability of staying healthy. In his first three seasons at Syracuse, he suffered injuries in all, but was able to make ever start in his senior season which is a plus. Week two will be a defining point in Dungey’s young XFL career to determine if he can take the job away from Nelson.

New Helmet Radio Communication

The XFL did announce new rules when it came down to how radio communication is handled with all skill players getting radios inserted into their helmets for the league to promote quicker play calls and more of a chance to not huddle up. The Dallas Renegades were the first ones to test it out earlier in the week to see how it would work. Hal Mumme spoke about how it was going learning how to adjust to the new communication system in the league.

“Speed is obviously the biggest difference because I can get the play out to six guys at a time,” Mumme said on an article on xfl.com. “I think it’s pretty cool. I always hated headsets until now.”

This radio system works perfectly with the style of offense that the Renegades are going to be running. The Air Raid offense is almost exclusively run in the shotgun which should help the quarterbacks make the calls easier and this should help all the skill players to line up correctly without any issues of misplacement in where they are on the field. It will be an adjustment for all eight of the XFL teams, but one that could benefit teams that might want to move up the tempo offensively and help avoid delay of game penalties with the new 25 second play clock.

Long Snapper Owen Gilbert Waived

The Renegades will be faced with an interesting situation in regards to what they will do at the long snapper position. Owen Gilbert was announced as being waived from the team on Thursday. His story was interesting in the fact that former Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton was originally offered a spot on the team as their long snapper, but he couldn’t commit to it. Instead, he recommended Gilbert to them and Dallas ended up signing him. Now the team may either look on their roster or somewhere in free agency for a new long snapper.

Camp Standouts: Jazz Ferguson & Josh Hawkins

Jazz Ferguson has to be looked at as a potential sleeper to make this team and probably get significant playing time. Time and time again on social media, we have witnessed Ferguson making some spectacular catches in the end zone. He has obviously proven to be a deep threat to this team and has gained the confidence of his quarterbacks. In a time where the team may not have their starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, having a player like Ferguson will give them more confidence to throw it up to him to make a big catch. I would not be surprised to see him in the starting lineup during training camp and possibly at the beginning of the season.

Josh Hawkins is one of many defensive backs on the team who stood out in week one of training camp. With the winds being strong and the weather being so-so in Houston, the secondary did an outstanding job in coverage and creating turnovers. They had the tough task of shutting down some of the fastest receivers in the league and all indications have been they were able to do that and more. Hawkins was one of those ballhawking corners to have an impressive week one. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as he has NFL experience from his time with the Green Bay Packers where he actually started three games in 2017 and recorded six pass deflections. He will play a key role in this defense as a veteran presence and could earn a spot in the starting lineup.

Dallas Renegades Quarterback Landry Jones Injured

A tough break for the XFL Dallas Renegades and quarterback Landry Jones as he suffered a left knee injury at training camp in Houston Monday.

It isn’t clear as to how he was injured, but the team released a statement Tuesday night giving an update on his injury. He is expected to miss about 4-6 weeks as the medical staff continue to evaluate his knee in the upcoming weeks. Head coach and general manager Bob Stoops released a statement regarding his injury:

“We are sorry to see Landry sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks and are hopeful he will heal quickly and be back on the field at our opener, if not just shortly after,” Stoops said. “Landry is the leader of our team and will continue to play that key role.”

The team will most likely turn to backup quarterback Philip Nelson who has prior starting experience when he started for the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football. As of Tuesday night, Nelson is the only other quarterback on the roster other than Jones which could mean Stoops and the Renegades will have to look for another quarterback to fill in. The team has not announced who they will sign to be the new backup.

Jones was the first XFL player signed, after having a successful career under Stoops at the University of Oklahoma, and spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While this is crushing news for the Renegades in the first week of training camp, Nelson proved in the AAF that he is more than capable of leading a new franchise. His experience in the AAF should help him as he might end up being the opening day starter for the Renegades if Jones cannot go.

Key Renegade Players to Watch for at XFL Training Camp

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)

Dallas Renegades Adds Three Players, Cuts One

James Quick-Christian Kuntz-Derrick Puni
James Quick / Christian Kuntz / Derrick Puni

The Dallas Renegades join in with many teams in making roster changes on Thursday when they added three more players to their roster and made the decision to cut safety Jalen Harvey. Harvey was going to have a tough time finding playing time as the safety position was deep with Derron Smith leading the way. With the recent roster moves, the team was able to get to 70 before training camp gets underway on Saturday in Houston. Here are the newest members of the team.

