The St. Louis BattleHawks have added quarterback Taylor Heinicke to their roster ahead of today’s XFL Supplemental Draft

News from the St. Louis BattleHawks

“It’s important for every team to have three good quarterbacks,” BattleHawks Head Coach and General Manager Jonathan Hayes said.  “As I mentioned previously, we were going to add at least one more quarterback at some point, whether it was through the draft or signing someone. In this case, we’re very excited the league has assigned us Taylor.”

An All-American and Walter Payton Award winner, Heinicke passed for nearly 15,000 yards while at Old Dominion and ranked third all-time in FBS history in total offense, fourth in FBS with 132 touchdown passes and sixth in passing yards.

The 26-year old Heinicke joins quarterbacks Jordan Ta’amu and Brogan Roback on the BattleHawks. Ta’amu was also signed by the XFL and assigned to St. Louis and the team drafted Roback in October.

“Like Jordan, Taylor is someone that we scouted and expressed our interest in to the league,” Hayes said. “His skill set fits nicely with the type of offense we plan to run. And it never hurts to add someone who has additional pro experience. All three quarterbacks will have the chance to show what they can do.  And from a work standpoint, it will be beneficial to have three arms to handle all the throws that are going to be made in camp.”

Undrafted in 2015, Heinicke spent time with the Minnesota Vikings (2015-2017), New England Patriots (2017), Houston, Texans (2017) and the Carolina Panthers (2018-2019).

St. Louis will also participate in the XFL Supplemental Draft, which begins today at 11am CT. The BattleHawks will pick eighth in the draft, which will use a snake format and consist of ten minutes per round, one minute per pick, and have a three minute break between rounds. Picks will be shared at XFL.com at the conclusion of the draft.

Analyzing the St. Louis BattleHawks 2020 XFL Season Schedule

St. Louis BattleHawks Schedule

It was the fall of 2018, nearly an entire calendar year had passed since Vince McMahon made public, his intention of relaunching the XFL in February of 2020.  Another spring pro football league in the AAF,  jumped out in front of the field for a February 2019 launch. The Alliance had secured it’s eight locations for the start of their season. The XFL had yet to announce where their proposed eight teams would end up playing. Then finally after months of speculation, the league announced that it would reveal it’s eight team cities and stadiums on December 5th, but prior to the big reveal, word leaked out that St. Louis would be one of the league’s team cities, and that their games would be played at The Dome at America’s Center. The XFL’s first big score was the hiring of Oliver Luck as it’s CEO and Commissioner, but it felt like it’s first big victory came, the day St. Louis was revealed to be one of the league’s cities.

Here we are, nearly a year later and St. Louis has become the BattleHawks. The front office and coaching staff has been put in place and the team just conducted a 70 player draft. The league and its teams have been built from scratch, brick by brick, building momentum towards the moment when the league finally gets on the field in February. With team uniforms, the league rules and training camps on the horizon, the league has unveiled it’s 2020 Season Schedule. The BattleHawks are now open for business.

WEEK 1-  AT THE DALLAS RENEGADES- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH/ 4PM CT/5PM ET/ GLOBE LIFE PARK/ESPN

This week, the XFL is saving their best game for last. This always seemed like potentially the marquee game for week one of the season. The who and what is a perfect fit. The when and where is certainly not what was expected. The feeling was that St. Louis would be kicking off the season for the league at home. Dallas with Bob Stoops at the helm, certainly seemed like a strong contender to be playing in the league’s premiere game. The XFL’s two most interesting teams are playing each other in week one, but they are not kicking off the season, and they are not playing in Saint Louis. Instead, the game is being played in a stadium that is currently being renovated and retrofitted for football. Dallas playing at home in week one is a surprise, beyond the location of the game itself. There are so many built in storylines for this game. From Bob Stoops returning to the sidelines and coaching pro football for the first time, to St. Louis making it’s return to Pro Football. Then there’s the  Stoops-Jonathan Hayes connection dating back to their days together at Iowa and Oklahoma. You also have, Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston leading another Texas spring pro football team, except this time back in Dallas. There’s the battle of two Air-Raid offensive coordinators in the legendary Hal Mumme and Doug Meacham. Another key storyline is, All Big 12 West Virginia Safety Kenny Robinson turning pro, before he is draft eligible for the NFL. The oddsmakers haven’t set a line for this game yet, but you have to figure that Dallas is the heavy favorite. St. Louis is potentially starting a rookie quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu, on the road. While Dallas trots an NFL veteran quarterback in Landry Jones, who reunites with Stoops, and gets to run Hal Mumme’s lethal passing attack. This is a big spot for St. Louis. A statement game if you will. Winning this game could set the team on course for big things the rest of the way.

