Sunday, May 26, 2024

USFL players have plenty of NFL experience: Who are some potentially recognizable names?

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The United States Football League officially kicks off in about two days and players are ready to go.

The first season will begin when the New Jersey Generals face the Birmingham Stallions Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on FOX and NBC. The six other teams in the league — the Houston Gamblers, Michigan Panthers, New Orleans Breakers, Philadelphia Stars, Pittsburgh Maulers and Tampa Bay Bandits — are all in action Sunday. Games can be seen on NBC, USA Network and FS1.

FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt will be among the cast of broadcasters for the USFL games. He previewed the crop of talent set to take the field on “Fox & Friends” with co-host Brian Kilmeade.


Philadelphia Stars and Michigan Panthers square off in a scrimmage.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

“It’s actually really high,” Klatt said of the talent level coming into the league. “I think what people will understand when they see these players play is that COVID really messed up the transition from college to the NFL. There’s a bunch of players out there that didn’t get an opportunity in the National Football League that are good enough to get an opportunity in the National Football League, and those are the players we’re going to be showcasing.

“It’s even more than that. The quality of football is certainly going to be great, but the technology we’re going to be bringing football fans is off the charts. The audio we’re gonna have, all the communication that’s between the coach and the player, we’re gonna be able to interview the coaches through their headset. We’re gonna have a drone flying over the field. You’re going to be able to watch this sport that we all love in a totally different way. We’re gonna take you closer to the game than we’ve ever taken you before.”

Read below for a list of players you may recognize taking the field this season.

Birmingham Stallions
Alex McGough is playing quarterback for the Birmingham Stallions.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Alex McGough, QB: McGough was seventh-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks. He bounced around practice squads in the NFL before getting to the USFL.

Tony Brooks-James, RB: Brooks-James played four games in the NFL between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons. He had 11 total rushing yards in four games.

Victor Bolden Jr, WR: Bolden played for two teams in the NFL – the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.

Brian Allen, CB: Allen played cornerback in the NFL from 2017 to 2021. He appeared in 20 games and had six total tackles. He played for the 49ers, Steelers and Cleveland Browns.

Josh Shaw, CB: Shaw was a standout at USC before being a fourth-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well. He was with the Arizona Cardinals when he was suspended for gambling on NFL games in 2020. He was reinstated in 2021.

Jonathan Newsome, LB: Newsome was a fifth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. He played 30 games for the Colts and had 7.5 sacks and 47 total tackles.

Nate Holley, S: Holley played three games for the Miami Dolphins in 2020 and had three total tackles.

Scooby Wright III, LB: Wright was a seventh-round pick of the Browns in 2016. He made his debut with the Cardinals later that year. He played 13 games for Arizona and had seven tackles.

Tae Hayes, CB: Hayes played six games in the NFL with the Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings in 2019 and 2020. He had 10 tackles in that span.


Houston Gamblers
Clayton Thornson of the Houston Gamblers.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Clayton Thorson, QB: Thorson was a fifth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. He bounced around practice squads in the NFC East before coming to the USFL.

Isaiah Zuber, WR: Zuber made four appearances for the New England Patriots in 2020. He had two catches for 29 yards in four games.

Ahmad Gooden, DE: Gooden appeared in three games for the Denver Broncos in 2019. 

Chris Odom, DE: Odom played for Washington and the Green Bay Packers from 2017 to 2019. He appeared in 11 games and had 16 tackles and two sacks.

Donald Payne, LB: Payne played for the Jaguars from 2017 to 2019 and even started five of the 30 games he appeared in. He had 76 combined tackles and a sack.


Michigan Panthers
Michigan Panthers players appear to celebrate.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Jeff Badet, WR: Badet appeared in three games for Washington in 2020. He was on a few practice squads after that.

Lance Lenoir, WR: Lenoir had a stint with the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 and 2018. He played eight games but appeared mostly on special teams.

Marcus Baugh, TE: Bought played eight games for Washington in 2020. He had one catch for two yards.

Paxton Lynch, QB: Lynch was a former first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2016. He only appeared in five games in the NFL. He had 792 passing yards and four touchdown passes.

Shea Patterson, QB: Patterson played his last two years of his collegiate career with Michigan. He had 5,661 passing yards and 45 touchdown passes in 26 games with the Wolverines.

Jameson Houston, DB: Houston played defensive back for the Eagles in 2020, appearing in three games.

Taiwan Jones, LB: Jones played three games for the New York Jets in 2016. He had two tackles and a tackle for a loss in those years.

New Jersey Generals
Luis Perez is with the New Jersey Generals now. He played for the New York Guardians of the XFL.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Braedon Bowman, TE: Bowman appeared in three games for the Jets in 2016. He mostly played on special teams.

Darrius Shepherd, WR: Shepherd spent two seasons with the Green Bay Packers in 2019 and 2020. He was mostly a kick returner for the team.

Garrett McGhin, T: McGhin is an offensive lineman out of East Carolina. He played two games for the Carolina Panthers in 2019.

J’Mon Moore, WR: Moore also played for the Packers for a short time. He had a 12-game run in 2018, mostly returning kicks.

Luis Perez, QB: Perez played in the XFL for the New York Guardians in 2020 before the league shut down because of the coronavirus. He will likely be the starting quarterback.

Trey Williams, RB: Williams played two games as a running back for the Colts in 2015. He had 12 rushing yards on two carries.

Chris Orr, LB: Orr was signed as a linebacker in 2020 for the Panthers. He played in three games but played 60% of his snaps on special teams.

D’Juan Hines, LB: Hines played 13 games for the Browns and had 4 tackles in 2018.