James Quick, WR, Louisville

James Quick has some height to him at 6 foot 2 inches which makes him one of the tallest receivers on the team. While he won’t be the fastest receivers on the team, he will make with sure hands. He had a successful college career at Louisville where he caught 126 receptions for 2,032 yards and 14 touchdowns. After spending time with the Washington Redskins and stepping away from the game for two years, he joined the Atlanta Legend of the Alliance of American Football where he caught 10 passes for 98 yards.

He will be brought in to compete for a starting job as an outside receiver in Hal Mumme’s offense. While the competition will be stiff with the deep receiving core, Quick should be able to find his place in the offense and use his height to help him earn a spot on the roster.

Christian Kuntz, LB, Duquesne

Christian Kuntz was a team captain and a star defensive player at Duquesne where he recorded 136 tackles, 21.5 sacks, four interceptions, and five forced fumbles in two seasons there. He got a chance to compete in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s also developed into a long snapper and could compete with Owen Gilbert for the long snapping job. He should fit in with the linebacking core with a ton of speed and athleticism and may be asked on to move into a defensive end role to pass rush from the outside.

Derrick Puni, OT, Central Missouri

Hal Mumme’s offense requires athleticism from his offensive lineman and that’s exactly what he will be getting with Derrick Puni. During his time at Division II’s Central Missouri, Puni was able to earn AFCA 1st Team All American and D2Football 1st Team All American. He played both left and right tackle during his time in college before getting on the Dallas Cowboys as he competed for a job in the NFL. His experience in the shotgun style offense should help give him an advantage in competing for a spot on the roster.

Meeting the Dallas Renegades Coaching Staff

The biggest challenge that all eight teams in the XFL had was building their coaching staffs and rosters from scratch. That can also be the most exciting part of being a part of a new league and a new team as you can bring in people who make the most sense for your franchise. Bob Stoops was one of those head coaches/general managers who had the heavy task of first, building his coaching staff and then add the right players for their systems.

Stoops made it clear to have plenty of college coaches leading the players that include offensive coordinator Hal Mumme and defensive coordinator Chris Woods. This is a staff that has plenty of experience with developing young players to make the leap to the NFL. Now, they will have to deal with professional athletes looking for a second chance at playing pro football.

Here are the coaches that will be leading the team in Arlington in February.

Head Coach/General Manager: Bob Stoops

There’s no secret to the success that Bob Stoops has had in his career: 10 Big 12 titles, six time Big 12 Coach of the Year, two-time Walter Camp Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year, The Home Depot Coach of the Year, and a national champion. That’s what he was able to accomplish in 18 years as the Oklahoma Sooners head coach.

Prior to joining Oklahoma, he hopped around as an assistant for several colleges until he got promoted to Co-Defensive Coordinator for Kansas State with legendary head coach Bill Snyder from 1991 until 1995. In 1996, he started his first of three seasons as Steve Spurrier’s Defensive Coordinator at Florida, helping the Gators win the national title in 1997. His success at Kansas State and Florida made him a hot name for head coaching jobs around the country.

Oklahoma hired him in 1999 when he led them to seven wins in his first season, and then in season two he brought home a national title to Norman as that became the beginning of a historical career. Fourteen of his eighteen years as head coach, the team won ten or more games and never had a losing record in any season. Stoops is the only head coach in the BCS era to have won the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Rose Bowl. His last season was 2016 where he retired prior to the 2017 season when current head coach Lincoln Riley took over has head coach.

Stoops spent plenty of time in Dallas as OU, and Texas had plenty of meetings at the Cotton Bowl for their rivalry so it makes sense for him to take over the Dallas Renegades. He was the league’s first hire and it sent the sports world a strong message that this league is going to be legit and different from the last time around. It was a strong hire that should be able to develop these players to take the next step in their pro careers.

