The XFL is football reimagined. New game innovations and new teams have created quite a stir among football fans everywhere. For fans, the XFL is a chance to extend the joy of football season for three more months. For players, the XFL is a new chance to keep their dreams of playing professional football alive. Many of the players on the XFL teams are players that slipped through the cracks of NFL combines and other professional leagues. With the release of the 52-man rosters on January 27, the stage is set for these athletes to shine once again. Which of the lesser known players will be making a big splash during the inaugural season? Take a look at one potential X-factor for each team.
DC Defenders- Rashad “Rocket” Ross, Wide Receiver
Rashad Ross played collegiately at Arizona State. During the draft combine of 2013, Ross posted a 4.42 40-yard dash time. Ross spent time in the NFL with The Redskins, Bears and was most recently in training camp with the Carolina Panthers. The most successful season statistically for Ross was not in the NFL. In the spring of 2019 Ross was a WR for the Alliance of American Football’s Arizona Hotshots. Ross recorded 36 receptions for 583 yards and 7 touchdowns. He averaged over 16 yards per catch. It will be exciting to see how well the 6-foot, 180 pound wide receiver pairs with Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones. Expect to see a lot of big plays this season from the DC Defenders and Rocket Ross.
Dallas Renegades- Jeff Badet, WR
Jeff Badet, a 5 foot 11 speedster from the University of Oklahoma is looking to make a huge impact for the Dallas Renegades this year. Badet comes into the league with a huge advantage having his former university head coach Bob Stoops as his head coach for the Renegades. Look for Stoops to feature Badet in all of his offense of schemes, as the explosive wide receiver looks to dominate the XFL west for the Renegades
Tampa Bay Vipers- Nick Truesdell, TE
Nick Truesdell, a 6 foot-5 tight end from Grand Rapids junior college, spent some time in 2019 with the Alliance of American Football’s Salt Lake City Stallions. Truesdell caught 24 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns with the stallions. Look for Truesdell to be a huge factor in Red zone situations for the Tampa Bay Vipers due to the fact that conversions will be a huge influence on the game. with the option of going for a 12 or three point conversions after a touchdown Tight Ends will play a huge role in the offensive production for XFL teams.
Los Angeles Wildcats- Shawn Oakman, DE
Shawn Oakman, the monster defensive end and most famously known for the meme generated by him on social media was a stand out performer at Baylor. Oakman was with the Wildcats at the beginning of training camp, was released, and was recently added back to the team just before the 52 man roster came out. Expect Oakman to impact his team by giving a dominant pass rush, disrupting the offenses around the league by using his 6-foot-9, 280 pound frame. Oakman never had the chance to make an impact in the NFL, as a legal matter was unresolved prior to the 2016 draft, prompting NFL teams to pass on him.
St. Louis Battlehawks- Matt Jones, RB
Matt Jones is a 6-foot-2, 240 pound running back from the University of Florida, spent time with the Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones leads a very talented backfield in St. Louis. Having been out of football since 2018, Jones is eager to get back into action and make a statement in St. Louis.
New York Guardians- MeKale McKay, WR
Wide receiver MeKale McKay is a 6 foot 5 wide receiver out of Connecticut and is looking to make a huge impact for the New York Guardians the season. McKay most recently spent time with the AAF San Antonio commanders where he was a deep play threat and the team’s leading receiver. Because of his huge stature, MeKale McKay will be a big target in the red zone this season. Also, look for him to make an impact in the conversion side of the game.
Seattle Dragons- Ja’Quan Gardner, RB
Ja’Quan Gardner, a 5-foot-7, 205 pound running back from Humboldt State is looking to make an impact on the Seattle dragons this season. THe strong, powerful back was the leading rusher for the Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet. Check out this video clip to see his burst of speed as he heads towards the end zone. Gardener will be a nice change of pace back for the Seattle dragons in what is beginning to look like a three headed monster in the running game. Kenneth Farrow (San Antonio Commanders) and Trey Williams (San Antonio Commanders) join Gardner in what is currently an all former-AAF backfield.
The XFL officially kicks off Saturday, February 8, at 2pm on ABC.