College football is over. NFL is over. But football…it’s never over! The XFL returns/debuts on Saturday with a new and (hopefully) improved version of the league that went defunct after one season in 2001.
There are 8 teams across 8 major cities for the 2020 season. Many of the players may look familiar to you because of their experience in the NFL or college.
These 10 players aren’t necessarily the best players across the league, but the most recognizable and have notable backgrounds.
Connor Cook, Houston Roughnecks QB
Since the Oakland Raiders lost Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, they have played in just one playoff game – which was started by Connor Cook.
Cook was a third round pick by the Raiders in 2016 out of Michigan State. He only appeared in two games. When Derek Carr suffered an injury in week 16 of the 2016 season, backup Matt McGloin started week 17, but would leave early with an injury. Cook came in and completed 14 of 21 passes. His first career start would come one week later in Houston, against the Texans in a playoff game. It did not go well – Cook completed 18 of 45 passes, for 161 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions.
Landry Jones, Dallas Renegades QB
In Dallas, Jones reunites with his old coach Bob Stoops, with whom he played for in college at Oklahoma from 2009-2012. Over that time, Oklahoma won the Big 12 twice and went 3-1 in bowl games, including a win in the Fiesta Bowl in 2010.
Jones was a 4th round draft pick in 2013 to the Pittsburgh Steelers and between 2015-2017, started 5 games, winning 3 of them with an 8:7 TD:INT ratio.
Andre Williams, Houston Roughnecks RB
Williams, a RB from Boston College, finished 4th in Heisman Voting in 2013 after putting up video game numbers. He ended the season with 2,177 yards (5th most all-time in the NCAA) and and a 6.1 ypc average and also ran for 18 touchdowns.
He had a strong rookie season for the NY Giants in 2014, running for 721 yards and 7 touchdowns. After that, he ran for just 369 yards and 1 TD in three more seasons.
Josh Johnson, LA Wildcats QB
Johnson has a 1-7 record as a starting QB in the NFL. That one win came in 2018, when he was signed off the couch to start for the Redskins. After Alex Smith and Colt McCoy both suffered season-ending injuries, Johnson started the final three games of the season. His first start came against the Jaguars and he threw for 151 yards and a TD and ran for 49 yards, not turning the ball over at all.
Keenan Reynolds, Seattle Dragons WR
Reynolds had an amazing career at Navy. He ran for an FBS record for a QB with 4,559 yards rushing in his career and an NCAA Division I record 88 career touchdowns.
He threw just 462 passes in four years, throwing for 31 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
Cardale Jones, DC Defenders QB
Cardale Jones is famous for two reasons. One, the former Ohio State Buckeyes QB famously tweeted this…
And two, Jones’ first three starts of his career, in place of an injured JT Barrett were historic.
- 2014 Big Ten Championship Game – Ohio State would go on to beat Wisconsin 59-0
- Ohio State beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, in the first ever College Football Playoffs
- Ohio State beat Oregon to win the 2015 CFB National Championship. Jones threw for 242 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Scooby Wright, DC Defenders LB
Scooby Wright was a unanimous All-American in 2014, playing linebacker for Arizona Wildcats. He was also the PAC-12 Player of the Year and won the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the best linebacker.
He also had one of the coolest NFL Draft celebrations when he was picked by the Browns in the 7th round in the 2015 Draft.
Marquette King, St Louis Battlehawks Punter
King is a really good dancer.
King is also a good punter. He was with the Raiders from 2012-2017 and led the NFL in punting yards in 2014. He was Second team All-Pro in 2016.
Shawn Oakman, LA Wildcats DL
Oakman was a disruptive force at Baylor in 2013 and 2014. His 11 sacks in 2013 earned him Third-team All-American honors.
Matt Elam, DC Defenders S
Elam was the Baltimore Ravens’ first round pick (#32) in 2013. Injuries and off the field issues led to his eventual release in 2017. In three seasons, he had just 1 interception, 89 total tackles, 7 pass deflected, 1 forced fumble
5 other notable names
Kony Ealy, Houston Roughnecks DL – former second round pick of the Carolina Panthers
Christine Michael, Seattle Battlehawks RB – spent time 4 years with the Seahawks and some time with the Packers, Cowboys, Colts
Will Sutton, Seattle Dragons DT – former third round pick to the Chicago Bears in 2014; consensus All-American at Arizona State in 2012, First team All-American in 2013, and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013
Aaron Murray, Tampa Bay Vipers QB – four year starter at Georgia who threw 121 touchdowns and 41 interceptions. He is still the all-time SEC career passing yards leader (13, 166 yards).
Cameron Artis-Payne, Dallas Renegades RB – backup running back for the Carolina Panthers for 4 years, running for a total of 491 yards and 5 touchdowns.