WEEK 2-  AT THE HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH/ 5PM CT/6PM ET/ TDECU STADIUM/FS1

You have to wonder if BattleHawks Head Coach and General Manager Jonathan Hayes will consider staying in Texas during these first two  weeks. The league-wide training camp will take place in Houston in January. So the BattleHawks will be spending a lot of time in the state during the early part of 2020. This is a tough two game stretch. The BattleHawks defense will be tested in these opening two weeks. First with Hal Mumme in week one, and then followed up by June Jones and the Roughnecks offense. Despite these first two weeks being non-divisional opponents. The BattleHawks would love to come out of Texas 2-0, heading into their home opener. No team in the league has a tougher task than St. Louis to start the season.

WEEK 3-  HOME VS THE NEW YORK GUARDIANS- SUNDAY,  FEBRUARY 23RD/ 2PM CT/3PM ET/ THE DOME/ ESPN

The most intriguing home opening game of the entire league comes in week 3. This is a historic game for the city and it should be a very emotional setting. In a 10 game season, every game is important, specifically divisional games. If the BattleHawks come in flying high at 2 and 0. They will be unstoppable in this setting. If they come into this game at 0 and 2. This might be just what the doctor ordered to save their season.

WEEK 4-  HOME VS THE SEATTLE DRAGONS- SATURDAY,  FEBRUARY29TH/ 4PM CT/5PM ET/ THE DOME/ FOX

After 3 straight Sunday games, St. Louis finally plays on Saturday, and finally on broadcast network television for the first time this season. This will be their third non divisional game in the first quarter of their season. It’s usually at this point of the season where the teams begin to hit their stride and have their on field identities established. In a new league with eight newly formed teams. There is going to be a growing process early on. The game has two former longtime NFL players, coaching against one another in Jonathan Hayes and Jim Zorn. St. Louis and Seattle have had plenty of history against each other in a previous pro football life.

WEEK 5-  AT THE DC DEFENDERS- SUNDAY, MARCH 9TH/ 2PM CT/3PM ET/ AUDI FIELD/ FS1

The BattleHawks begin another two game road stretch, both of the games are against division opponents. In any football league, stealing road games against division foes can pay huge dividends for later in the season. St. Louis will have eight days to get ready for Cardale Jones and Pep Hamilton’s DC offense.

WEEK 6-  AT THE TAMPA BAY VIPERS- SATURDAY, MARCH 15TH/ 4PM CT/ 5PM ET/RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM/  FS2

The 3rd straight Fox Sports airing of the BattleHawks. First game on FS2. St. Louis plays 4 of their first 6 games on the road. These games are very important, if the team can come out of this stretch at 3 and 3 or better. They will be in good shape. With 3 of their last 4 games at home.

WEEK 7-  HOME VS THE LOS ANGELES WILDCATS- SATURDAY, MARCH 21ST/ 4PM CT/ 5PM ET/THE DOME/ FOX

Another Fox Sports airing, but this time on network television. Many XFL supporters were hoping for this game to take place in week one. Being that both these teams are in separate divisions. This game could have been at LA, but the league’s schedule makers did the fans a great service, by putting this game in St. Louis. The history between LA and STL in pro football is well known. There’s bad blood between both of these markets, and this is a natural rivalry because of it.  The bad blood spills onto the sidelines, as former on field rivals Winston Moss and Jonathan Hayes, also have history with one another, dating back to their on field clashes. Winston Moss made a point to playfully call out Hayes during his introductory press conference in LA earlier this year. The buildup to this game should be a lot of fun.