Offensive Coordinator: Hal Mumme

Hal Mumme created the now “Air Raid” offense that he created during his early high school/college coaching career back in the late 70’s-early 80’s. He scored his first major Division 1 head coaching job in the mid-90’s as he coached Kentucky from 1997 until 2000. During that time, he helped his quarterback Tim Couch become a Heisman candidate and get him drafted number one overall to the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL Draft. Mumme recorded a 20-26 record in four seasons and two bowl appearances. Mumme would jump around different head coaching jobs that include Southeastern Louisiana, New Mexico State, McMurry, and Belhaven. He was also offensive coordinator during that time for SMU and Jackson State.

His offense is predicated on having a strong passing game with a quarterback that can throw the ball down the field, fast receivers on the outside, and running backs who are versatile in catching passes out of the backfield. The players they have drafted sure fits with that mold. Lance Dunbar is known for being a top target on third down to throw it to if there isn’t a receiver open down the field. Jeff Badet, Stacy Coley, and the rest of the receivers can all run a 4.3-4.4 40-yard dash so their receivers should have no trouble getting open on deep passes. Landry Jones has already picked up the offense quickly and should be able to help teach the others as they continue their education in training camp in January.

Defensive Coordinator: Chris Woods

Woods is no stranger to Bob Stoops as he served as a defensive specialist coach from 2015 to 2017. Prior to that, he jumped around as a head coach for Mansfield and Stonehill, and an assistant coach for Harvard, Bryant, Columbia, and Holmes Community College. After his stint at Oklahoma, he was hired on as defensive coordinator for Texas State in 2018, and finished his only year there as the interim head coach of the team.

Woods runs a 3-4 defense that depends on having speed from their outside linebackers to be able to put pressure on the quarterbacks. He needs defensive ends and their outside linebackers to be versatile and be able to switch between both positions. The defense also needs tons of speed, which can be found in all three phases of their defense. Ray Ray Davison, Jonathan Massaquoi, James Folston, Johnathan Calvin, and recently acquired Markus Jones are among those who know Woods’ system well.

Offensive Line Coach: Jeff Jagodzinski

Jeff Jagodzinski has had an interesting journey as a coach as he has both college and professional experience. In 2007 after his time as offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, he was hired to take over the Boston College Eagles. In his two seasons at the helm, he led the team to 20-8 winning one of their two bowl appearances. He is known for coaching Matt Ryan and Gosder Cherilus who became first round picks. After taking an interview with the New York Jets for their head coaching opening, Boston College fired Jagodzinski after only two seasons. He failed to win the job over Rex Ryan and was eventually hired as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator, but never coached a regular season game for them as he was fired before the last preseason game.

Jagodzinski is familiar with coaching in start-up leagues as he was the head coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL as he only coached for one season before being let go. He would go on to be an assistant coach for Ave Maria, Georgia State, and Notre Dame High School in Tennessee. He has plenty of experience in the both the pros and college which should make him a valuable asset to the offense. He’ll have the responsibility in developing his linemen to have good pass blocks and be athletic on outside runs with the speed they have in the backfield.

Running Back Coach: Bobby Blizzard

Bobby Blizzard and Hal Mumme have familiarity with each other as Blizzard was an assistant coach under Mumme at McMurry and Belhaven between 2012 and 2016. Blizzard would get his first taste of professional coaching with the Memphis Express in the former Alliance of American Football, first as a Wide Receivers Coach, and then as the Offensive Coordinator in week 1 onward. Blizzard has what can be seen as a tough task (in a good way) with picking between Cameron Artis-Payne, Lance Dunbar, Austin Walter, Darnell Holland, and Marquis Young to be the lead back. Knowing Mumme’s offense makes Blizzard a key component in the offense and helping the other players develop in the Air Raid offense.

Wide Receiver Coach: Jarrail Jackson

Jarrail Jackson is a former Bob Stoops player as he was a receiver at OU when Stoops was first hired as their head coach. After a successful senior season under Stoops, he played two seasons with the Buffalo Bills and would play several more years in arena football. Jackson would go on to be an assistant coach for several schools including a six year run at Dartmouth, Davidson College, Mississippi State, and Central Oklahoma. He also was the director of player relations for Washington. Another coach who knows the Air Raid offense having played in it under Stoops and Mike Leach at OU. He’ll get to coach a speedy, talented receiving core posed to make big plays this season.

