Pittsburgh Maulers Re-Sign Safety Eli Walker For 2024 | Birmingham Stallions

Analyzing The Birmingham Stallions Protected Players & UFL Draft Picks

Skip Holtz and the Birmingham Stallions are back and looking to three-peat (albeit in a new league: the UFL). After winning their second championship, the Stallions lost a significant number of players to the NFL. But Zach Potter did what he does and reloaded their roster in what turned out to be a great offseason for the team.

Unfortunately for the Stallions, the roster that was assembled this offseason had to be trimmed down from 67 players to 42 last week. Yet, despite having to let 25 players go, they were able to immediately add some quality talent in the USFL Dispersal Draft via teams that are folding.

Let’s take a look at the Stallions dispersal draft picks before making note of who they protected and who they let go. It’s worth noting that while the Stallions could have added up to 20 players from the Maulers, Stars, Generals, and Breakers, they chose to only add 11. Every other former USFL team added 20.

TE Marcus Baugh | New Orleans Breakers

The Stallions carried three tight ends last year: All-USFL Jace Sternberger, Thaddeus Moss, and La’Michael Pettway. Pettway recently returned to the NFL, and Moss wanted out of Birmingham. So the Stallions were in need of another tight end to play alongside Sternberger.

They found their man in Marcus Baugh. The former Ohio State Buckeye has spent the past two years in the USFL with the Michigan Panthers. Over the offseason, he signed a new contract with the New Orleans Breakers, meaning he ended up in the dispersal draft.

In two seasons with the Panthers, Baugh (6’4, 245) had 30 catches for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. Given his size and catching ability, Baugh should provide the Stallions with a great second tight end heading into camp.

OL Calvin Ashley & Cam Carter | New Jersey Generals

Skip Holtz recently announced that former Generals Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and Offensive Line Coach Steve Smith would be joining the Stallions in 2024 as their o-line coach. Unsurprisingly then, the Stallions added two of the Generals best o-linemen from 2023.

Calvin Ashley is no stranger to the state of Alabama as he started his college career at Auburn. The five-star recruit did not finish at Auburn but still went on to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after college. Ashley decided to retire from football for mental health reasons during his rookie year, but he later returned to football as part of the inaugural USFL draft class in 2022. Over the past two season, Ashley developed into one of the best offensive linemen in the USFL, earning All-USFL honors in 2023. Nabbing Ashley is a huge pickup for the Stallions, and he will likely immediately compete for a starting spot on the Stallions line.

The Stallions also added tackle Cam Carter from the Generals. Like Ashley, Carter has connections to the state of Alabama, having been born in Birmingham. Carter graduated from Minor High School before playing at Murray State. 2023 was his first season in the USFL, but he impressed Coach Smith enough to earn the starting left tackle job. Now, he follows Coach Smith to his hometown team.

DE Hercules Mata’afa | New Jersey Generals

Coach Smith must have not liked trying to block Generals defensive end Hercules Mata’afa each week in practice because the Stallions also made sure to add him to the roster. The former Viking was dominant in 2023, registering 24 tackles and six sacks. He also earned a 90.4 PFF grade, best among defensive ends and fourth-best overall.

According to PFF, Mata’afa also had the highest pressure rate among EDGE players (17.5%) to go along with the second-best pass-rush win rate and the fourth-most run stops. Mata’afa joins Stallions defensive end Dondrea Tillman on the roster, who had the second-best PFF grade among EDGE players in 2023. Safe to say quarterbacks might have a rough time facing the Stallions in 2024.

DE Anree Saint-Amour | New Orleans Breakers

Clearly the defensive end position was a spot the Stallions wanted to strengthen as they also added Breakers defensive end Anree Saint-Amour. Saint-Amour put together two great seasons in New Orleans, registering 68 tackles and eight sacks.

Between Tillman, Mata’afa, Saint-Amour, and the other EDGE players the Stallions protected, this should be a scary unit for the Stallions heading into 2024.

LB Chris Orr | New Jersey Generals

The Stallions used their first pick in the dispersal draft on linebacker Chris Orr. Linebacker was an issue for the Stallions at times in 2023. Star linebacker DeMarquis Gates left for the NFL. Other star linebacker Scooby Wright was injured most of the season. Quentin Poling emerged in their stead as a star in his own right, but he retired from football before the season was over.

Clearly, the Stallions needed to strengthen this unit heading into 2024, and they have already done so by nabbing two All-USFL linebackers from 2023 (Orr and Kyahva Tezino, who they added in free agency). Orr had a monster season in 2023, registering 81 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery in just nine games.

Orr, Tezino, and Wright are a three-headed monster that no UFL offenses will want to face next season.

CB Channing Stribling | Philadelphia Stars

Cornerback was one position the Stallions really needed to improve after letting several players go unprotected. They were able to grab one of the best in Stars cornerback Channing Stribling.

Stribling struggled with injuries in 2023, but he had an incredible year in 2022 when he earned All-USFL honors. That season, he had seven interceptions in just seven games. Despite his injuries, the former Michigan Wolverine was still able to record 13 tackles, an interception, four pass breakups, and one fumble recovery in 2023.