WEEK 8- AT THE NEW YORK GUARDIANS- SATURDAY, MARCH 28TH/ 4PM CT/5PM ET/METLIFE STADIUM/  FOX

You would think that St. Louis was back in the NFC West, with all these Fox games on the schedule. This is a make or break stretch for the BattleHawks. They play three straight divisional games. This is their final road game of the regular season. They close out the year at home in the last two weeks. Because of the league’s brilliant scheduling of all divisional games in the final three weeks. The majority of the league’s teams will still be in contention for a playoff spot, regardless of record. How teams fare in this stretch will determine, who competes for a chance to get to the league championship. Depending on what transpired in week 3, this could be St. Louis looking to exact revenge on New York for spoiling their homecoming, or St. Louis looking to complete a season sweep on New York.

WEEK 9- HOME VS THE TAMPA BAY VIPERS- SUNDAY, APRIL 5TH/ 11AM CT/ 12PM ET/ THE DOME/ ESPN

The earliest game of the season for St. Louis. With  New York and DC playing on Saturday, The BattleHawks will have a good idea where they stand, if they are in the division or playoff chase. You have reached the point of must win territory. This is the Vipers and BattleHawks second meeting in 4 weeks. One of the scheduling quirks that happens in smaller leagues. The AAF experienced this last year when San Antonio played San Diego in weeks one and three, and when Arizona also played Salt Lake in weeks one and three as well.

WEEK 10- HOME VS THE DC DEFENDERS- SUNDAY, APRIL 12TH/ 2PM CT/3PM ET/ THE DOME/ ABC*

The BattleHawks finally make their debut on ABC…. maybe. The start time and network that this game airs on is still tentative. Both Disney and Fox have reserved the option to switch this game with the New York-DC game, which is currently slated to be on FS1 at 6pm eastern. Naturally, the assumption is that this weekend’s games are being flexed depending on which divisional matchup has better playoff implications. However, the network press releases for the league schedule, has a decision date for the potential switch of this game set for a month earlier in March. So the game may be switched due to network programming changes. St. Louis could be in a prime position on the final Sunday of the season to clinch a playoff berth or division at home. This would be a great way to cap off St. Louis’s return to Pro Football.

St. Louis BattleHawks XFL Draft Recap

St. Louis has had a long and intriguing history in Pro Football.  Four pro teams in total. Two of them, the All-Stars and Gunners, played briefly in the NFL in the 20’s and 30’s and folded. The other two teams were relocated franchises in the Cardinals (1960-1987), and the Rams (1995-2015). In between it all,  as a failed expansion bid in the early 90’s for a team to be called ‘The Stallions’, and in the biggest what if scenario. The purchase of the New England Patriots in 1992 by St. Louis native James Orthwein, who planned to move the Patriots after the 1993 season to St. Louis, only to have the teams stadium owner, Robert Kraft pull a power play to wrestle away ownership and keep the Pats in New England. The rest as they say is history, and the history of pro football in St. Louis can be best described as bittersweet.

The BattleHawks are looking to become the first pro football team in St. Louis, to be born in the market and stand the test of time. The truth is, if the XFL suffers the same fate as other pro football leagues have before it.  Seven of the league’s eight team markets will be disappointed but ultimately and eventually, they will move on. St. Louis is a different story altogether. There’s a lot at stake here for the city. There may come a time again, where the River City finds another gateway into the NFL, but it may hinge on how well STL does with the XFL.  The success of San Antonio in the AAF opened eyes for the NFL, and that city will certainly be on the radar if the 100 year league ever expands again. Jacksonville’s great success in the USFL, where they would routinely sell out the Gator Bowl, led to multiple NFL teams looking to relocate there, before the city ended up outbidding St. Louis for an NFL team of their own. How well the BattleHawks are embraced by the city, will go along way in changing the perception that Saint Louis is not really suited or meant for Pro Football. The XFL and St. Louis share the same goal and mindset, they are both out to prove that they belong on the pro football landscape.

The St. Louis BattleHawks are cleared for take off after last week’s 70 player five-phase draft. Before we take an in depth look at the Quarterback, who was assigned to St. Louis,  and the players they drafted.  It’s important to note the person who is running St. Louis’s player personnel department. Trey Brown, only 34 years old, the former player turned executive, has risen quickly up the pro football ranks in such a short period of  time.   Brown started out as a scout for the New England Patriots, he then moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he rode up the ranks to become the team’s Director of College Scouting. Trey Brown barely in his 30’s, interviewed for the GM jobs of the Buffalo Bills in 2017, and the Oakland Raiders in 2018. Earlier this year in the AAF, Brown was the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Birmingham Iron. There’s been plenty of debate among XFL followers about the BattleHawks draft.

