LA Wildcats XFL Draft Recap

LA Wildcats head coach/GM Winston Moss has proven to be one of the more vocal coaches on social media as he has already won over the city with his attitude and approach to coaching. He hired long time NFL/college offensive coordinator and former Hawaii head coach Norm Chow to run the offense with the intent to throw the ball far and often. Defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson will take what he learned from Bill Belichick with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns as a player and New England Patriots as an assistant coach to his style of defense which will be speed off the edge from his defensive ends and linebackers (a position he thrived in for 13 seasons). Here is a look at who they were able to draft to represent Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Quarterback Assignment: Luis Perez, Texas A&M Commerce

New Wildcats quarterback Luis Perez had an incredible college career in Division II where his Texas A&M Commerce team won the school’s second national title in 2017 as well as took home the Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II’s Heisman Trophy) after throwing for over 5,000 yards and 46 touchdowns. In his two seasons playing at Texas A&M Commerce, he threw for over 8,300 yards with 78 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Perez made a fan out of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay after playing well with the team in the 2018 preseason leading to him making the practice squad for a short time. He made the leap to the Alliance of American Football where he was selected in the first round of the quarterback draft by the Birmingham Iron. After being named the starter, he led the Trent Richardson-led Iron to a 5-3 record, throwing for over 1,400 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Don’t let the stats deceive you as Perez had two games that saw him throw for two picks in each of those games. He came on strong once he got comfortable with the ball and played smart football. Richardson stole the show with eleven touchdowns with most consisting of short yardage runs. He was known more for being a good game manager, but Perez thrives the most when he is let loose to throw the ball around. Iron’s offense was more balanced with power running, but expect his numbers to look a lot like his college days in Chow’s pass-happy offense.

Phase One: Skill Players

  1. Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
  2. Rashad Ross, WR, Arizona State
  3. Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado
  4. Brandon Barnes, TE, Alabama State
  5. Larry Rose, RB, New Mexico State
  6. KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
  7. Martez Carter, RB, Grambling State
  8. Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa
  9. Scott Orndoff, TE, Pittsburgh
  10. Donteea Dye, WR, Heidelberg

The receiving core highlights a strong start for the Wildcats in Phase One as their second and third round picks were among the best receivers in the Alliance. Rashad Ross has blazing speed and reliable hands that resulted in him being leading the league in touchdown catches (7) and top three in catches and yards (36 catches and 583 yards) in eight games while playing with the Arizona Hotshots. Spruce was second in the league in catches (38) and proved to be a reliable target for the San Diego Fleet throughout their season. KD Cannon is also a name college fans will recognize as two of his three seasons at Baylor consisted of at least 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has great speed, but needs more professional experience after jumping around between teams in the NFL.

As for the running game, it will be led by North Carolina star Elijah Hood and New Mexico State star Larry Rose. Hood is better running between the tackles being the bigger, stronger back. Watch out for Rose to be the faster, more elusive back who has great hands. They should make for a great 1-2 punch between the two.

Looking at the tight ends they drafted, expect Scott Orndoff to be more of the receiving tight end as he put up good numbers in the passing game catching ten touchdowns in his last two seasons attending Pittsburgh. Orndoff also caught 7 balls for 130 yards and a touchdown while playing for the Orlando Apollos in the Alliance. Brandon Barnes also appeared in the Alliance where he recorded 9 receptions for 75 yards with the Memphis Express. Expect the two to battle it out for the starting tight end job.

Phase Two: Offensive Linemen

  1. Storm Norton, T, Toledo
  2. Fred Lauina, G, Oregon State
  3. Ryan Pope, T, San Diego State
  4. Jaelin Robinson, T, Temple
  5. Damien Mama, G, USC
  6. Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State
  7. Ryan Cummings, G, Wyoming
  8. Lene Maiava, T, Arizona
  9. Tyler Roemer, T, San Diego State
  10. Anthony Morris, T, Tennessee State

Norm Chow and his offensive staff put a lot of emphasis on pass protection and making sure to have young, strong tackles on each side of Perez. With the first overall pick of Phase Two, Storm Norton joins the Wildcats after having experience with the Lions, Cardinals, and the Vikings in the NFL. Standing at 6 ft 7 in, expect him and fellow tackle Ryan Pope to be handling each end of the line. Second round pick Fred Lauina also comes in with NFL experience with the Browns and should help with pass protect and give the line some versatility.