S Eli Walker | Pittsburgh Maulers

Another position the Stallions clearly wanted to improve was the safety spot. Of their 11 picks, three were safeties.

Eli Walker is likely the most familiar of the three. Walker played for the Maulers last year, who the Stallions defeated in the USFL Championship. The Maulers had the best defense in the USFL last season, and Walker was a big part of that–even if he did not receive the praise and recognition some other players did. Now, he rejoins Maulers defensive captain Kyahva Tezino in Birmingham.

Walker finished 2023 with 37 tackles, one sack, and one interception. He also was one of the Maulers highest graded players according to PFF. The Stallions will not return either of their starting safeties from 2022-2023, so Walker has a chance to come in and immediately start for Birmingham in 2024.

S James Wiggins | New Orleans Breakers

The second safety the Stallions added was James Wiggins from New Orleans. Wiggins joined the Breakers late in 2023 but made an immediate impact. In one of his first games in the league against the Memphis Showboats, Wiggins had two interceptions.

Wiggins went on to post 12 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and two pass breakups in just four games. The Stallions, who had the opportunity to play against him, clearly liked what they saw out of him and were sure to nab him in the dispersal draft.

S Daniel Isom | Philadelphia Stars

The third safety the Stallions added, Daniel Isom, never actually played a game for the Stars. He was added this offseason heading into 2024. However, the Stallions like what they saw out of him elsewhere and decided to pick him up.

Isom played for Mike Leach at Washington State where he had 119 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles, an interceptions, and seven pass breakups in three years. He spent some time with the Rams but is looking to get back to the league. The Stallions will give him a shot to prove he belongs.

K Chris Blewitt | Pittsburgh Maulers

Ever since Brandon Aubrey left for the Dallas Cowboys, the Stallions have been in need of a kicker. Aubrey, who was with the Stallions in 2022 and 2023, is not coming back anytime soon as he is now breaking NFL records, playing in the Pro Bowl, and being part of the All-Pro team.

In his place, the Stallions picked up former Maulers kicker Chris Blewitt. Blewitt joined the Maulers a few weeks into the season in 2023 and immediately solved their kicking woes. He went 21/25 during the regular season, including a 5/5 game the week he joined the team. He also went 4/5 in the USFL Championship, providing the Maulers with their only points.

There were several excellent kickers available in the dispersal draft, including All-USFL selection Luis Aguilar. However, Blewitt was the right choice for the Stallions. Blewitt’s biggest struggle is accuracy as he only went 10/13 on extra points during the regular season in 2023. However, the UFL is likely doing away with PATs. What they are keeping, though, is the USFL kickoff. What the Stallions will need is a kicker with a big leg, and Blewitt has that. He made a 59 yard field goal with ease last season. He also was the best kickoff specialist in the USFL last year, averaging 73 yards per kickoff. Blewitt’s leg will be a great weapon for the Stallions in 2024.

Protected Players

QB J’Mar Smith: Former Stallions starting quarterback J’Mar Smith is back in 2024. With Alex McGough gone, this is his team now.

QB Adrian Martinez: The Stallions only kept two quarterbacks, and the second one was the recent addition. Martinez had a fantastic career at Nebraska and Kansas State, and he should flourish under Skip Holtz’s tutelage.

RB C. J. Marable: Marable is back for his third season as the Stallions starting running back. He had a fantastic year for the Stallions in 2023, doing it all. He looks to build on that in 2024.

RB Ricky Person, Jr.: Person emerged late in the season as a potential steal for the Stallions. Birmingham nabbed him from an indoor football league, but he proved he could play at this level. Expect him to be a bigger part of the offense in 2024.

WR Victor Bolden, Jr.: The 2022 USFL Championship MVP is back. After spending time in the NFL and with the Arlington Renegades, Bolden returns to Birmingham.

WR Marlon Williams: Williams suffered a season-ending injury in week one of 2023. He’s through rehab now and ready to go. Expect a huge season from him in 2024.

WR Deon Cain: Cain was one of the Stallions best players in 2023, earning USFL Championship MVP honors. He spent some time with the Eagles this offseason, but he is back for 2024.

WR Amari Rodgers: One of the Stallions last additions in free agency, Rodgers has a super high ceiling. The former Clemson star could be a difference maker for the Stallions in 2024.

WR Gary Jennings, Jr.: The former West Virginia Mountaineer and St. Louis Battlehawk switches sides for 2024. Anthony Becht complained about it on X, but it’s not changing anything: Jennings is a Stallion.

WR Binjimen Victor: The former Ohio State star was another huge add for the Stallions in free agency. The 6’4 receiver adds a size dimension to the Stallions wide receiver room that was missing.

TE Jace Sternberger: The All-USFL tight end is back after a stint in Buffalo. Set the USFL record for receiving touchdowns in a season last year and looks to build on that in 2024.

OT Darius Harper: The offensive tackle has been with the Stallions since 2022. He looks to get a third ring in 2024.

