The Guardians are back, this time representing a different city, Orlando. Head coach Terrell Buckley will lead the charge for the Orlando Guardians in 2023 with a brand new set of faces. Let’s take a look at how the Guardians are shaping up heading into the 2023 season.
Orlando seems to be heading into the 2023 season with a different approach to the QB position compared to other teams around the league. The Guardians are currently the only team in the XFL with just two active QBs on the roster, DeAndre Francois and Quinten Dormady. Oddly enough though, both QBs share similar paths to the XFL; More specifically, both Francois and Dormady began their college careers at prestigious power five universities, but both decided to transfer for fairly different reasons.
Francois’ career at Florida State University could not have started any better for him. After redshirting his first year at FSU, Francois became the starter entering the 2016 season and ran with the opportunity. Unfortunately, in early 2019, Francois was dismissed from the FSU football program due to a video of a domestic dispute between him and his girlfriend surfacing. This led to Francois transferring to Hampton University, where he started all 12 games, finishing with 30 total touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
8) Deandre Francois
You might remember him from his time on and off the field at Florida State. After things got squared away, he got another shot at Hampton, throwing for 26 touchdowns.
Quinten Dormady began his college career at the University of Tennessee, but after only a few starts for the Volunteers through three years, Dormady transferred to the University of Houston. After minimal success in Houston, Dormady once again transferred, this time to Central Michigan. During his senior season at CMU, Dormady played his most games in a season (10), and finished with 2,312 yards and a 140.3 rating on the season.
At this time, it is unclear whether Francois or Dormady will start week one against the Houston Roughnecks. Either way, it is hard to expect much from either right off the bat due to their lackluster résumés, and not facing this type of competition regularly since competing at power five schools.
The Guardians currently have four running backs on the roster, led by Florida legend Kelvin Taylor, who broke Emmit Smith’s Florida high school rushing record with 12,121 rushing yards.
Other than being a complete stud in high school, Taylor attended the University of Florida and was a sixth round pick by the 49ers in the 2016 NFL Draft. Likewise to most of his XFL counterparts, Taylor did not find much early success in the NFL after bouncing between practice squads. Taylor also signed with the Orlando Apollos, but never played a snap. With very few live game reps in recent years, it will be interesting to see how Taylor handles any type of workload early on this season.
Not to mention, Kelvin is the son of former Jacksonville Jaguars running back, Fred Taylor.
Devin Darrington, Jah-Maine Martin, and Darius Clark are the other three running backs currently listed on the Guardians roster. Clark spent time with Carolina as an undrafted free agent in 2021, but was released prior to the start of the regular season.
This is where the Guardians offense truly begins to shine. Eli Rogers and Dontez Byrd headline the list of wide receivers for Orlando as spring league veterans. Rogers played with the DC Defenders in 2020, impressing in a short amount of time as the slot receiver in Pep Hamilton’s offense.
Other notable names in the Guardians WR room include former Denver Broncos second round pick Cody Latimer, and Charleston Rambo from the University of Miami.
The rest of the WR core currently includes Dieuly Aristilde, Stephen Guidry, Andrew Jamiel, Octayvius Miles, Javonta Payton, Patrick Smith, and Deddrick Thomas. Expect this list to shrink come Thursday’s reported deadline of final roster cuts.
Possibly the position with the most unknown behind the QBs, the TE group includes Tommy Auger, Ryan Becker, and Logan Carter.
Auger shined in the FCF in 2022, where he was a first-team All-Pro TE.
Orlando fans should make sure to keep an eye on this position battle, and also be on the lookout for any TEs that become available this week.
The Orlando Guardians have 9 offensive linemen currently on the roster:
Here is how Orlando’s defensive line looks a little less than two weeks away from kickoff:
Florida native Terrance Plummer is no stranger to playing football in the sunshine state. After going undrafted and bouncing around a couple different NFL teams, Plummer played in the CFL from 2016-2018, winning a Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts in 2017. Following his time in the CFL, Plummer was drafted and played for the Orlando Apollos in the AAF. Once the AAF dissolved, Plummer entered his name into the 2020 XFL Draft and was selected by the Tampa Bay Vipers. Plummer started four of the five games in 2020 for Tampa Bay before the league was halted due to COVID.
After pinballing between different NFL rosters in his rookie season, Scales decided to enter the 2020 XFL Draft and was taken by the Dallas Renegades in the ninth round. Following the abrupt conclusion of the XFL season, Scales once again found himself in the NFL practice squad cycle for a couple years.
Now, back in the XFL with the Guardians, Tegray Scales has the chance to prove that he is more than just a practice squad player.
DeCalon Brooks, Jeremiah Gemmel, Lakia Henry, Terrance Smith, and Erroll Thompson round out the rest of the Orlando Guardians LB core. Smith is a 29 year old with NFL experience; playing for the Chiefs, Dolphins, and Cardinals.
Matt Elam is the type of safety that truly ‘jumps off the tape’ when you turn on his film. The former first round pick from the University of Florida played for the Defenders in 2020, but was cut midseason for unknown reasons. Now 31 years old, Elam returns home to Florida with the Guardians hoping to create the type of impact he had early in his professional career.
Josh Harvey-Clemons is one of the more intriguing players on this Guardians roster for me. JHC played defensive back in college at Louisville, but made the transition to linebacker when he was drafted by Washington in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL draft. At 6’4 245 lbs., JHC has that tweener body-build, similar to Arizona Cardinals LB/S Isaiah Simmons. It will be interesting to see if Guardians defensive coordinator Tony Carter decides to use JHC in that hybrid type of role.
Josh Harvey-Clemons pick-6. Located threat of over route, matched it, great job turning to find the ball. Nice return pic.twitter.com/eUHmT23LzE
The rest of the DB room for the Guardians currently includes: Baylen Buchanan, Antwan Collier, Javaris Davis, C.J. Holmes, Najeem Hosein, Mike Lee, Marcus Murphy, Justin Rogers, Maurice Smitherman, Shaquille Wiggins, Tyler Williams, and Roman Tatum. Tatum previously played for the LA Wildcats in 2020.
Dee Virgin remains on the Guardians reserve list as for now, but Virgin is another great CB option for Orlando if he is able to get on the field.
Terell Buckley and his staff made it a clear mission throughout the draft process to target players from the state of Florida. It shows a sense of community that Buckley and the Guardians hope to bring to Orlando and the surrounding areas. Will the homecoming affect work for Orlando on the field this upcoming season? Only time will tell.
Make sure you tune into the Orlando Guardians season opener on February 18th, in Houston against the Roughnecks.