Quality Control/Tight Ends Coach: Scott Spurrier

As the son of legendary college head coach Steve Spurrier, Scott has experience as an assistant coach as he worked under his father at South Carolina for eight seasons. Scott Spurrier was previously the tight ends coach with his father in the Alliance of American Football for the Orlando Apollos. With familiarity between Stoops and Scott, he should have an easy time working with the tight ends to get them up to speed on the offense.

Defensive Line Coach: Jim Jeffcoat

Jim Jeffcoat should be a familiar name for Dallas Cowboy fans as he had a successful 14-year NFL career winning two Super Bowls with the Cowboys and was their defensive line coach from 1998 until 2004. He would go on to coach defensive lines for Houston, San Jose State, Colorado, and the Orlando Apollos. Led by Frank Alexander, Jeffcoat will have a ton of versatility on the line to move around and play with some speed.

Cornerbacks Coach: Marvin Sanders

Marvin Sanders has a long college coaching career that started in 1992 at Nebraska Wesleyan that led to defensive coordinator jobs at Nebraska-Omaha, North Carolina, Florida Atlantic, and recently Coastal Carolina. Sanders will have the chance to coach a talented group that includes Treston Decoud, Josh Hawkins, Dashaun Phillips, and Jamal Peters.

Safeties Coach: Kenny Perry

Local Dallas high school followers should know Kenny Perry as he was a head coach at Sam Houston High School, Haltom High School, and Arlington Bowie. After his head coaching career in high school, Perry transitioned to assistant coaching roles at TCU and Kansas. Marwin Evans and AAF standout Derron Smith headline a veteran safety crew for Perry to coach.

Defensive Quality Control/Outside Linebackers Coach: Mickey Matthews

Longtime coach Mickey Matthews has plenty of experience that includes defensive coordinator jobs at Texas State, Marshall, and Coastal Carolina. Not to mention that he is more well known for his career as a head coach for James Madison from 1999-2013 that includes a Division I-AA National Title in 2004. He compiled a 109-71 record with six playoff appearances, two conference titles, and only two losing records in his career. Stoops pulled Matthews out of retirement to coach the outside linebackers. He has a deep group with plenty of experience in the 3-4 defense and a ton of speed.

Breaking Down the XFL’s First Trades

The past few months have been filled with historical events from the league announcing its return to announcing team names to its first draft. Thursday was different though. We saw our first trades in the league’s history.

This week, news came out about the LA Wildcats making some cuts to its roster so this week seems to be the first round of roster moves made by all eight teams. We got a taste of the first trades by four of the franchises.

LA Wildcats Trade DT Leon Orr to the Tampa Bay Vipers for DT Trevon Sanders (December 11th)

This trade was actually made on December 11th, but not announced until Thursday so this is the official first trade in XFL history. Both the Wildcats and the Vipers decided to swap defensive tackles in Leon Orr and Trevon Sanders.

Orr heads back to his home state of Florida where he played at the University of Florida. He proved to be a force in the middle of the defensive line against the run while also showing he can get to the quarterback as he recorded 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in four seasons. He bounced around between NFL teams with the Raiders and the Dolphins. Earlier this year, he joined Steve Spurrier in Orlando with the Apollos in the Alliance of American Football where he recorded ten tackles in eight games. Orr will have to compete with Ricky Walker, Giorgio Newberry, and Josh Banks in training camp for roster spots.

Trevon Sanders was dominate during his time in college with Troy where he recorded over 100 tackles, 16 of them for a loss and six sacks from the defensive tackle position. Sanders was on the New York Jets in the NFL before getting drafted by the Vipers in the XFL Draft. He was expected to be competing for a starting job over in Tampa, but with the roster changes the Wildcats have been making, he might have a chance to make an impact on the defensive line. Under the leadership of a defensive-minded coach like Winston Moss could help him develop through training camp.

Tampa Bay Vipers Trade CB Arrion Springs to the LA Wildcats for CB Jalen Collins (December 17th)

CB Jalen Collins to @XFLVipers; CB Arrion Springs to @XFLWildcatsThey must have enjoyed their first trade so much that they decided to work together again on another trade involving their defenses. This time both teams wanted to make a move in their secondary.

Despite not known for being a ballhawk, Arrion Springs possess great coverage skills as he was a strong tackler at Oregon where he recorded 137 tackles, two interceptions, 44 pass deflections, three force fumbles and one fumble recovery. Springs has NFL experience as he bounced around between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers. He will be another new defender who should benefit from Moss and will compete with what is a young cornerback room.