One thing that can’t be overlooked is the fact, that three of the players drafted by St. Louis, have already  been signed by NFL teams. Corbin Kaufusi signed on to The New York Jets practice squad. Wes Saxton signed onto the Washington practice squad, and Tyler Gauthier signed onto the New England Patriots practice squad as well. Another draft pick, Center James Murray has also worked out for NFL teams recently. This is a clear indicator that the BattleHawks front office values players, that the NFL and it’s teams also covet. Keep that in mind when dissecting the BattleHawks roster. Specifically when it comes to the Quarterback they earmarked and signed to be their projected starter.

 

QUARTERBACK ASSIGNMENT: JORDAN TA’AMU- OLE MISS

This is the equivalent of a team drafting a Quarterback for the future, except in this case, the future might be right now.  The 21 year old Jordan Ta’amu is an undrafted rookie quarterback, who spent the summer backing up Deshaun Watson in Houston. The ‘Throwin Samoan’ doesn’t have the track record that the other seven XFL Quarterbacks have, but it can be argued that no other quarterback has more talent or upside than Ta’amu. He is as raw as it gets.

A true developmental quarterback, who only has two years of big time college football experience under his belt, the 6’3 gunslinger with impressive mobility, started out at the New Mexico Military Institute for two seasons before transferring to Ole Miss in 2017. Jordan started out as a backup behind Shea Patterson, but took over as the teams starter for the final five games, when Patterson went down to Injury.  Ta’amu threw for over 1,600 yards in that brief stretch, completed 66 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. He also proved to be quite the mobile threat with 4 touchdowns on the ground. Patterson transferred to Michigan, while Jordan took over as the full time starter in 2018.

Ta’amu had a fantastic senior season, finishing second in the SEC in passing yards, behind only Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.  Ta’amu completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,918 yards with 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also rushed for 342 yards and 6 touchdowns.

The knock on Ta’amu, and the reason he went undrafted is two-fold. He’s not a polished product. Ta’amu has a big arm and great mobility, but his lack of experience and overall consistency with his mechanics show up on film. He’s still a maturing Quarterback, that needs more seasoning to work on his accuracy and timing. The other knock against Ta’amu, was the passing targets that he worked with at Ole Miss, and the lack of variety in his throws. Three of Ta’amu’s top passing targets with the Rebels, are all in the NFL in DK Metcalf, AJ Brown and Dawson Knox. BattleHawks Offensive Coordinator Doug Meacham has quite the task at hand to develop and work with Jordan’s skillset. Part of Meacham’s mode of attack is to do just that, attack down the field frequently. That is one of Jordan’s strengths.

The team may end up addressing this position again somewhere before or after minicamp in December. Perhaps with a veteran. However, there’s no denying that the sky is the limit for Ta’amu. The question is, will he be ready for take off come February.

 

PHASE 1- SKILL PLAYER DRAFT

It’s time to speculate. It’s what football fans do. There’s a reason to believe that the BattleHawks were targeting Connor Cook in the skill position draft. The Brogan Roback selection in this round strongly suggests that Quarterback was high on the teams list of priorities. As is customary, in sports league drafts. A team will take a player that you coveted off of your board, which may lead you into a different direction. For example, the Dallas Renegades recently stated that one of the players they targeted in Phase 2 of the draft, was taken ahead of them by The New York Guardians. In true team-speak fashion, Dallas says that their  first 17 selections were all the #1 players on their board when their pick came up. Another piece of evidence that Connor Cook may have been on the BattleHawks radar before Houston picked him second, is the fact that Connor Cook worked out at the St. Louis Summer Showcase in front of Jonathan Hayes and his entire staff. Exhibit B, Connor Cook was on the Bengals roster, when Jonathan Hayes was coaching on that offensive staff. Am I reaching perhaps? Maybe, but the fact that STL took a QB with their second pick suggests to me that this was a position they were targeting, to hedge their bets on their talented assigned rookie Quarterback.

