United Football League 2024 rosters: Ranking the eight teams’ talent

The United Football League’s initial rosters for its 2024 season were announced Monday.

Following the merger of the USFL and XFL, each of the eight UFL teams selected players from its respective conference’s player pool in a dispersal draft. The full list can be viewed here.

Heading into training camp next month, some teams already have come away with players who have made their mark on spring football over the last two years and enjoyed memorable careers at the collegiate level.

The USFL and XFL have had a combined 150 alumni receive NFL contracts over the past two seasons. Two USFL alums, KaVontae Turpin and Brandon Aubrey, earned NFL Pro Bowl selections as members of the Dallas Cowboys.

Players who perform at a high level can return to the NFL or, in the case of Aubrey, get a first chance. USFL and XFL postseason award winners become high-demand players at the NFL and CFL level.

So here you’ll find no Jordan Ta’amu. No Alex McGough. No Frank Ginda. No McCleod Bethel-Thompson.

Here’s how things shook out for each squad, with noteworthy selections highlighted.

  • Italics: Denotes 2022 All-USFL selection
  • Bold: Denotes 2023 All-USFL or All-XFL selection
  • +: Denotes two-time selection across both leagues

[Daryl Johnston embracing new challenge as head of UFL football operations]

1. Birmingham Stallions

Skip Holtz’s two-time USFL champions return not just their head coach but key members on both the 2022 and 2023 title teams. Among them are wideout Victor Bolden, quarterback J’Mar Smith and tight end Jace Sternberger.

However, the Stallions left the first dispersal draft without the 2023 USFL MVP, quarterback Alex McGough, and the league’s best kicker, Brandon Aubrey.

Still, no team has been as dominant as the Stallions over the last two years, winning 21 of 24 games and going undefeated in the USFL playoffs. 

Former Kansas State QB Adrian Martinez projects as the Day 1 starter. In 2022, he helped lead the Wildcats to a Big 12 title while passing for more than 2,800 yards and rushing for more than 500, with 27 total TDs.

The addition of former Philadelphia Star Channing Stribling makes the secondary formidable. Stribling recorded seven INTs in 2022 and eight over the past two years.

Number of All-USFL players selected: 6 

Noteworthy players:

Adrian Martinez, QB, Kansas State

Chris Orr, ILB, Wisconsin

Kyahva Tezino, ILB, San Diego State

Scooby Wright, ILB, Arizona

J’Mar Smith, QB, Louisiana Tech

Willie Yarbary, DL, Wake Forest

Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M

Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan

Calvin Ashley, OT, Auburn

Victor Bolden, WR, Oregon State

JoJo Tillery, S, Wofford

Deon Cain, WR, Clemson

Carlo Kemp, DE, Michigan

Marcus Baugh, TE, Ohio State

CJ Marable, RB, Coastal Carolina

Binjimen Victor, WR, Ohio State

Marlon Williams, WR, Central Florida

2. Arlington Renegades

Despite going just 4-6 last season, Bob Stoops’ Renegades rode into the XFL playoffs and proceeded to win the XFL Championship. The return of quarterback Luis Perez, who finished with the fourth-most passing yards in the XFL with 1,636, already gives Stoops’ squad continuity other teams will lack at the most important position on the field.

Perez is the only quarterback to feature in the playoffs of both leagues and one of just two returning starters — along with Stallions QB J’Mar Smith — to a championship team at the position.

Former All-USFL LB Donald Payne returns to the Renegades and remains the only player in either league to record a 100-tackle (117) season as a Houston Gambler in 2022. Ajene Harris, the leader across both leagues in INTs last year with five, also returns to Arlington.