Jalen Collins is another example of a surprise roster move by the Wildcats as he was predicted by many to be the veteran leader of the defense with his experience in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons where he saw playing time during the 2016 season with two interceptions in eight games played and led the team in tackles in their Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. He is one of the most experienced players in the league and shouldn’t have any trouble making the Vipers roster. He does have character issues as he was suspended four times during his NFL season. This could be his chance to prove his worth and be one of the best pass defenders in the XFL.

Dallas Renegades Trade WR Keith Mumphery for St. Louis BattleHawks LB Markus Jones (December 18th)

WR Keith Mumphrey to @XFLBattleHawks; LB Markus Jones to @XFLRenegadesThe Renegades have one of the deepest receiving cores in the league and with so much speed and talent on the roster, it’s no surprise Dallas decided to take advantage of their deep depth chart and find ways to improve other parts of their roster.

The rich keep getting richer for the BattleHawks as they add to their own deep receiving core that includes NFL veterans Quinton Patton and Terrance Williams. Mumphrey is known for his great play at Michigan State where he caught 88 balls for 1348 yards and seven touchdowns in his college career. He has great speed and looked good during mini-camp as he was able to get good separation from corners during one-on-one coverage. He could fill in at the slot for St. Louis if he was able to win a roster spot. His speed also makes him an asset on special teams with returning experience with the Houston Texans as that could be his ticket to make the team.

Markus Jones is no slouch player as he was one of the best defensive players in Division II football Angelo State where he was named National Defensive Player of the Year as he recorded a school record 17.5 sacks and had a career mark of 37 sacks. He was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens before making his appearance in the XFL. He’ll be a perfect fit in Chris Woods’ 3-4 defense as he has a ton of speed that can be utilized on the outside pass rush. He has a knack for hitting the quarterback and can play defensive end or linebacker so I expect him to be able to alternate between the two positions. This was a win-win trade for both teams.

Dallas Renegades Mini-Camp Observations

The Dallas Renegades hosted an open practice meet and greet event on Saturday as it gave fans their first glimpse into what the team is going to look like for the upcoming season. This is also a time for players to take advantage of the time together to not only learn their new systems in offensive coordinator Hal Mumme’s air raid offense and defensive coordinator Chris Woods’ 3-4 scheme, but a chance for them to build chemistry together. Fans saw first hand how much speed and talent is on the offensive side of the ball, and how strong the secondary is looking, after watching seven-on-seven drills. Despite not having the pads on quite yet, there were several tell-tale signs that things are looking up for Bob Stoops’ team.

Strong QB Situation

This is the quarterback situation that has the least amount of drama as it is clear cut that Landry Jones will be the starter, and Philip Nelson will be his backup. One thing that fans can tell: both of them look capable of running the air raid offense. Both quarterbacks displayed beautiful deep balls thanks in part to the speed of the wide receivers, but both quarterbacks threw perfect spiral passes and the placements of those passes were put in perfect spots. It’s the working relationship between the two that have helped in their development early.

“Landry’s been teaching me a lot,” Nelson said. “I really just kind of follow him around and try to learn as best as I can. Obviously, he has experience in the NFL and I’m just somebody who, it doesn’t matter who you are, I always like to learn from somebody. I can humble myself and anything that I like, I learn from you. Landry’s been a big help for me so far in this offense, especially because he got signed way back, and they have been working on this offense for a little bit, so he’s been teaching me everything so it’s been really good.”

Jones has gone as far as impressing Bob Stoops with his play on the field as well. “Landry in just a week and a half is got the offense down signal and everything,” Stoops said. “He could go out and play a game right now.”

It wasn’t all perfect though, as Jones missed an open Steven Dunbar in the back of the end zone during seven-on-seven when they were near the goal line and Nelson missed on some fade routes in the end zone, but they show pose in the pocket, and understand the system well. The chemistry that they have with their talented receivers were clear from practice and could be scary for opposing defenses once it is developed through training camp next month in Houston.