OT Matt Kaskey: The Stallions starting right tackle in 2023 is back after a stint in the NFL. A great retention for this Stallions o-line.

OT Christian DiLaurio: The veteran tackle has played for several NFL teams. He adds experience and depth to the Stallions line.

OT Alex Taylor-Prioleau: Taylor did not start playing football until late in high school. The huge lineman has a ton of potential, and the Stallions look to bring it out.

OG O’Shea Dugas: Like Harper, Dugas has been anchoring the Stallions o-line since 2022. The Louisana Tech grad has been playing for Holtz for years, and it does not look like he’ll be stopping anytime soon.

OG Derwin Gray: A fan favorite, Gray is back after a great season in 2023. Starting at right guard, Gray did not allow a single quarterback hit all last season.

OG Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms: Wallace-Simms was a mid-season add for the Stallions in 2023, bringing depth and size to the o-line. He looks to have a full season under his belt in 2024.

OG Zack Johnson: The North Dakota State great joins the Stallions in 2024. His championship pedigree should fit right in.

C Cohl Cabral: The Stallions starting center from 2023 is back after a stint in the NFL.

C Cole Schneider: Schneider played center and guard regularly for the Stallions in 2023. He was signed by the Packers but is back in Birmingham in 2024.

DE Dondrea Tillman: Tillman was one of the Stallions best players in 2023. He looks to win a third ring in 2024.

DE DaMarcus Mitchell: A great free agency add, Mitchell was recently on the Patriots active roster. He could be a difference maker for the Stallions in 2024.

DE Carlo Kemp: The former Pittsburgh Mauler (2022) is no stranger to spring football. He was dominant in his one USFL season, earning an NFL opportunity. A great addition by the Stallions.

DE Curtis Weaver: Another offseason add, Weaver was dominant at Boise State. He adds depth to the Stallions d-line.

DT Willie Yarbary: Yarbary is no stranger to the Stallions. A starter since 2022, Yarbary is not going anywhere. He’s ready for a third ring.

DT Jordan Thompson: Thompson was in and out of the lineup in 2022. However, he took a huge step forward in 2023, quietly becoming one the Stallions best defensive players. No wonder the Stallions decided to bring him back.

DT Marvin Wilson: The former Florida State legend should be in the NFL. But their loss is the Stallions gain.

DT Jaylen Twyman: Another stud interior d-lineman who has been overlooked. Expect him to have a breakout year in 2024.

LB Scooby Wright III: Scooby needs no introduction. The face of the Stallions defense for multiple years is back.

LB Kyahva Tezino: The Stallions biggest USFL free agency pickup. The runner up for USFL DPOY instantly strengthens the Stallions defense.

LB Elijah Sullivan: Sullivan was in and out of the lineup in 2023. He’s back for 2024 and looks to make an even bigger impact.

LB Damon Lloyd: Added at the very end of the season in 2023, Lloyd never got to see the field for the Stallions. He made enough of an impression, though, the Stallions weren’t going to let him walk.

LB Travin Howard: A great free agency addition, Howard won a Super Bowl with the Rams. We could see a lot of him in 2024.

CB Nevelle Clarke: The former Breaker joined the Stallions in the offseason. One of the best USFL cornerbacks in 2023.

CB Lorenzo Burns: The Stallions nickel had a great two years with the Stallions. Ended up in Cleveland but was cut. He’s back and will be in the mix in 2024.

CB Chris Jackson: The former Marshall cornerback was another offseason add. He played in several NFL games with the Titans and brings that experience with him to Birmingham.

CB Mark Milton: The young prospect has a lot of potential. Played at Baylor and will look to prove he belongs in the league.

S JoJo Tillery: The mouthpiece of the Stallions defense for two years. He will be back and loud as ever in 2024.

S T. J. Carter: A key piece in 2023. He returns to help anchor the secondary in 2024.

S Kenny Robinson: Like Gary Jennings, a former West Virginia Mountaineer and St. Louis Battlehawk (2020). Amazing story foregoing college eligibility to help his family. Been in the NFL for several years and will be a difference maker for the Stallions.

P Colby Wadman: All-USFL punter in 2023. Stallions weren’t letting him walk.

Unprotected Players

QB Jalen Morton
QB Kyle Sloter
RB Bo Scarbrough
RB ZaQuandre White
FB Bobby Holly
OT Jahmir Johnson
C Isaac Weaver
TE Thaddeus Moss
WR Josh Johnson
WR Adrian Hardy
WR Peyton Ramzy
WR Myron Mitchell
DE Daniel Joseph
DE JoJo Ozougwu
DT Willie Henry
DT Keyshon Camp
LB Rashad Smith
LB Nate Holley
CB Brian Allen
CB Nate Brooks
CB Madre Harper
CB Bryan Mills
S Christian McFarland
S Cody Brown
LS Ryan Langan

All of these players will be available in the January 15th UFL Super Draft. Expect the Stallions to pursue some of them as Skip Holtz has already said. But other teams will inevitably be interested in them as well.

What are your thoughts on the Birmingham Stallions current UFL roster? Will the team three-peat in 2024? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!