Number of All-XFL and All-USFL players selected: 3

Noteworthy players:

Luis Perez, QB, Texas A&M Commerce

Deontay Burnett, WR, USC

Davontae Lambert, DT, Auburn

Lindsey Scott, QB, Incarnate Word

Colin Schooler, LB, Texas Tech

Holton Ahlers, QB, East Carolina

Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson

Cam Brown, DB, Ohio State

Jake Lacina, OL, Augustana

Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma

Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma

Marquette King, P, Fort Valley State

Donald Payne, LB, Stetson

Jalen Redmond, DE, Oklahoma

Dru Samia, OL, Oklahoma

Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State

De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan

LaRon Stokes, DE, Oklahoma

Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC

3. D.C. Defenders

D.C. finished 9-1 in the 2023 regular season and is undefeated (9-0) at Audi Field dating back to 2020. Opponents might fear the beer snake, but Defenders fans might fear heading into 2024 without XFL Offensive Player of the Year Jordan Ta’amu behind center.

After the first dispersal draft, Ta’amu isn’t listed on any UFL roster. Spring football is all about transactions, though, with the CFL signing free agents all while players are figuring out their 2024 futures with the 2023 NFL regular season coming to an end.

But 2023 XFL Coach of the Year Reggie Barlow has two and a half months to identify his starter at QB while riding the XFL’s leader in rushing, Abram Smith, who ran for 791 yards and seven TDs in 10 games.

In his last season at Baylor, Smith rushed for a school-record 1,601 yards.

Number of All-XFL players selected: 5

Noteworthy players:

Liam Fornadel, OG, James Madison 

+Davin Bellamy, DE, Georgia

Michael Joseph, DB, Dubuque

Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma

Reggie Northrup, LB, Florida State

Abram Smith, RB, Baylor

Trent Harris, LB, Miami

4. Houston Roughnecks

Curtis Johnson’s Gamblers missed the playoffs, going 5-5, but looked impressive down the stretch in a strong South Division.

Though the Gamblers rebranded as the Roughnecks, the XFL franchise, the 2024 Roughnecks used the 2023 Gamblers roster to select protected players and were allowed to select additional players in the dispersal draft from the USFL’s pool of players and not the XFL’s pool of players.

And they still managed to pull out nearly twice as many All-USFL or All-XFL players as the next closest franchise with nine. One more reason the Roughnecks rate highly is because they are returning a starter at quarterback, Kenji Bahar, who became a better player as the season progressed and featured one of the league’s most talented receiving corps, led by returning pass catcher Justin Hall.

Hall caught 47 passes for 515 yards with four TDs.

Despite this, the Roughnecks return the 2023 USFL Offensive Player of the Year in running back Mark Thompson, two-time All-USFL defensive tackle Toby Johnson and the 2022 USFL Defensive Player of the Year in Chris Odom. 

Number of All-USFL players selected: 9

Noteworthy players:

Mark Thompson, RB, Florida

Adam Rodriguez, DE, Weber State

Gabriel Sewell, LB, Nevada

Reuben Foster, OLB, Alabama

Isaiah Pryor, LB, Notre Dame

Chris Odom, DT, Arkansas State

Reggie Howard, DT, Toledo

Jeffrey Johnson, DT, Oklahoma

+Toby Johnson, DT, Georgia

Isiah Hennie, WR, Sacramento State

Justin Hall, WR, Ball State

Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR, North Carolina

Isaiah Zuber, WR, Kansas State

Jarrett Guarantano, QB, Washington State

Kenji Bahar, QB, Monmouth

T.J. Pledger, RB, Oklahoma

Paul Adams, OT, Missouri

Isaiah Battle, OT, Clemson

Woody Brandom, TE, South Alabama

Braedon Bowman, TE, Sam Houston

Manny Bunch, S, Tulsa

Olive Sagapolu, DT, Wisconsin

5. Memphis Showboats

Now under the leadership of former New Orleans Breakers coach John DeFilippo, the Showboats returned Special Teams Player of the Year Derrick Dillon, who also owns the record for the longest kickoff return for a TD in pro football history, and also added one of the USFL’s better quarterbacks in Case Cookus.

New additions to the Showboats roster include two-time All-American and two-time national champion linebacker Dylan Moses, as well as three-time 1,000-yard rusher and former Oklahoma standout Kennedy Brooks.

