Breaking Down The Houston Roughnecks 2024 UFL Roster | Jarrett Guarantano

Breaking Down The Houston Roughnecks 2024 UFL Roster

The Houston Roughnecks have made their final cuts and officially have their roster down to the league-mandated 50 players. With less than a week to go before the UFL kicks off, the Roughnecks are gearing up for the ten-week regular season ahead. The roster is still subject to change and Houston might make a waiver claim or two before the end of the weekend. However, let’s look at each position right now and how they’ll shape up in 2024.

Quarterbacks

Jarrett Guarantano #6
Nolan Henderson #14
Reid Sinnett #7

The Roughnecks’ quarterback room looks completely different from the groups we saw in 2023 from either Houston team, in the USFL or XFL. Head Coach CJ Johnson announced to the media last week that Jarrett Guarantano would be the starter in week one against the Memphis Showboats. Johnson also mentioned that we would likely see Henderson get some snaps in week one, as well.

We saw Reid Sinnett get a bit of action in the XFL with the San Antonio Brahmas last season before an injury derailed his year. Despite Guarantano being named the starter, it feels unlikely that we will see him start all ten games this year. He is a spring football rookie, along with Nolan Henderson, and I expect both to have growing pains. There is going to be good competition between these three and Coach Johnson might just ride the hot hand as the season progresses.

Running Backs

Mark Thompson #8
TJ Pledger #5
Tiyon Evans Jr. #26

Unfortunately for Houston, the reigning USFL Offensive Player of the Year, Mark Thompson, could potentially miss week one and possibly more time. Thompson sustained a knee injury during training camp and his status is in doubt. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and is back quicker than reported. He is one of the league’s top backs, and one of Houston’s best offensive weapons. TJ Pledger and Tiyon Evans Jr. will be tasked with carrying the load in the meantime.

We should expect a heavy dose of the run game from the Roughnecks with an inexperienced quarterback room, so opportunities will present themselves for these backs. Pledger returns to the team after playing for the Gamblers in 2023 where he performed well in his complementary role. Evans Jr. last played for Louisville in college and spent time with the Carolina Panthers prior to joining the UFL. A lot of the offensive success for the Roughnecks will rely on how well these three players produce, but the ceiling is high. Coach Johnson has, so far, praised Evans’ abilities to create plays in camp.

Wide Receivers

Kirk Merritt #83
Justin Hall #11
Isiah Hennie #17
Steven Dunbar #89
Cyril Grayson #16
KeKe Chism #3
Anthony Ratliff-Williams #1
Emmanuel Butler #18

The receiver room is a position group that we should expect a lot out of in Houston this year. Some familiar faces return including Justin Hall, KeKe Chism, and Anthony Ratliff-Williams. Joining them are a couple of former-USFL pass catchers in Isiah Hennie from the Pittsburgh Maulers and Cyril Grayson from the Philadelphia Stars.

Kirk Merritt, Steven Dunbar, and Emmanuel Butler round out the rest of the position group – all players with NFL experience. Head Coach CJ Johnson has been a receivers coach for a long time, and we should expect him to get the most out of this group. They’ll most certainly help Guarantano in his first few starts.

Tight Ends

Braedon Bowman #80
Woody Brandom #88
Clint Sigg Jr. #42

It’s clear that the Roughnecks will utilize their tight ends in a similar fashion to the New Jersey Generals of 2023. A lot of blocking and short throws to the flats. Not only are two thirds of this room former Generals, but all three tight ends are above average blockers. They likely won’t put up big numbers or wow fans in the receiving game, but they’ll help lead the way for the running backs and give their signal callers easy throws when protection breaks down.

Offensive Linemen

Jack Kramer #65
Sharmaroius Gilmore #75
Braylon Jones #78
Brandon Haskin #76
Avery Gennesy #74
Na’Ty Rodgers #51
Cam Carter #72
Justin Redd #77

Every football fan knows how important and underappreciated the position of offensive line is. That rings true even more so in the UFL. Good offensive linemen are at a premium and extremely hard to find. Houston struggled at points last year giving Kenji Bahar time to throw, which messed up the timing of the passing game. Fortunately, they were able to bring back All-USFL offensive tackle, Avery Gennesy, to keep some stability. Still, the Roughnecks’ staff and front office made it a point to bring in good linemen from all over.