Phase Three: Defensive Front Seven

  1. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
  2. Eric Pinkins, LB, San Diego State
  3. Latarius Brady, DT, Memphis
  4. Willie Mays, DE, Tiffin
  5. Tre’ Williams, LB, Auburn
  6. Leon Orr, DT, Florida
  7. Reggie Howard, DT, Toledo
  8. Corey Vereen, DE, Tennessee
  9. Adrian Hubbard, DE, Alabama
  10. Owen Roberts, DT, San Jose State

Anthony Johnson leads the pack in Phase Three has the biggest name on the list from his days as a run stopper and pass rusher in college including 22 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Johnson also has four years of NFL experience and played well with the Memphis Express in the Alliance recording two sacks. Latarius Brady will be able to move around on the defensive line and play at the end or nose tackle. Brady does an exceptional job making plays against the run.

Eric Pinkins played well in the Alliance with the San Diego Fleet averaging about 3-4 tackles per game and proved to be a good open field tackler. Willie Mays is a versatile weapon that can play both defensive end and linebacker. Tre’ Williams made big plays at outside linebacker at Auburn after being named second team all-SEC. He should be another linebacker that can come off the edge quickly.

Phase Four: Secondary

  1. Jack Tocho, CB, North Carolina State
  2. Jaylen Dunlap, CB, Illinois
  3. C.J. Moore, CB, North Carolina Central
  4. Roman Tatum, CB, Southern Illinois
  5. Jordan Powell, S, Widner
  6. Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
  7. Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
  8. Jerome Couplin, S, William & Mary
  9. Mike Stevens, CB, North Carolina State
  10. Bryce Cheek, CB, Akron

Jack Tocho played well with the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance under former Iron head coach and current St. Louis BattleHawks defensive back coach Tim Lewis where he deflected six passes and grabbed one interception. Playing under another defensive-minded head coach should take him to the next level in his development. Jaylen Dunlap played great coverage at Illinois recording 11 pass deflections in his junior year, but needs more playing time on the professional level.

Ahmad Dixon had a successful career as a safety in Baylor and was drafted by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He should compete for a safety role as he proved to be good in coverage and is a highly active tackler for being in the secondary. Jerome Couplin has the most NFL experience in the secondary as he played for about 3 years in the league and last played in the Alliance with the Orlando Apollos. Expect him to be the veteran presence to help the younger players. C.J. Moore and Roman Tatum both played well in college and will get a chance to show their coverage skills on the big stage.

Phase Five: Open

  1. Taryn Christion, QB, South Dakota State
  2. Marsean Diggs, S, UAB
  3. Winston Dimel, RB, UTEP
  4. Nico Evans, RB, Wyoming
  5. Alex Fuches, LB, California
  6. Quentin Gause, LB, Rutgers
  7. Jalen Greene, WR, Utah State
  8. DeQuan Hampton, WR, USC
  9. Tyree Holder, CB, Ball State
  10. Joshua Jenkins, CB, Army
  11. Adonis Jennings, WR, Temple
  12. Taiwan Jones, LB, Michigan State
  13. Jalan McClendon, QB, Baylor
  14. Cordon Moog, TE, Baylor
  15. Ryan Navarro, LS, Oregon State
  16. Dame Ndiaye, DE, Portland State
  17. Nick Novak, K, Maryland
  18. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
  19. Damian Prince, T, Maryland
  20. Cedric Reed, DE, Texas
  21. Colton Schmidt, P, California-Davis
  22. Jerimiah Spicer, LB, No College
  23. Micah St. Andrew, G, Fresno State
  24. Johnny Stanton, TE, UNLV
  25. Andrew Stelter, DT, Minnesota
  26. Patrick Vahe, G, Texas
  27. Jaleel Wadood, S, UCLA
  28. Kermmit Whitfield, WR, Florida State
  29. LaDarius Wiley, S, Vanderbilt
  30. Andrew Williams, DT, Auburn

The biggest name on this final phase list no doubt was Shawn Oakman. It was an initial surprise for many XFL fans to see him still available after day one, but Oakman is a monster on the line who has plenty of strength to get off blocks and be nightmares for quarterbacks. I can see him start or be apart of the defensive line rotation. Love his motor and should be a fan favorite when teams start practicing.

Nico Evans is a player we got to examine on this very website as he showed great vision and really hard to take down after first contact. After rushing for over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns at Wyoming last year, he was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles for a short time before being let go. He’ll compete for a roster spot and might get a chance to join in the running back rotation.

