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 United Football League

Inside the UFL

by Fran Stuchbury
March 28, 2024 - United Football League (UFL)


The United Football League, a creation of the merger between the XFL and United States Football League, kicks off its inaugural season this Saturday, March 30.

The UFL is divided into two conferences named after the former leagues:

The XFL Conference

  • Arlington Renegades

  • D.C. Defenders

  • San Antonio Brahmas

  • St. Louis Battlehawks

The USFL Conference

  • Birmingham Stallions

  • Houston Roughnecks

  • Memphis Showboats

  • Michigan Panthers

While the Houston Roughnecks retained the name of the XFL team, the coaching staff and the nucleus of its roster belonged to the USFL's Houston Gamblers last season.

The opening kickoff on Saturday features the defending champs from both leagues as the Birmingham Stallions take on the Arlington Renegades at 1 pm est. on FOX. Later in another interconference battle, the St. Louis Battlehawks face the Michigan Panthers at 4 pm est. also on FOX.

Sunday brings the D.C. Defenders vs. San Antonio Brahmas at 12 pm est. ESPN, followed by the Memphis Showboats vs. Houston Roughnecks at 3 pm est. on ESPN.

All 43 UFL games will be televised on ABC, Fox, ESPN, FS1 or ESPN2 and streamed on either ESPN+ or the Fox Sports app.

While the league is new, it will feature plenty of experienced talent. Here are some players to watch for each UFL team:

XFL Conference

Arlington Renegades

Offense

WR Deontay Burnett

Burnett grabbed 27 receptions for 378 yards and six touchdowns with the XFL's Houston Roughnecks last season, making the All-XFL team.H e could be the favorite target for Renegades quarterback Luis Perez in an offense that got hot during the XFL postseason, leading to the league title.

DB Ajene Harris

Harris led the XFL with five interceptions when he was a member of the Houston Roughnecks and made the All-XFL team.

D.C. Defenders

Offense

RB Cam'Ron Harris

With Abram Smith out for the season with a torn ACL. Cam'Ron Harris looks to fill the void. Last year he was cut by the Seattle Sea Dragons in February before signing with the Defenders on April 21st. He contributed five carries for 25 yards and two late rushing touchdowns in D.C.'s 37-21 win over Seattle to reach the XFL Championship Game. Harris played college football at Miami for three seasons where he gained 1,628 yards and scored 20 touchdowns.

Defense

DE Davin Bellamy

Bellamy was All-USFL in 2022 with the New Orleans Breakers and in 2023 was All-XFL with the Defenders. He had one sack in the XFL Championship Game. He looks to anchor Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams' defense.

San Antonio Brahmas

Offense

WR Jontre Kirklin

In five games with the XFL's Houston Roughnecks Kirklin made 15 receptions for 253 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a 49-yard touchdown pass from a unique double pass play.

Kirklin ended up missing the remainder of the XFL season due to a chest injury. If he can stay healthy he could be the best addition to the Brahmas offense.

Special Teams

Punter Brad Wing

Wing led the XFL at 47.9 yards per punt. With six games indoors, five home games in the Alamodome plus a road game at St. Louis, conditions will work in his favor.

St. Louis Battlehawks

Offense

WR Hakeem Butler

With Jahcour Pearson out for the start of the season due to a knee injury, All-XFL WR Butler will be the go-to target once again for A.J. McCarron. Butler finished with 51 receptions for 599 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Defense

OLB Pita Taumoepenu

Taumoepenu was dominant for the XFL's Vegas Vipers last season with 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, earning XFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.

USFL Conference

Birmingham Stallions

WR Amari Rodgers

Rodgers played college football at Clemson and was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 3rd round, 85th overall, in the 2021 NFL Draft. He also had stints with the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. He gives staring quarterback J'Mar Smith an experienced option in the Stallions offense.

LB Kyahva Tezino

Tezino made the All-USFL team last year with the Pittsburgh Maulers with 93 total tackles and two interceptions. He hopes to help a Stallions defense that won back-to-back USFL championships.

Houston Roughnecks

QB Jarrett Guarantano

Guarantano played at Tennessee from 2016-2020, then at Washington State in 2021. Over his college career he passed for 6,478 yards, 39 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He made enough of an impression in training camp for Head Coach Curtis Johnson to name him the teams starting quarterback over Reid Sinnett and Nolan Henderson.

DE Chris Odom

In 2022 Odom captured USFL Defensive Player of the Year accolades with the Houston Gamblers after leading the league with 12.5 sacks. He signed with the Cleveland Browns after that season but tore his ACL during training camp.

Memphis Showboats

Offense

QB Case Cookus

When the Philadelphia Stars became one of the USFL teams that did not make the UFL cut, Cookus was able to land the starting quarterback position with the Memphis Showboats. In his two USFL seasons with the Stars, he passed for 3,629 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Here are highlights from his 2022 season:

Defense

LB Vontae Diggs

With the New Orleans Breakers, Diggs ended the year with 66 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and three interceptions. He brings experience after playing in the Alliance of American Football and Canadian Football League as well.

Michigan Panthers

RB Matt Colburn

In 2022 Colburn helped lead the Philadelphia Stars to the USFL Championship game with 457 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, plus 18 receptions for 150 yards and another score. He played with the Stars in 2023 as well.

Defense

Frank Ginda

Ginda was named 2023 USFL Defensive Player of the Year with a 104 total tackles, three interceptions and one sack.

Here's a huge hit he delivered last season against the Pittsburgh Maulers:

EXTRA POINTS


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