David Rivers III, CB: Rivers was a cornerback for the Buccaneers in 2018 and 2018. He was mostly on the special teams unit.

De’Vante Bausby, CB: Bausby broke into the NFL in 2016. He played for the Eagles, Cardinals, Broncos and the Chicago Bears between 2016 and 2020. He played in 26 games and had 60 total tackles.

Destiny Vaeao, DT: Vaeao played in the NFL from 2016 to 2018. He appeared in 33 games and had three sacks. He picked up a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles during the team’s win in 2017.

Shalom Luani, S: Luani was a seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2017. He played one season for them and another season each for the Seahawks and Los Angeles Chargers. He has 31 NFL games under his belt and 28 tackles.

Toby Johnson, DT: Johnson made two appearances for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. He had two tackles.

Trae Elston, DB: Elston was on the Eagles during their Super Bowl-winning season as well even though he played one game for them. He played 13 other games for the Buffalo Bills. He also played for the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL in 2020.

Nick Rose, K: Rose has made some appearances in NFL games. He was with Washington for eight games in 2017 and the Chargers for two games. He was 11-for-14 on field-goal attempts.


New Orleans Breakers
New Orleans Breakers players on the sideline during a scrimmage.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Chad Williams, WR: Williams was in the NFL for three seasons. He was with the Cardinals and Colts for a total of 17 games between 2017 and 2019. He had 20 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown.

E.J. Bibbs, TE: Bibbs played in seven games for the Browns in 2015. He had one catch for seven yards.

T.J. Logan, RB: Logan played running back for the Cardinals and Buccaneers in 2018 and 2019. He returned punts and kicks in that time.

Taywan Taylor, WR: Taylor played for the Browns and the Tennessee Titans from 2017 to 2020. He had 53 catches for 697 yards and two touchdowns.

Zach Smith, QB: Smith was a standout quarterback at Tulsa but wasn’t selected in last year’s NFL Draft.

Adonis Alexander, CB: Alexander was a cornerback for Washington in 2018. He appeared in nine games and had four tackles.

Pittsburgh Maulers
Kyle Lauletta of the Pittsburgh Maulers tossed the ball.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Kyle Lauletta, QB: Lauletta was a fourth-round pick of the New York Giants in 2018. He appeared in two games but never made a completion in five attempts.

Vadal Alexander, G: The offensive lineman played for the Raiders in 2016 and 2017. He played in 24 games.

Blair Brown, LB: Brown was a linebacker and played in 28 games for the Jaguars in 2017 and 2018. He had 17 tackles and a half sack in that span.

Ethan Westbrooks, DT: Westbrooks had a nice run in the NFL. He played for the Rams from 2014 to 2018 and then caught on with the New Orleans Saints in 2021. He had nine sacks in 68 games.

Terrell Bonds, CB: Bonds played in four games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2020. He had six tackles.

Philadelphia Stars
Bryan Scott of the Philadelphia Stars throws a pass.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Chris Rowland, WR: Rowland was with the Falcons in 2020. He appeared in two games and returned kicks.

Bryan Scott, QB: Scott was a standout QB at Occidental College. He was in The Spring League and the Canadian Football League before getting to the USFL. He was the MVP of The Spring League Championship in 2020.

Case Cookus, QB: Cookus was with The Spring League in 2021 and with the Edmonton Elks in the Canadian Football League too. He was a standout at Northern Arizona before going pro.

Ahmad Dixon, S: Dixon played in the NFL in 2014. He was with the Bears, Dolphin and Vikings. He appeared in 11 games and had three tackles.

Carroll Phillips, DE: Phillips played three seasons in the NFL from 2017 and 2019. He played in 11 games and had five tackles.

Freedom Akinmoladun, DE: Akinmoladun played three seasons in the NFL from 2019 to 2021. He was with the Bengals and Jets during that span appearing in five games and racking up four tackles.

Mazzi Wilkins, DB: Wilkins was also credited as a Super Bowl champion during his stint with the Buccaneers in 2020. He played in seven NFL games between the Buccaneers and the Ravens from 2019 to 2021. He had three total tackles.


Tampa Bay Bandits
A view of the Tampa Bay Bandits’ helmet.
(Ryan Gonzalez/USFL)

Brady White, QB: White was a standout quarterback at Memphis but failed to latch onto an NFL team in 2021.

Derrick Willies, WR: Willies was with the Browns in 2018 and 2020. He appeared in six games and had three catches for 61 yards.

Eli Rogers, WR: Rogers is bringing immense NFL experience to the Bandits. He had 78 catches for 822 yards and four touchdowns from 2016 to 2018 with the Steelers.

Jordan Ta’amu, QB: Ta’amu was a standout quarterback in the XFL before the league folded. He tried to latch on in the NFL but never made an appearance in a regular-season game.

Keith Mumphrey, WR: Mumphrey was with the Houston Texans in 2015 and 2016. He returned punts and kickoffs.

Vinny Papale, WR: Papale is the son of Vince Papale, whose inspirational story about making the Eagles was adapted into a movie in 2006 called “Invincible.”

Delrick Abrams, CB: Abrams was with the Falcons for three games in 2020.

John Atkins, DT: Atkins was a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions in 2018 and 2019. He played in 14 games and had 22 tackles.

Obi Melifonwu, S: Melifonwu is credited as being a Super Bowl champion with the Patriots during the 2018 season. He played seven games in his NFL career and had 10 tackles.

Quenton Meeks, CB: Meeks appeared in 14 games in the NFL. He was with the Jaguars and Chargers in 2018 and 2020.

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