Number of All-USFL players selected: 5

Noteworthy players:

Case Cookus, QB, Northern Arizona

Derrick Dillon, WR, LSU

Darius Victor, RB, Towson

Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Troy Warner, S, BYU

Dillon Faamatau, DT, Oklahoma

+Jarron Jones, OT, Notre Dame

Cole Kelley, QB, Southeastern Louisiana

Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford

DJ Daniel, CB, Georgia

Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M

Jay Adams, WR, Arkansas State

Diondre Overton, WR, Clemson

Greg Reaves, LB, South Florida

Vinny Papale, WR, Delaware

Sage Surratt, TE, Wake Forest

Jordan Brailford, DE, Oklahoma State

Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma

Vontae Diggs, OLB, UConn

6. St. Louis Battlehawks

Anthony Becht led the highest-drawing team in the XFL to a 7-3 record but missed the XFL playoffs after losing a tiebreaker to the defunct Seattle Dragons. It’s no surprise the Battlehawks are wildly popular in St. Louis, a city that has been home to pro football for more than 100 years dating back to the formation of the St. Louis All-Stars. 

Former Battlehawks QB A.J. McCarron threw for 2,150 yards and 24 TDs last season and saw his efforts rewarded with a spot on the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2023 roster. He leaves a hole to fill.

The Battlehawks also exited the first dispersal draft without 2023 XFL Special Teams Player of the Year Darrius Shepherd. But the addition of XFL Defensive Player of the Year Pita Taumoepenu will make them better.

Taumopenu recorded 8.5 tackles for loss, including 7.5 sacks, in 10 games last season. Wideout Hakeem Butler will no doubt be one of his quarterback’s top targets after recording 51 catches for 599 yards with eight TDs last season. He’s joined by Jachour Pearson, who led both leagues in catches (60) and receiving yards (670).

Number of All-XFL players selected: 5

Noteworthy players:

Pita Taumoepenu, LB, Utah

Manny Wilkins, QB, Arizona State

Max Borghi, RB, Washington State

Vadal Alexander, OG, LSU

Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

Jahcour Pearson, WR, Ole Miss

Mike Rose, LB, Iowa State

Mykael Wright, DB, Oregon

Steven Gonzalez, OG, Penn State

Mike Panasiuk, C, Michigan State 

7. Michigan Panthers

Along with Panthers coach Mike Nolan, Michigan will look to defensive end Breeland Speaks and former Biletnikoff Award winner Corey Coleman, All-USFL tailback Reggie Corbin and All-USFL safety Shalom Luani to act as leaders on their respective sides of the ball after a 4-6 season in 2023.

While the Panthers do not return 2023 USFL Defensive Player of the Year Frank Ginda, the addition of former Oklahoma linebacker DaShaun White and All-USFL linebacker Jerod Fernandez gives them ample opportunity to maintain that position of strength.

Number of All-USFL players selected: 5

Noteworthy players:

Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss

Matt Colburn, RB, Wake Forest

Jordan Suell, WR, South Oregon

DaShaun White, LB, Oklahoma

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Reggie Corbin, RB, Illinois

Jerod Fernandez, ILB, North Carolina State

Danny Etling, QB, LSU

Devin Gray, WR, Cincinnati

Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State

Shalom Luani, S, Washington State

8. San Antonio Brahmas

Wade Phillips’ Brahmas managed to win just three of their 10 games in 2023. But the 2024 roster already looks like one that can compete for a playoff spot.

The Brahmas already have a strong core with former Wisconsin and Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan, Kansas State wideout Kade Warner and Ohio State defensive tackle Taron Vincent forming the backbone of their 2024 team. 

Coan passed for 3,150 yards with 25 TDs and eight INTs in 2021 on a Notre Dame team that finished 11-2. 

Number of All-XFL players selected: 4

Noteworthy players:

Bubba Bolden, S, Miami

Robert Barnes, LB, Colorado

Jack Coan, QB, Notre Dame

JuanCarlos Santana, WR, Tulsa

Stevie Scott, RB, Indiana

T.J. Vasher, WR, Texas Tech

Taron Vincent, DT, Ohio State

Kade Warner, WR, Kansas State

Cody Latimer, IU, Indiana

Alex Mollette, C, Marshall

Drew Beesley, DE, Michigan State

Jordan Williams, LB, Baylor

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

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