If RB was Plan B, The BattleHawks knocked this position out of the park. There was a time where Christine Michael and Matt Jones were projected to be feature backs in the National Football League. Both players are relatively young, and do not have the usual thread on their tires, that running backs, their age usually have. Michael is supremely gifted. A former track star and five star recruit. Coming out of Texas, he won the Walter Payton award for being the best high school player in the entire nation. A former 2nd round pick, who never really broke through to become a feature back in the pros. A career 4.3 yards per carry, on only 254 career carries, he didn’t start in the pros until his 3rd year in the league, and has only 9 career starts under his belt. His career stat line reads like a single season, 1,080 rushing yards with 7 touchdowns. Jones is a former 5th round pick. A bruising 6’2 231 pound back with good movement skills. Jones was thrust into a starting role in the NFL, but was never able to stay healthy. He’s still only 26 years old, and is the perfect compliment to Michael.

BattleHawks receivers coach, Az Hakim will have a lot of talent to work with.  Six receivers were taken by the BattleHawks in this phase. Standing out from this group is De’Mornay Pierson El and local Missouri product L’Damian Washington. Pierson El had an impressive stint in the AAF, and with the Raiders this past summer. He has great open field ability and can be a lethal punt returner. Washington is 6’4 with long speed. Trey Brown has familiarity with him from his time in Birmingham. What a journey it has been for L’Damian as a pro. He’s 28 years old, but has been on count ’em, 7 NFL teams, 2 CFL teams and an AAF team. He’s never been able to stick anywhere or break through despite his immense talent. Doug Meacham’s Air Raid offense is ideally suited for these two potential starters.

Marcus Lucas is another Missouri player. A jumbo sized WR at 6’4 250 lbs, who can also play TE if need be. Lucas like Washington has been on several NFL teams since going undrafted in 2014. Nine different NFL teams, Lucas has bounced back and forth from practice squads and futures contracts.

Alonzo Russell spent time with Jonathan Hayes in Cincinnati.

The final pick in this phase, Jordan Lasley is a former 5th round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. As a Junior, he led the Pac-12 in receiving yards. Lasley’s issues have been off the field. He was suspended in his junior season for 3 games, for undisclosed reasons. Then as a pro, this past summer. He was waived by Baltimore after getting into a fight with multiple teammates. The Raiders claimed him off waivers but he was subsequently cut weeks later. There was a stretch there at UCLA, where he was a dominant player, that led to him being drafted despite his off field issues. It’s possible that Lasley never sees the field in the XFL, but that’s up to him.

 

PHASE 2- OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

Solid group all around. Matt McCants stands out as the senior offensive lineman in this phase. The 30-year old former NFL draft pick, has spent most of his career as a swing lineman in the NFL. He really shined last season with the Birmingham Iron in the AAF. Another Trey Brown tie in. Coincidentally, the Iron’s head coach Tim Lewis, is STL’s DB’s coach. So there is direct knowledge of this player in the front office and on this staff.

When talking about tie-ins to St. Louis, there’s former St. Louis Ram, Brian Folkerts. He is another veteran offensive lineman, who can play guard and center. He has 28 NFL games under his belt, but like McCants, he’s been mostly a swing lineman in the pros.

Dallas Thomas may end up being one of the league’s better guards. He’s a former 3rd round pick of the Miami Dolphins, has 26 career starts under his belt.

In secondary football leagues, the hardest area to find quality players is on the offensive line. Sometimes coaches lean on connections, and that is spelled out throughout this entire draft. Trent Perkins from Texas, spent two years with The Cincinnati Bengals. He was coached by BattleHawks line coach Brian Braswell, who came over with Jonathan Hayes to STL. Perkins has been shifted back and forth off the Bengals practice squad since 2017. In August of this year, he decided to retire and was subsequently waived by Cincy. Two months later, he came out of retirement to finally get a chance to start,  and rejoins his former Bengals coaches, who certainly had a hand in him restarting his career.

Jake Campos spent an entire season on the Cowboys practice squad in 2018. A very good player at Iowa State, Campos, a college OT projects inside to guard. A transition he has been making since turning pro.

This is a strong group from 1 to 10. Murray is being worked out by NFL teams. Gauthier is on the Patriots. Dejon Allen was an all conference player at Hawaii, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty is a monster tackle with tons of upside. A late bloomer at Michigan, who needs to control his weight.

 

PHASE 3- DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN

Another strong group from top to bottom. While many of these players are not household names. Once you start digging deep, it’s hard not to see the upside in the majority of these players.

