Analyzing The Arlington Renegades Letters Of Intent Signings

Looking At Roster Surprises In The UFL: XFL Conference

At the beginning of camp, I made an article for each UFL team trying to predict a final 50-man rosters. In the past few days, teams have made their final cuts and it felt like a good time to revisit those predictions to see where I was off. There was no way I could predict all the additions and trades made in camp so today I will be looking at the players that I cut in those previous articles that beat the odds and made the initial rosters. This article will only detail the XFL division with a USFL division article coming up soon. Let’s jump into it.

Arlington Renegades

Offense: RB Leddie Brown, RB Dae Dae Hunter, WR Tyler Vaughns, WR LuJuan Winningham, SLOT Juwan Manigo, T Noah Henderson, G Marcus Minor

There aren’t many positions that I had more wrong than Arlington’s running back room. I thought that the 2 dispersal draft pickups in Devin Darrington and Morgan Ellison. Instead, both were cut and Leddie Brown and Dae Dae Hunter made the cut alongside last year’s starter in De’veon Smith. Who I’m especially excited to be wrong about is Hunter who is one of the youngest players in the league at only 22 and in his first professional experience in Arlington.

At receiver I thought they would continue to turnover that position but instead they kept Vaughns and Winningham who were role players for last year’s team and one of the biggest surprises was Juwan Manigo who was last in the LFA down in Mexico the last 2 seasons but was able to stick as the Renegades decided to keep 7 wide outs.

The last 2 I got wrong were 2 rookie lineman in Noah Henderson and Marcus Minor. Minor was a rookie draft pick for Houston last summer before getting picked up in the dispersal process and Henderson was a UDFA in that same draft. This one I’m fine chalking up to T Garrett McGhin’s injury, and Arlington keeping 8 lineman instead of 7.

Defense: DL Davonte Lambert, DL Jalen Redmond, EDGE Bunmi Rotimi, CB Jamar Summers, CB Steven Jones, S Tenny Adewusi

The Renegades defense was only marginally better than the offense with one less player but there were plenty of misses. On the defensive line, I don’t have many excuses. I thought they were gonna keep Doug Costin over Lambert and Roderick Perry (who was one of the most surprising cuts this week) over Jalen Redmond. A similar story at edge rusher as I was picking between Noah Taylor and Bunmi Rotimi and went with youth which didn’t pay off. Lastly, the secondary had a few surprises. Firstly, they valued vets more than I thought they would, I had completely written off Jamar Summers and Tenny Adewusi ,who both had been starters in the past for different spring leagues, because both had bounced around in recent years but they made the cut and Steven Jones is another name to watch as he was a part of the 2023 draft class and spent some time with the Titans last offseason and was able to beat out some other guys with more experience like Elijah Hamilton and Nasir Greer.

DC Defenders

Offense: RB Pooka Williams, WR Ty Scott, WR Kelvin Harmon, T Tommy Champion, T Jean Delance

On offense, the DC Defenders are going to need to create a new identity with their top 4 play makers gone in RB Abram Smith (on IR), WR Lucky Jackson (NFL), WR Chris Blair (NFL), and Josh Hammond (Retired). That means there is a lot of turnover in the skill positions including 3 players that weren’t on the team when I made the original list in WR Vyncint Smith, Slot KeKe Coutee, and TE Kaden Smith.

Added to this list is rookie draft pick WR Ty Scott, and NFL vet WR Kelvin Harmon who really surprised me as he wasn’t able to make the Philadelphia Stars last year but was able to realize some of his potential in camp this year despite half as many teams. They also had 2 surprises on the offensive line as they cut all of the players I had listed at guard except Liam Fornadel which probably means Jean Delance will be working inside and DC had Kyle Murphy retire before camp which makes way for Tommy Champion to make it after being an addition late last season.

Defense: DL Dennis Johnson, EDGE Derick Roberson, LB Ferrod Gardner, LB Anthony Hines, CB Nydair Rouse, CB Isaiah Johnson

The defensive cuts had plenty of surprises with vets like DL Boogie Roberts, EDGE Tim Ward, and LB Jordan Evans all not making the cut; it led to new faces getting on the 50-man roster. At defensive line, one of the biggest surprises was Dennis Johnson making the final roster as he was an XFL combine participant last summer with no professional experience and was able not only Boogie, but Donavan Jeter and Tariqious Tisdale.

Same story for Derick Roberson who was on the Roughnecks’ IR all of last season but was able to make it. DC decided to keep 5 linebackers so returning depth/special teams pieces in Ferrod Gardner and Anthony Hines were able to stick around for a second season. Lastly, former 4th round pick Isaiah Johnson made it in a deep corner room alongside Nydair Rouse who defied the odds last offseason as he made the roster after being a NFL Alumni Academy assigned player. He was able to be a solid rotational piece last year and he looks to be doing that again this year.

