Houston Gamblers Re-sign Kenji Bahar and Montell Cozart Ahead of USFL Free Agency | Houston Roughnecks UFL Super Draft

Analyzing The Houston Roughnecks Protected Players & Draft Picks

The Houston Roughnecks were another team who opted to only pick up several players during the UFL Super Draft. After selecting 20 athletes in the USFL Dispersal Draft, GM Lionel Vital decided to leave some openings for free agents ahead of the 2024 season.

That being said, the Roughnecks made several important selections – especially on special teams – during this draft. For a full breakdown of their USFL Dispersal Draft picks, check out our article from last week.

RB Ezra Gray

Ezra Gray is an interesting pickup, having played limited snaps across the last two USFL seasons. Gray was previously with the New Orleans Breakers and Memphis Showboats, tallying 37 rushing yards between both organizations.

Gray had an excellent college career at Alabama State, with over 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns to his name. In the 65 snaps he had with Memphis in 2023, Ezra had an above average 69.5 PFF grade.

WR Gene Coleman II

The Houston Roughnecks have secured some more depth at the wide receiver position, drafting Gene Coleman II. Coleman had originally signed to the team right as free agency closed in late December.

Gene played his college football at Delaware, where he saw a few successful seasons. Coleman racked up over 1,400 receiving yards there, alongside 7 touchdowns. His senior season in particular was one of his best, where he averaged 13.7 YPR, racking up 426 receiving yards.

Coleman garnered some NFL interest but ultimately went undrafted. Now, he’ll kick start his professional career in spring football with the Gamblers.

OT Norman Price

Norman Price brings depth to the offensive line, after spending the 2023 XFL season with the San Antonio Brahmas. He started in six games with the Brahmas, seeing time at both guard and tackle. Price is a versatile lineman who should have an opportunity to make a name for himself during camp.

DT Glen Logan

Glen Logan is a rather unique pickup, since he’s moving from the Roughnecks to the…Roughnecks. Logan played in the XFL in 2023, starting in five of 10 games played. He finished the season with 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Logan played his collegiate ball at LSU, tallying 110 tackles and seven sacks during his career there. Now, he’ll take his talents back to Houston – on a defensive line that is already very strong.

LS Logan Klusman

Logan Klusman returns to Houston, after being signed by the team this past offseason. The Gamblers had interest in Logan for the 2023 season, but he was unavailable at the time. Klusman ended up signing in July, as the organization moved on from Ross Reiter. Now, the newly-branded Roughnecks get their long snapper back.

K Luis Aguilar

The man, the myth, the legend. He’s back in action. Luis Aguilar needs no introduction, serving as a fan favorite in the USFL the past couple of years.

Aguilar joined the Philadelphia Stars midway through the 2022 season, and provided the team with stability at the kicking position. He made an impact instantly, and was a key piece to their Championship unit that year.

In 2023, Luis performed at an even higher level. He earned All-USFL honors with the Stars, knocking through 26 of his 29 field goal attempts. He was second in the entire league for points scored, only behind MVP Alex McGough.

One of Aguilar’s most impressive performances of the season came in week five, where he single-handedly willed Philadelphia to victory. Luis was 8-8 on field goals made, which included a 55 yard game winner.

The Houston Roughnecks now fill a much-needed opening with one of spring football’s top kickers. While the team had originally signed Gabe Brkic, considering he was brought in by the previous GM – Bob Morris – it makes sense to see Lionel Vital and Curtis Johnson take their own approach in the dispersal process.

Protected Players

QB Kenji Bahar: Kenji Bahar returns to Houston, which isn’t too much of a surprise. Bahar started for the Gamblers in 2023, and showed signs of maturity and growth. However, there were some lows, such as week nine vs. Birmingham. With the talent in the UFL, Kenji will have to continue to get better if he wants to retain his starting spot.

QB Jarrett Guarantano: Guarantano was an offseason signing, and a prospect who brings some legitimate competition to the QB room. Jarrett has had NFL stints with Denver and Arizona.