The most notable players selected here are Marcus Hardison, Khyri Thornton and Casey Sayles. All three have good college pedigrees and NFL backgrounds. Defensive Coordinator Jay Hayes, who has made a living coaching up defensive lineman in the NFL for years, has some experienced  D-Lineman to work with.

Channing Ward is a player that Hayes coached up in Tampa with The Buccaneers. Ward is an undersized 279 pound DT with pass rushing skills, who hasn’t been able to stay healthy as a pro.

Andrew Ankrah was a big time defensive star in the FCS for James Madison. He also flashed in the AAF with Orlando.

Another Apollo, Terrance Garvin was arguably the best all around linebacker in the AAF. Where Garvin stands out is his ability to play sideline to sideline.

Nicholas Grigsby is a similar type player. Grigbsy has been on and off 6 separate NFL team practice squads. A 6’2 230 pound linebacker with 4.50 speed. Grigsby is also a hard hitter, who could end up being a tone setter on this defense.

The biggest sleeper in this entire phase is Jamell Garcia-Williams. He might not make it to the roster come February. The 6’7 255-pound edge rusher from UAB, had 9.5 sacks last season and 15 tackles for loss in his senior season.  He went undrafted and was signed by the Niners, before being waived at final cuts. NFL teams including the Raiders have worked him out, and JGW is on NFL teams radars. No shame in not making the Niners roster, who currently boast the NFL’s best pass rush and pass defense.

Another player that was part of NFL roster cutdown day is Gimel President. The versatile edge rusher can play at DE and has stood up as well at outside linebacker.

 

PHASE 4- DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD

The BattleHawks took a very unique approach in this phase of the draft. While every other team seemed to go CB heavy with their first few picks. The BattleHawks decided to attack the safety position, and boy, did they ever, using four of their first five picks at Safety. There is a caveat to that. Herb Miller, who is listed at safety, can also play corner. Miller is a long player with great open field tackling skills, who has experience playing in the nickel and at safety. He’s not a traditional outside corner because of his lack of speed, but he can be a very effective cover safety who can exclusively play in the slot and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Miller tried out for the Chiefs this summer, and impressed enough to earn himself a contract. He didn’t make it at final cuts, but I doubt that his playing days in the NFL are over.

The biggest story coming out of this phase for St. Louis is Kenny Robinson. The All Big-12 safety who is projected to be a day two NFL draft pick, has decided to turn pro now, as a way of getting prepared for the NFL draft when he is draft eligible. Robinson was highly rated by Pro Football Focus for his coverage skills at West Virginia. He’s coming into the perfect situation. Playing alongside two quality veteran safeties in Will Hill and Dexter McCoil.

Cornerback D’Montre Wade is very similar to Herb Miller, a strong press corner who plays very physical. You get the sense that Tim Lewis, who will be coaching up the defensive backs, is going to be playing a lot of zone and press coverage.

Marquez White is a real sleeper in this group at corner. Former 6th round pick of the Dallas Cowboys from Florida State. He played opposite Jalen Ramsey in college and played shutdown corner opposite him, only allowing two touchdowns in two seasons as a starter. If you are the other corner opposite Ramsey, teams are going to throw your way. White held up his end of the bargain.  Puzzling that he hasn’t stuck in the NFL after being with Dallas for two seasons as a deep reserve. White started at corner for the Orlando Apollos earlier this year and received high grades.

Trey Caldwell is a former 5th round pick by The Browns, out of ULM. He has 4.34 speed but stands at only 5’9. Another player at the bottom end of NFL rosters that never broke through.

Ryan White is yet another player who can play safety and corner on this roster.

The theme continues from picks 1 through 10.

 

PHASE 5- OPEN DRAFT

With the first pick in the open phase of the draft, St. Louis went kicker with Elliott Fry. Just days prior, the New England Patriots worked him out. Fry was perfect in the AAF for Orlando, going 14 for 14 in his 8 weeks of play. That landed him with the Bears in a kicking competition with Eddy Pinero, who ultimately won out. Fry then finished up with Baltimore before being let go. No way, he was replacing Justin Tucker. Despite Fry’s quality as a kicker, many have questioned STL’s decision to draft a kicker so early in a 30 round phase.

The one area that was surprisingly not addressed was the Quarterback position. The feeling was with two very young signal callers on the roster in Ta’amu and Roback, that Saint Louis would consider taking one of the veteran Quarterbacks remaining in the draft pool. Players like Joe Callahan and BJ Daniels were drafted in this phase, and a  veteran like a Zach Mettenberger was also available.