San Antonio Brahmas

Offense: RB John Lovett, WR KD Cannon, TE Alize Mack, T Greg Eiland, G Aaron Monterio, G Chuck Filiaga

San Antonio’s offense was gonna be interesting with the amount of turnover they had this offseason. They decided to keep some spring football vets in John Lovett and KD Cannon over intriguing newcomers that I had on the 50-man roster like RB Jaylen Samuels and WR Kade Warner. They only kept 5 players on offense from last season and Alize Mack was one of them despite not being a very tight end friendly system in AJ Smith’s air raid offense.

The last 3 names were along the offensive line which was a hard group to predict. Not only did 3 make it that I had cut, but they also look to be starting Greg Eiland at right tackle and Aaron Monterio, who was a Hines Ward era addition, at right guard if social media posts from practice are to be believed. Chuck Filiaga is the last one to mention and he’ll look to be in a reserve role at guard.

Defense: DL Taron Vincent, DL Jacob Sykes, EDGE Garrett Nelson, LB Robert Barnes, CB Corey Mayfield Jr, CB Gavin Heslop

My predictions for the Brahmas were screwed from the jump with DL Austin Edwards and CB Kevin Tolliver not reporting and CB Quincy Wilson landing on IR. This means there were some spots open for under the radar faces to make the roster. On the defensive line they had 5 first year lineman fighting for 2 spots and in the end, Taron Vincent and Jacob Sykes prevailed, they should be deep sleepers to watch because of that.

They decided to keep an extra edge than I assumed they would which let the rookie out of Nebraska Garrett Nelson make the squad. Then at linebacker we have the 2nd of 3 XFL combine players to make final rosters in Robert Barnes. Finally, with the injuries and DNRs at corner, it led to 2 young journeyman corners to make the team in Corey Mayfield and Gavin Heslop. These guys listed for the Brahmas defense is the group I’m by far the most excited to be wrong about and probably have the most upside to continue to prove me wrong during the season.

Special Teams: K Donald De La Haye

As the only specialist to make one of these list in the XFL or USFL divisions, Donald “Deestroying” De La Haye was able to beat the odds when getting picked over NFL veteran kicker Matt Amendola. This opens the door for what might be the most important player for the league’s survival to get a chance to prove that hype. If De La Haye works out, it could be a story for the league that money can’t buy or it won’t work out and it will be seen as a gimmick. Either way, it’s one of the most fascinating stories spring football has ever seen. Also if you haven’t, check out his series Project NFL below, it’s the best spring football content we’ve ever gotten.

St. Louis Battlehawks

Offense: WR Jeff Thomas, TE Kemari Averett, T Abdul Beecham, T Eric Magwood

Offensively, St. Louis was fairly predictable. They decided to keep Jeff Thomas due in part to their top receiver, Jahcour Pearson’s injury in camp. I picked Kemore Gamble as the second tight end with Jake Sutherland at the beginning of camp because he was a rookie draft pick but the UDFA in Kemari Averett was able to beat him out.

Lastly, I was screwed on the offensive line due to Jack Snyder not reporting and Sage Doxtater getting placed on IR. Given that, keeping 2 spring football vets in former Orlando Guardian T Abdul Beecham and returning T Eric Magwood makes a ton of sense.

Defense: DL TJ Pesefea, LB Callahan O’Reily, and CB Tim Harris

Somehow, the Battlehawks defense was even more chalk than their offense with only 3 players surprising me. The most impressive of the 3 was DL TJ Pesefea who as a rookie was able to beat out DL Kevin Atkins who was a starter for the Battlehawks last year and got an NFL opportunity with Giants last camp.

At linebacker, we have our third and final XFL combine assigned player to make a roster in Callahan O’Reily who was penciled into that LB 4 spot once rookie LB Johnny Buchanan was placed on IR. The last player to make it was returning CB Tim Harris who I thought was going to get shoved out with the amount of additions made at corner but he was able to stick.

Final Thoughts

While part of the point of this article is to look critically at these players to see if there was something that I missed, This is also an opportunity to look at some of the less proven players that had great camps and exceeded expectations. I am incredibly pleased to see guys that I had to leave off the rosters due to competition like K Donald De La Haye, Slot Juwan Manigo, or DL Dennis Johnson were able to beat out proven vets to earn spots. These are all players I’m keeping an eye on because you never know where the next Kavontae Turpin or Donald Parham will come from.

What are your thoughts on these players making their UFL rosters? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

Fubo