On behalf of all former Alliance fans, I was glad to see Taiwan Jones drafted as he was signed to the Memphis Express 24 hours before the league officially folded. Now, him and Alex Fuches I expect to compete as they were great tacklers with high football IQs playing in Division One football. Punter Colton Schmitt and kicker Nick Novak are NFL veterans that add to a reliable special teams unit. I think the two are the best, most experienced duo in the XFL.

Conclusion

Norm Chow knows he’s got a young quarterback who is still in the early stages of his professional career, but this was a best case scenario for Perez as he fits better with Chow’s offense. His receiving core is strong with players mixed with great speed and hands. Fits perfectly with an offense that will pass as much as the Dallas Renegades will.

Defensively, this should be a solid unit with Pepper Johnson’s background in defense and work with two of the smartest minds in NFL history with Belichick and Bill Parcells. Oakman will be viewed as a player fans want to see play often and could make a major impact early. Anthony Johnson is another defensive lineman that will make an immediate impact. This could be one of the strongest defensive lines in the league.

Moss will have to get used to being a first time head coach, but with his strong coaching staff and talent on both sides of the ball, the secondary will be the focal point as to if those young players are ready to shut down the strong passing games that are in the West with the Renegades (Landry Jones) and Seattle Dragons (Brandon Silvers).

Introducing the Los Angeles Wildcats

YouTube video

 

The XFL has named their Los Angeles franchise, the Los Angeles Wildcats.

“In the land of bright lights. Far from the flash and fame. They’ve already begun to prowl. Enter their den and be dominated. Run away and be ripped apart. This is prime time meets primal instinct. This is showtime with a snarl. This is our time to roar. The L.A. Wildcats. Unleashed. February 2020.”

Under head coach Winston Moss, the team will begin play in Dignity Health Sports Park in February 2020.

XFL bolsters its ranks with new staff hires including former AAF Director of Player Personnel

The XFL bolstered its ranks with new staff hires, including a league-wide director of player administration, heads of communications in their Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Houston franchises, and a head of partnerships in LA.

Russ Giglio has joined as Director of Player Administration. Russ spent over eleven years at the NFL working in the Player Personnel and Football Operations departments, and most recently was the Director of Player Personnel at the former AAF. In his role at the XFL, he will be charged with overseeing Player Personnel policies and procedures, including the draft and waiver wire, and report to Doug Whaley, Senior Vice-President of Football Operations.

Lisa Milner Goldberg joins the league as head of communications for XFL Los Angeles, after eleven years working at Swanson Communications, a PR agency with a focus on boxing, individual athletes and live events. Allen Barrett will head up communications for XFL Tampa Bay after 11 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he most recently served as Senior Communications Manager.  Charles Hampton comes to Houston as head of communications for XFL Houston, where he spent eight years with the Houston Texans before heading up the athletic communications team at Grand Canyon University for the past four years.

Jim Baral also joins XFL Los Angeles as the Senior Director of Partnerships, after consulting for the Los Angeles Chargers for the past year and a half. A native of Los Angeles, Jim led media sales and marketing for Univision Networks and Cox Communications on the west coast for over 20 years.

XFL Names Winston Moss Los Angeles Head Coach

Los Angeles, Calif., May 7, 2019 – The XFL today announced that Winston Moss, most recently the associate head coach for the Green Bay Packers, and former NFL linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has been named head coach and general manager of the XFL team in Los Angeles.

“We’re excited to welcome to our ranks a professional like Winston Moss, who has over 30 years of experience as an NFL player and coach,” said XFL Commissioner & CEO, Oliver Luck. “As a young athlete, Winston won a national championship with the University of Miami and, as an assistant coach, he helped the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XLV. These are two remarkable accomplishments, and we look forward to seeing what he has in store for the fans of Los Angeles.”

“Winston has an impressive resume as a player and coach in the NFL and is the perfect choice to lead our Los Angeles team on the field,” said Heather Brooks Karatz, the recently named president of the XFL team in Los Angeles. “His passion for football and commitment to providing unique access to our fans makes him the ideal partner for what we’re looking to accomplish. We’re going to work together to give the people of Los Angeles a great football team and exceptional fan experience.”

“I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to be a head coach and GM in the XFL, especially in a city where I spent four years as an NFL player,” said Moss. “Starting a team and a league from scratch is unique and exciting, and I’m looking forward to working with Heather and her team, to develop a new football franchise for Los Angeles.”