The BattleHawks continued to address their offensive line depth by taking capable lineman who could have easily gone in Phase 2, in Andrew McDonald, Avery Young and Korren Kirven. The majority of the XFL teams are carrying up to as many as 15 offensive lineman going into mini-camp in December.

One of the biggest sleeper picks in the entire draft is TE Connor Davis, out of Stony Brook. I watched him first hand impress at the New York Summer Showcase at Montclair State. He sticks out like a sore thumb at 6’8 270 plus pounds. A great athlete at that size as well with a 10-foot broad jump. He has untapped potential, and with Phase 1 TE Wes Saxton, currently in the NFL, and with Jonathan Hayes, a former NFL tight end, and former tight ends coach. This is the team you want to be on if you are a tight end looking to develop.

 

Conclusion

The team is well built upfront on the offensive line and on the back end of their defense. OL, DT, S and RB are the teams strongest position groups.  What will make or break the BattleHawks this season is their Quarterback play. Despite Ta’amu’s upside, he’s a question mark as a rookie pro quarterback. On the plus side, It really pays to have a Director of Player Personnel like Trey Brown,  that has just gone through the experience of being in a spring pro football league earlier this year. There’s a strong AAF imprint on the entire roster.  Trey Brown also has NFL experience of scouting players for two great organizations in Philly and New England.  It also helps to have a head coach like Jonathan Hayes and Jay Hayes, who both were in the NFL last season, and have been quality assistants in the NFL for a long time.  Their knowledge and experience helped them land quality players that were on the back end of NFL rosters in 2018, and this summer… players with upside who haven’t had the chance to be starters. That’s really what the XFL is all about.

Introducing the St. Louis BattleHawks

YouTube video

 

The XFL has named their St. Louis franchise, the St. Louis BattleHawks.

“Winged warriors. Preparing for flight. Preparing to fight. They await their orders. Then attack as one. Diving, dodging, swooping, striking. Their mission: create chaos. Their mandate: Win at all costs. The St. Louis BattleHawks. Cleared to engage. February 2020.”

Under head coach Jonathan Hayes, the team will begin play in The Dome at America’s Center in February 2020.

XFL St. Louis will celebrate their new team name and logo with a fan appreciation party

XFL St. Louis is planning to celebrate their new team name and logo with a fan appreciation party, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 3pm-8pm CT.

WHO: Kurt Hunzeker, XFL St. Louis Team President

WHAT:  XFL St. Louis will celebrate their new team name and logo with a fan appreciation party at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in The Grove.  Beginning at 3pm, XFL St. Louis fans will have an opportunity to mix and mingle with team executives, football operations personnel and more!

WHEN:  Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 3pm-8pm CT

WHERE:  Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Brewery and Bierhall in The Grove, 4465 Manchester Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110

St. Louis Native Kurt Hunzeker Named President of City’s XFL Team

Stamford, Conn., June 25, 2019 – The XFL today announced that St. Louis native Kurt Hunzeker, most recently the Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research for Minor League Baseball (MiLB), has been named President of the XFL football team in St. Louis.

The St. Louis XFL team will take the field in February 2020 for its inaugural season and play its home games at The Dome at America’s Center. Jonathan Hayes is the team’s head coach and general manager.

Hunzeker, a University of Missouri graduate, will be responsible for the team’s fan engagement and business operations, including ticket sales, corporate partnerships, marketing, content, communications, community relations, and the game day experience.

“Vince McMahon, Oliver Luck and I are fortunate to have an executive as accomplished as Kurt join the XFL family as President of our St. Louis team,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President and Chief Operating Officer. “He is a dynamic sports business professional who will put his two decades of strategic leadership, creativity and operational experience to work as we reimagine the game and return professional football to St. Louis.”

“I’m thankful for this incredible opportunity to be part of the team that is bringing football back to town,” said Hunzeker. “The XFL team in St. Louis will be the first modern professional football team born in and exclusively for this great city. Each neighborhood is proud to be a unique subset of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, and I’ve been blessed to live in quite a few. I pledge to work with Coach Hayes to make this team an integral part of this terrific, sports-loving community and look forward to bringing reimagined football and fan-centric fun to the Dome in 2020.”