Some of the new faces include Jack Kramer, Sharmaroius Gilmore, and Brandon Haskin. Gilmore was All-USFL last year and impressed across the board with Philadelphia. I would be very surprised if we didn’t see an improvement from the offensive line in Houston for the 2024 UFL season.

Defensive Linemen

Toby Johnson #90
Olive Sagapolu #99
Keonte Schad #32
Ethan Westbrooks #95
Glen Logan #98
Chris Odom #93
Adam Rodriguez #58
Carlo Kemp #54
Ronheen Bingham #15

The interior defensive linemen and edge rushers for the Houston Roughnecks may be their strongest position group, and arguably the best in the UFL. To start with, they have Toby Johnson who earned back-to-back All-USFL honors with the Generals on the interior. They’ll compliment him with a great amount of depth at that spot, as well as great edge rushers. Chris Odom was the 2022 USFL Defensive Player of the Year in Houston, and Adam Rodriguez earned All-USFL honors in 2023 with the Stars. They have the potential to dominate opposing offensive linemen and set up their offense with great starting field position consistently.

An underrated addition is Carlo Kemp, who played with the Maulers in 2022. He earned a practice squad gig with the LA Chargers following that campaign. Keonte Schad is also a tremendous pickup, who posted 7.5 sacks last year with the New Orleans Breakers.

Linebackers

Reuben Foster #10
Gabriel Sewell Jr. #55
Jeremiah Tyler #33
Marvin Moody #28

Reuben Foster and Gabriel Sewell Jr. headline the linebackers for Houston coming from the Maulers and Stars, respectively. Both were excellent players last season that will fit the run game extremely well. Jeremiah Tyler and Marvin Moody are behind them but provide good depth at off-ball linebacker. With such a good defensive line in front of them, it should help them with reading their keys and playing fast.

Cornerbacks

Corn Elder #30
Jimmy Moreland #35
Jai Nunn-Liddell #27
Colby Richardson #29
Jeremiah Johnson #2

At cornerback, the Roughnecks have already seen a lot of player turnover but it’s expected that we will see more in the coming days or weeks. Corn Elder is a new addition to the group and will likely be CB1 in week one. Notably, Elder and Jimmy Moreland both have experience playing with the Washington Commanders in the NFL. They’ll hope to use that experience playing in the spring for the first time.

Head Coach CJ Johnson recently mentioned his displeasure with his cornerback’s performances in camp so we could see some more roster movement in the secondary this season. Jeremiah Johnson returns as well, who has been a staple for the Roughnecks and Gamblers from 2020-2023.

Safeties

Ja’Von Hicks #12
Markel Roby #31
Donald Rutledge Jr. #38
Jamari Brown #20

In a surprising move, the Roughnecks waived All-USFL safety Manny Bunch, and decided to keep four safeties. Bunch had lingering injuries and Houston decided to stick with a rather inexperienced and unproven group. Looking for youth at the position. Donald Rutledge Jr. returns after spending last year in Houston, hoping to build off his performance.

Still, the secondary as a whole has their work cut out for them, but they’ll be buoyed by an excellent pass rush. Markel Roby is a name to keep an eye on, as Coach Johnson has spoken on his playmaking week in and week out.

Special Teams

K JJ Molson #39
P Hunter Niswander #49
LS Logan Klusman #45

JJ Molson won the kicking battle in training camp, and he’ll take over kicking duties after an up and down season from Nick Vogel in 2023. Molson has NFL experience with the Green Bay Packers.

Hunter Niswander is back in Houston this year and should pick up right where he left off. Niswander joined the Gamblers midway through 2023, and was spectacular. In addition, Logan Klusman now replaces Ross Reiter at the long snapping position. Klusman was someone the team was interested in prior to the 2023 season, but now he finally teams up with Coach Johnson for 2024.

Final Thoughts

The Houston Roughnecks are going to look at lot different to the average fan in 2024. For those who might not be aware, the Houston Gamblers of the USFL have taken the Roughnecks branding. While the dispersal drafts have shaken things up quite a bit, this team has a much different identity compared to the Wade Phillips’ led Roughnecks of a year ago.

In addition, the coaching staff has seen a complete revamp with Curtis Johnson at the helm. For a full breakdown, click here.

The Roughnecks made cuts on March 10th and March 21st, and now finally have their final 50 players for the UFL season.

What are your thoughts on the Houston Roughnecks roster for this year? Will they make a playoff push? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!