The XFL will begin its second life on Feb. 8, 2020. After running for a single season in 2001, Vince McMahon has decided to bring back the league in an effort to compete with the NFL.
The league will consist of eight teams and features well-known coaches such as Bob Stoops and Pep Hamilton. Whether the league will succeed or not is still a question, but fans are excited to see what the league will do to find the success they lacked in 2001.
Recently, the league announced a new set of rules. Among them are changes to extra points, the play clock, and a continuous running clock.
Now, every team in the XFL has released its full 52-man roster ahead of the 2020 season. While there won’t be as much star power as the NFL, there are still plenty of players that should get fans excited.
As fans look forward to the renewed XFL season, these are the players they should be looking out for.
QB Landry Jones
Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones was actually the first player to sign a contract with the XFL. In five seasons with the Steelers, Jones completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 1,310 yards and an eight-to-seven touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also held a 3-2 record as a starter.
Jones is arguably the best quarterback in the XFL and one of the most recognizable. He is also back with Bob Stoops, who was Jones’s head coach when he was with Oklahoma. In college, Jones completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 16,646 yards and a 123/52 ratio.
With lackluster receiving options to work with, Jones will have to shine for the Renegades to succeed. As one of the better quarterbacks in the league, he will have an opportunity to live up to his newfound hype.
Jones did suffer a knee injury and is questionable for Week 1. However, when he returns, he should be one of the more fun players to watch in the entire league.
Others to Watch: WR Jazz Ferguson, RB Lance Dunbar, RB Cameron Artis-Payne
WR Rashad Ross
The Defenders have Cardale Jones on their roster, who has more name value. However, when it comes to stats, Jones has just 11 NFL passes to his name. Sure, he was electric in college, but there is another player on the Defenders’ roster who should excite fans.
Wide receiver Rashad Ross, who is just 29 years old, was far and away the best wideout in the short-lived Alliance of American Football. In the eight weeks the league survived, Ross caught 36 passes for 583 yards and seven touchdowns. His seven touchdowns led the entire league.
Ross could arguably be the best receiver in the XFL. The Defenders have one of the most dynamic playmakers in the entire league in Ross.
Ross had a short-lived run with the Carolina Panthers. He should now have an opportunity to prove how talented he truly is; hopefully for more than eight games.
Others to Watch: Jones, RB Donnel Pumphrey, WR Eli Rogers, S Matt Elam
DE Kony Ealy
Houston has former Oakland Raider Connor Cook at quarterback. However, he has just one game of regular-season experience and one appearance in the playoffs. His playoff start saw the Raiders lose the game as Cook completed just 40 percent of his passes for 161 yards, a score, and three picks. Cook has NFL experience but is far from a sure thing.
Instead, the Roughnecks’ most exciting player is defensive end, Kony Ealy. Ealy spent four years in the NFL, splitting time between the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. Ealy appeared in 65 games and started 19, racking up 92 tackles and 15 sacks. He also forced six fumbles.
Ealy’s play fell off after racking up five sacks during both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. However, he has proven in the past that he has the ability to get to the quarterback. Those pass-rushing skills should translate to the XFL.
The Roughnecks are lacking any exciting skill position players, but Ealy should make a name for himself as Houston’s best defender.
Others to Watch: Cook, RB De’Angelo Henderson, WR Sammie Coates
Los Angeles Wildcats
DE Shawn Oakman
Like the Roughnecks, Los Angeles has a veteran quarterback in Josh Johnson. He might be one of the more recognizable signal-callers in the league as he started three games with the Washington Redskins in 2018. However, Johnson has just a 1-7 career record and an eight-to-14 ratio. Getting up there in age, fans shouldn’t be too excited.
However, former Baylor Bear Shawn Oakman should excite fans. He tore up the college football world, racking up 46.5 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks in three years. At one point, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke had Oakman going first overall in a 2016 NFL mock draft.
However, he was accused of sexual assault and never got his opportunity in the NFL. After the allegation, no team wanted to sign him. However, in Februrary of 2019, Oakman was found non-guilty on all charges. The former Baylor Bear should now have an opportunity to prove himself on the gridiron.
After bouncing around various leagues, including the “Champions Indoor League,” Oakman should have an opportunity to prove himself with the XFL. If plays how he did at Baylor, fans should be excited.
Others to Watch: Johnson, K Nick Novak, WR Nelson Spruce
New York Guardians
CB Jamar Summers
On paper, the Guardians might have the worst team in the XFL. Quarterback Matt McGloin has NFL experience, although he holds just a 1-6 record. Backup Luis Perez is intriguing, but he didn’t really light it up during his time in the AAF.
Instead, the Guardians’ most exciting player might be cornerback Jamar Summers. Summers spent eight games in the AAF and picked off three passes while defending another 10 passes and forcing a fumble.
Summers is just 24 years old and could make a name for himself in the XFL. On a team devout of offensive talent, the former UConn defensive back stands out on defense.
Others to Watch: McGloin, Perez, WR Mekale McKay
St. Louis Battlehawks
RB Christine Michael
Some might argue that punter Marquette King might be the most exciting player on the Battlehawks. However, when it comes to statistical output, that award goes to running back Christine Michael.
Michael was a fan favorite during his time in the NFL. He always seemed like he could have a breakout moment. Overall, he appeared in 38 games and rushed 256 times for 1,056 yards and seven touchdowns. All seven came during the 2016 season.
Michael spent most of his time with Seattle and is a recognizable name for most football fans. While he isn’t quite exciting as any current starting NFL running back, his hype meter is back up with the Battlehawks.
The former Seahawk never got a chance to truly make a name for himself in the NFL. With the XFL, he’ll have that chance.
Others to Watch: King, RB Matt Jones, QB Taylor Heinicke
WR Keenan Reynolds
The Dragons have two quarterbacks in B.J. Daniels and Brandon Silvers who impressed in college but never really succeeded afterward. Again two running backs in Kenneth Farrow and Trey Williams saw time on NFL rosters, but never really made an impact. Their kicker might be their most successful NFL talent, as Garrett Hartley was with the Saints when they won the Super Bowl in 2009.
Instead, when it comes to the most exciting player on the Dragons, that distinction should go to one of the most decorated college quarterbacks of all time. Keenan Reynolds spent four years at Navy and rushed for 4,559 yards and 88 touchdowns. He holds the NCAA Division I record in career touchdowns and the FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
While the Ravens took him in the sixth round in 2016, they couldn’t find a way to use him. This was before Taysom Hill was a thing.
Now listed at wide receiver, Reynolds should be given every opportunity to make plays for the Dragons. If he can shine like he did in college fans and the rest of the XFL should be prepared.
Others to Watch: Daniels, Silvers, Farrow, Williams, Hartley
Tampa Bay Vipers
WR Antonio Callaway
Perhaps no player in the XFL is as exciting as wide receiver Antonio Callaway. He was in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns last season, but struggled with off-field issues, leading to him being cut. Those issues date back to his college days at Florida.
Off-field problems aside, Callaway is an incredibly talented wide receiver. While he struggled with drops in the pros, he managed to catch 51 passes for 675 yards and five touchdowns. In college, he caught 89 passes for 1,399 yards and seven scores in two years.
Despite his struggles at Florida, the Browns still took Callaway in the fourth round after NFL.com’s Gil Brandt ranked him as the 142nd-best player in the draft.
Callaway will need to stay out of trouble, but perhaps no wide receiver or skill position player holds his kind of potential.
Others to Watch: QB Aaron Murray, RB Mack Brown, WR Seantavious Jones