As an NFL linebacker for 11 seasons with the Buccaneers (1987-90), Raiders (1991-94) and Seahawks (1995-97), Moss played in 155 games (146 starts), recording 768 tackles and 20.5 sacks. In 1999, Moss began his coaching career as the defensive quality control coach for the Seahawks, the last team for which he played. In 2000, he assumed the same position with the New Orleans Saints, where he began working with Mike McCarthy. A year later Moss was promoted to linebackers coach, a position he held through the 2005 season.

He was hired in 2006 by incoming Packers head coach McCarthy, as linebackers coach and promoted to assistant head coach/linebackers in 2007. His shifted his focus in 2009 to inside linebackers in 2009 and then back to all linebackers in 2014. Moss was a member of the coaching staff in 2010 that led the Packers to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Finally, he was named associate head coach, linebackers, in 2015, a position he held for the remainder of his time with the team.

During his 13 years with the Packers, Moss coached and mentored several defensive stalwarts including Pro Bowl linebackers A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, and Julius Peppers. Working closely with Moss, Matthews became the team’s all-time sack leader (83.5); Hawk established himself as the franchise’s all-time leader in career tackles (1,118); and Blake Martinez set the Packers’ single-season record for tackles in 2017 (144).

While playing for the L.A. Raiders, his teammates voted him the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award for his commitment to community service. He also received the NFL Players Association Unsung Hero Award for his leadership capabilities on and off the field. And, in 1997, the Seattle Seahawks players awarded Winston with the Steve Largent Award, recognizing the team contributor who best exemplified the spirit, dedication, and integrity of former Seahawk wide receiver Steve Largent.

Moss joins Kevin Gilbride (New York), Pep Hamilton (Washington, D.C.), Jonathan Hayes (St. Louis); Bob Stoops (Dallas), Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay) and Jim Zorn (Seattle) as the XFL head coaches named to date.

Moss was a four-year letterman at the University of Miami (Fla.) and helped the Hurricanes win the 1983 national championship. He was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

When the XFL kicks off in February 2020, the Los Angeles team will play its home games at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

XFL set to announce Head Coach/GM of Los Angeles Franchise

The XFL will play in the recently renamed Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly Stub Hub Center).

According to a planned live stream on Youtube, it seems that the XFL is planning to announce their Los Angeles Head coach on Tuesday May 7th.

This date has been confirmed by Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register, where he tweeted that the XFL will make the announcement on Tuesday, May 7th.

So far, there is no indication as to who the candidate may be. There are only vague rumors that Jim Mora Jr. and Mike McCoy may be possible hires. Mora was Head Coach at UCLA between 2012 and 2017, and has coached in the NFL for different teams including the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. McCoy served four seasons as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. He also has coached in the NFL, most recently as the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. Neither of these rumored names have been confirmed.

Noteworthy, is how strained the head coach hiring process seems to have become for the XFL. Of the eight XFL teams, the first six head coaches were announced as Bob Stoops (Dallas) on 7 February, Pep Hamilton (Washington) on 21 February, Jim Zorn (Seattle) on 25 February, Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay) on 5 March, Kevin Gilbride (New York) on 16 April, and Jonathan Hayes (St. Louis) on 18 April. It should be noted there was a long pause before Gilbride and Hayes were announced, and another relatively long pause before next Tuesday’s announcement. At one point in time, XFL representatives boasted they would have completed the hiring of head coaches for all franchises by March. Everything considered, they are two-months behind their originally planned schedule.

After Tuesday’s announcement, only the Houston franchise will be without a Head Coach/GM.

XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities

XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities
XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities

The XFL today announced the eight cities and venues its teams will call home when the league launches the weekend of February 8-9, 2020.

  • Dallas – Globe Life Park
  • Houston – TDECU Stadium
  • Los Angeles – StubHub Center
  • New York – MetLife Stadium
  • St. Louis – The Dome at America’s Center
  • Seattle – CenturyLink Field
  • Tampa Bay – Raymond James Stadium
  • Washington, DC – Audi Field

The announcement was made today by XFL Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck at a press conference held at MetLife Stadium, which included representatives from all eight markets.

“After months of research and consideration, we’re thrilled to announce the cities and venues of the XFL’s eight inaugural teams,” said Luck. “We are committed to being ingrained in the local community and extremely fortunate that our teams will have world-class facilities to call home.”

Beginning today, fans can go to XFL.com to reserve their season tickets, which will provide them with early access to select their seats and purchase season tickets before the general public.

The new XFL will deliver a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

About the XFL

The new XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when the league kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. We will build strong grassroots relationships with local organizations in our Host Cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

For more information, please log on to XFL.com and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Media Contact: Stephanie Rudnick – XFL Stephanie.rudnick@xfl.com