In his position with MiLB, which he held since 2015, Hunzeker identified potential commercial partners and developed brand-building campaigns, fan engagement strategies and innovative strategic marketing plans for the organization and on behalf of 160 teams. During his tenure, he developed MiLB’s 10-year strategic marketing plan, including its first-ever national campaign, “It’s Fun to Be a Fan®”, and the Spanish-language version, “Es Divertido Ser Un Fan™”. He also managed the creation of Copa de la Diversión™ (the “Fun Cup”), a season-long event series celebrating the unique heritage and contributions of each team’s respective Hispanic communities that will include more than half of MiLB’s franchises by 2020.

Hunzeker joined MiLB after spending five years with St. Louis-based Rawlings Sporting Goods as Senior Director of Brand Marketing, where he directed the company’s global brand marketing and media buying efforts. He also spearheaded the integration of sabermetrics into the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process, its expansion into other professional leagues, and the creation of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award national fan vote initiative.

Hunzeker was an adjunct professor at Maryville University’s John E. Simon School of Business in St. Louis (2014), and served as a member of the St. Louis University Sports Business Advisory Board (2011-2014).

He graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May 1999 with a Bachelor of Journalism. He currently resides in Tampa, but he and his family will soon return home to the St. Louis area.

Jonathan Hayes Named XFL Head Coach in St. Louis

The XFL today announced that Jonathan Hayes, the Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach for the last 16 seasons and a standout NFL tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, has been named the head coach and general manager of the XFL team in St. Louis.

St. Louis, Mo., April 18, 2019 – The XFL today announced that Jonathan Hayes, the Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach for the last 16 seasons and a standout NFL tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, has been named the head coach and general manager of the XFL team in St. Louis.

The XFL team in St. Louis will play its home games at The Dome at America’s Center when the league kicks off in February 2020.

“It’s an honor to provide Jon an opportunity to be a head coach for the first time after 37 years as a player and assistant coach in the NFL and at the college level,” said XFL Commissioner & CEO, Oliver Luck. “Jonathan comes with an offensive perspective that should help him thrive as we reimagine the game and engineer a style of play that’s fast and brisk. We are excited to welcome him to the XFL family.”

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to be the head coach and general manager of the XFL’s team in St. Louis,” said Hayes. “I spent most of my NFL playing career in Missouri, and also played college ball in the Midwest, so I know firsthand that you won’t find better football fans anywhere. We’re going to work hard and put together a team that’s fun and exciting to watch, and that the fans of St. Louis can rally around and support.”

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

Hayes was named the Bengals’ tight ends coach in 2003 and worked alongside head coach Marvin Lewis through the conclusion of the 2018 season. Before coaching in the NFL, he served as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at the University of Oklahoma for four seasons (1999-02) under head coach Bob Stoops. The 2000 Oklahoma team, with Stoops at the helm and Hayes on staff, went 13-0 and won the national championship.

As an NFL player, Hayes was Kansas City’s second-round draft pick in 1985 out of the University of Iowa. He spent nine seasons with the Chiefs before finishing his career with the Steelers (1994-96). Hayes played in 184 NFL games with 153 career receptions for 1718 yards and 13 TDs. He played in three AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl (SB XXX, Pittsburgh vs. Dallas).

In college, Hayes played tight end and linebacker at the University of Iowa (1981-84), where he was a team captain and earned first-team All-America honors as a senior. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in general studies from Iowa.

Hayes resides in Loveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.

XFL St. Louis Head Coach to be announced Thursday

The XFL will announce the St. Louis team head Coach/General Manager on Thursday, April 18th.

The XFL will announce the St. Louis team head Coach/General Manager on Thursday, April 18th. This will be the second Head Coach staffing announcement in two days.

  • When: Thursday April 18 at 12:00 PM CT
  • Where: The Dome at America’s Center

Of the eight XFL teams, the first five Head Coaches have been announced: 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, and Kevin Gilbride (New York) on 16 April.  It should be noted there was a long pause before Gilbride was announced.

With Thursdays announcement happening so soon, it appears the XFL may be ready to quickly announce the Head Coaches of the remaining franchises.  As of Thursday, the franchises in Los Angeles and Houston will be still without a Head Coach.

Prior to the past Head Coach announcements, there were strong rumors indicating the candidate. So far, there are no strong rumors as to who the St. Louis candidate may be.

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