RB Mark Thompson: The USFL’s OPOY wasn’t going anywhere. Thompson is back in business, primed to lead the Roughnecks offense in 2024 after a campaign that featured a modern record of 14 rushing TD’s in eight games.

RB Shermari Jones: Jones had a limited role in 2023, filling in where needed during a few games, compiling 55 rushing yards.

RB Tiyon Evans: Tiyon was another offseason addition, who brings speed to the backfield. He rushed for over 1,000 yards during his final two years in college, and also had an NFL stint with the Carolina Panthers.

RB T.J. Pledger: Pledger had a strong showing when utilized, making noise for Houston in the absence of Mark Thompson to start the season. Finished with 197 rushing yards and 3 TD’s.

WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams: Anthony Ratliff-Williams is one of the most underrated playmakers in spring football. He’s been tremendous for Houston as a returner and receiver the past two years, and is primed to make waves in 2024 now that he’s fully healthy.

WR Emmanuel Butler: Butler was a late season signing for depth, coming over to the USFL from the Brahmas. He caught one pass for 18 yards in week ten with the Gamblers.

WR Keke Chism: Keke Chism will be a name Roughnecks fans want to remember. He made his presence known in the league last year, totaling 244 yards and 2 TD’s.

WR Isaiah Zuber: Isaiah Zuber is back, once again. Zuber has had two NFL stints following his USFL seasons, but always finds a way to return home. Isaiah is an extremely versatile player who will likely see time on offense, special teams, and defense.

WR Justin Hall: Justin Hall burst onto the scene in 2023 as one of the top receivers in the league. Hall racked up 513 receiving yards and 4 scores, being a go-to-guy for Bahar all year long.

WR Teo Redding: Redding is another underrated playmaker, one who has made a couple of the greatest catches in USFL history. Teo brings depth to the WR room and will likely be fighting for a roster spot in training camp.

TE Clint Sigg: Sigg was primarily behind the likes of Josh Pederson in 2023, but is in a position to see a larger role in 2024 if all goes well in training camp. Finished the season with 51 receiving yards last year, and had a 76.4 pass blocking grade according to PFF.

TE Rodell Rahmaan: Rahmaan is another TE who will have to prove himself in training camp. Rodell only played 40 snaps with Houston in 2023.

OT Avery Gennesy: Avery has been with Houston the past two seasons, and funny enough, was with the XFL’s Roughnecks back in 2020 as well. Gennesy started in all ten games with the Gamblers in 2023. Finished the year with a positive 69.5 PFF grade.

OT Na’Ty Rodgers: Rodgers was another big piece to the line in 2023, starting in 9 of 10 games played. Mark Thompson would not have had the success he did without the quality play of lineman like Na’Ty.

OG Jair Joseph: Jair played in four games for Houston in 2023, and returns to the Roughnecks to bring depth in training camp.

OG Jakari Robinson: Jakari is an offseason addition, strengthening the offensive line. Robinson earned 2022 first-team PFF All-MAC honors at the University of Cincinnati.

OG Justin Redd: Redd played most of his college ball at Norfolk State, where he earned MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2021. Finished his collegiate career at ECU, and now looks to kickstart his pro career with the Roughnecks.

C Nick Buchanan: It was a no brainer to bring Nick Buchanan back, who re-signed with the team in late December. Nick was a starter all year long, finishing with a 66.6 offensive PFF grade.

DL Chigozie Nnoruka: Chigozie Nnoruka was an important piece to Houston’s defensive line, starting in 9 of 10 games played. He totaled 21 tackles and one sack in 2023.

DL Tim Bonner: Bonner saw a limited role with the Gamblers, starting in 1 of 9 games played. Finished with nine tackles, 0.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery.

DL Jeffrey Johnson: Jeffrey Johnson was a college draft pick who joined the team midway through the season. Expect Johnson to see a bigger role in 2024.

DE Chris Odom: Odom is someone who does not need any sort of introduction. The 2022 DPOY is back in town, signing back just before free agency closed. Odom dominated the league in 2022, and now looks to get back to form after a torn ACL with the Cleveland Browns.