Deep, Fast Receiving Core

Oh boy, is this receiving core fast! There is so much speed around all their receivers as they displayed it well in all their deep routes they ran during practice. Jeff Badet and Stacy Coley were standouts during practice as they were able to effectively get open and have sure hands. They weren’t the only ones that were impressive in front of the fans.

Flynn Nagel, Joshua Crockett, and Jazz Ferguson stood out with me as both had really good practices on Saturday. Nagel’s 5-11 stature makes him a perfect slot receiver and showed really good hands. He reminded me of a young Wes Welker. If he keeps it up, I could see him compete for one of the two starting slot receiver positions when they run four receiver sets. Crockett is taller and would be more effective on the outside, but ran really good routes and was tough to cover on streak routes. With him being the second tallest receiver in the group, he will need to take advantage of that, and try to make the team by utilizing his height. Another tall receiver that showed good talent: Ferguson. He’s their tallest receiver at 6-5 and showed great ability in adjusting to the ball as he made an impressive over the shoulder catch during practice that impress his teammates and the crowd.

Running Back By Committee

Cameron Artis-Payne was taking first team snaps along with Dimitri Flowers as his fullback/halfback. Artis-Payne showed he’s going to be their inside runner as he has a ton of strength to him, but also showed that he has good hands out of the backfield. He looks to be the favorite to lead the running game.

We also got to see plenty of Dallas Cowboys fan favorite Lance Dunbar, Austin Walter, and Darnell Holland. Dunbar continued to show his main strength, which is to help in the passing game. I can see him being utilized on third down as another pass catcher. The North Texas product had 647 receiving yards in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and the St. Louis Rams, but hasn’t played since the 2017 season. For Dunbar though, it’s a second chance to step on the field and strap on the helmet once again.

“I just want to get the opportunity to play,” Dunbar said. “Injuries has been my problem in the past and you know I’m healthy. Been healthy for two years and wanna play football.”

Walter and Holland may both either get spots on the roster or both will have to compete for the number three running back spot on the depth chart.

3-4 Defensive Knowledge

Chris Woods is known for running his 3-4 defense when he was a defensive coordinator at Texas State. He will be implementing that same system into his new defense as he will be looking for speed in the secondary and his outside linebackers as pass rushers. One of those speedy linebackers they brought in was former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi. He played in the NFL from 2012 until 2016 before rejoining pro football in the Alliance with Tim Lewis’ Birmingham Iron team that saw him with a successful run recording three sacks and ten quarterback hits. Without pads on, this mini-camp for the younger players on defense is about learning and adjusting to the new system.

“That’s been a great process for me being a vet and helping these guys come along and seeing them out there making plays,” Massaquoi. “We’re all going to need to come together and win championships and win games together. I’m just happy to be apart of this team and contribute any of my skill set as possible.”

While there is much to be learned, Stoops was confident in where his defense needs to be at this point of the season. “We’re right where we want to be,” Stoops told reporters at the meet and greet. “Coach Woods and our staff there defensively, we’ve got everything in, guys are making checks on the line, and really very few hiccups so it’s been solid.”

Strong Secondary Play

These mini-camps are hard to judge on the defense since there is not much hitting without the pads on, but there was plenty to see with the secondary having to cover all that speed with the receivers. The corners looked good during practice as they showed to have speed of their own. Most had the majority of their practice dealing with one-on-one coverage.

Stand outs in the secondary included Dashaun Phillips and Treston Decoud who will be competing for starting jobs on the team. Both played coverage well in their one-on-one drills and were able to make a play on the ball when they were working. They should be the ones to look like along with AAF standout Derron Smith and NFL veteran Josh Hawkins.

Bob Stoops’ Leadership

For Stoops, he’s familiar with most of the players on the team as he had the chance to recruit most, if not all of them at one point in his college career. Four players on the team are former Stoops players, while the rest are new to working under him. Most of the players on the team are new with Stoops, but he’s given his players a strong first impression through mini-camp as well as the rest of the coaching staff.

“He’s a great player’s coach,” Dunbar said. “The guys are right behind him. Still learning, still getting to know him, still early so we’re still getting to know him, but he’s a great coach.”

“He’s a very good coach obviously,” Nelson said. “He has a lot of accolades. So far it’s been really good.”

“Coach Woods is amazing and Bob Stoops is great,” Massaquoi said. ‘The whole staff is just pristine, pristine all the way around.”

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.