EDGE Ronheen Bingham: Bingham returns to the roster for 2024, which isn’t a surprise. Ronheen isn’t given enough credit for what he did in 2023. He had a defensive grade of 74.9, alongside a pass-rushing grade of 89.8, according to PFF. Posted 25 tackles and four sacks this past season.

EDGE Isaiah Chambers: Isaiah Chambers was tremendous in 2023, leading the USFL with 11 TFL, totaling 24 tackles. Chambers was another elite playmaker according to PFF, finishing with a 75.3 defensive grade.

EDGE Reggie Walker: Another piece to the line is Reggie Walker, who racked up 22 tackles and four sacks in nine games (two starts). Had a 73.7 pass rushing grade, per PFF.

LB Khalan Tolson: Khalan was a leader defensively for Houston, totaling 77 tackles and a sack in 2023. Tremendous talent who could make a case for himself on the All-UFL team with another solid season.

LB Jeremiah Tyler: Jeremiah (J.T.) Tyler had an excellent rookie season in the USFL, finishing with 54 tackles and an interception. Young prospect who should take another leap in season two, this time in the UFL.

LB Isaiah Pryor: Pryor is another depth piece who played well in 2023. Isaiah had 23 tackles in six starts, and earned a 77.1 pass rushing grade per PFF.

DB Jeremiah Johnson: Jeremiah Johnson is back in a Roughnecks uniform. He racked up 32 tackles and an interception for the Gamblers in 2023, and also had a key PBU in week ten to keep their playoff hopes alive.

DB Elijah Rodgers: Rodgers was an offseason signing for the Gamblers, and one that I’m happy is sticking around. Elijah has had a unique journey so far, and will look to kickstart his professional career in the UFL with the Houston Roughnecks.

DB Nick Grant: Grant was a starting corner for Houston in 2023, finishing with 28 tackles. Earned a 66.5 defensive grade, per PFF.

DB Dayan Lake: Dayan Lake proved to be an important piece in the secondary, starting in six of 10 games played. Lake posted 34 tackles and an interception in 2023.

DB Jai Nunn-Liddell: Nunn-Liddell is fresh off a mini-camp stint with the Baltimore Ravens, and signed with the Gamblers after an XFL combine showing.

DB Richard Bowens III: Richard Bowens is an offseason addition, one that Lionel Vital is very fond of. Bowens posted 20 tackles, 1 INT, and 3 PBU’s in his senior season at Saginaw Valley State.

DB Colby Richardson: Richardson signed to Houston just as free agency closed. He was a journeyman in college, finishing his career at LSU. Most recently had an NFL opportunity with the Detroit Lions.

S Manny Bunch: Manny Bunch has been a top safety in the USFL the past two seasons, racking up 90 tackles, two sacks, and an interception across that span. Not surprising to see him protected by Houston.

S Donald Rutledge Jr.: The hard-hitting Donald Rutledge returns to the Houston Roughnecks, following a 40 tackle campaign in 2023. Rutledge was outstanding prior to getting injured in week seven.

S Markel Roby: Roby closed out his college career at Pittsburgh State, racking up 40 tackles and an interception in 2021. After some NFL interest, Roby will continue his journey in the UFL.

P Hunter Niswander: Niswander is the only remaining piece of the 2023 special teams unit, and for good reason. He was stellar after being brought in ahead of week four, proving to be one of the top punters in the league.

Final Thoughts

Lionel Vital, Curtis Johnson, and the Houston Roughnecks are in a position to make a deep run in the UFL in 2024, if all goes according to plan. While it’s the Gamblers in Roughnecks colors, the team has made some solid additions during the draft process.

A key area of need remains: the quarterback position. With only two currently on the roster, and seven spots open, one would expect the Gamblers to bring in at least one other face to compete during training camp.

What are your thoughts on the Houston Roughnecks current UFL roster? Which free agents should the team pursue? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

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