Just like that, season two of the USFL is right around the corner. The league officially kicks off on April 15th, which is just 10 days away. During the offseason, several new USFL quarterbacks emerged on their respective rosters, with plenty of exciting prospects.
Carson Strong is, without a doubt, one of the most intriguing prospects heading into the 2023 USFL season. After losing Paxton Lynch to free agency, the Panthers needed another quarterback, and brought in Strong to compete for a starting gig.
Strong had some outstanding years at Nevada, posting ridiculous numbers. In his senior season, he threw for 4,175 yards alongside 36 touchdowns – all in just 12 games. Carson averaged 347 YPG that year, showcasing his unbelievable skill sets throughout the season.
From my very first start in 2019, through my last game. Through the ups and downs I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Good luck to all my boys tomorrow @NevadaFootball wish I could suit up with you boys one more time… pic.twitter.com/Je0NlyynpL
Strong spent some time with the Philadelphia Eagles, but never saw playing time during the regular season. That being said, it’s his past knee issues that are likely keeping him out of the NFL. Talent wise, Strong has almost everything you could ask for in a quarterback.
He’s got a large frame, yet can move around in the pocket efficiently. The zip and velocity he puts on his throws makes him extremely valuable as a quarterback, as his release looks like that of an NFL quarterback. With the right development in the USFL, Carson should have the opportunity to return to the NFL.
Josh Love has a pretty strong (no pun intended) grip on Eric Marty’s system in Michigan. Love was with the team in 2022. With that in mind, Carson Strong is in a position to start if all goes well – and, if he does, he could make a case for himself as the USFL’s best quarterback. He’s that talented.
Mike Riley’s Generals signed Dakota Prukop just a couple months ago, joining DeAndre Johnson and Kyle Lauletta in the QB room.
While Prukop might not be the starter in week one, he brings a solid resume to the USFL. In two years at Montana State, Dakota threw for over 5,500 yards and 46 touchdowns, before transferring to Oregon. At Oregon, he played quite well, throwing for 1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns in just five starts.
Prukop’s professional career has taken him to several different teams, all up north. He’s been in the CFL for the past several years, playing for Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. Now, he’ll make his first pro stop in the United States, in the USFL.
His style of play will likely fit Riley’s system well, given his dual threat abilities. Prukop is quicker than he looks – and has run the football effectively in the CFL for years.
It would make sense to see someone like DeAndre Johnson get playing time first, given his tenure in Riley’s system just one season ago. However, Prukop could certainly fill that role if his name is called upon.
The Maulers have a completely new QB room heading into 2023. They picked up James Morgan, Connor Sampson, and Troy Williams – as Vad Lee and Roland Rivers are no longer on the roster.
James Morgan is the guy to keep an eye on as the season quickly approaches. Morgan started his college career at Bowling Green, where he saw some success. He then transferred to Florida International, and played some fantastic football.
In his first season there, Morgan threw for over 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns in twelve games. During his time at FIU, James really seemed to develop as a pocket passer, looking poised and comfortable while tossing the ball all over the field.
Morgan ended up landing with the New York Jets, spending a couple of years with the NFL team. Now, he’ll look to find his professional footing in the USFL, and has a great squad around him to accomplish just that. Bailey Gaither, Tre Walker, Madre London, and others make up a talented Pittsburgh offense that should gel well with Morgan’s style of play.
Kelley had a fantastic college career, especially at Southern Louisiana. His senior season was nothing short of remarkable, throwing for over 5,100 yards and 44 touchdowns in only 13 games. While Cole isn’t the fastest quarterback around, he can also run when he has to – as he rushed for 485 yards in 2021.
At 6’7” and weighing in at 250lbs, Kelley is a force to be reckoned with. He’s one of the tallest quarterbacks in the USFL, and has a cannon for an arm. If Cole Kelley sees playing time for Memphis, expect him to unload multiple bombs down the field.
Ryan Willis: TSL Legend
For those of us who have watched spring football religiously, Ryan Willis is a very familiar name. Willis played for the Linemen in The Spring League’s 2021 season, leading the team to a Mega Bowl victory with a 5-1 record.
Willis is one of the most consistent quarterbacks we’ve seen in recent spring football history, as he was lights out for Hal Mumme and the Linemen. His best performance came in week four, against the Conquerors – where he threw for 444 yards and four touchdowns.
His outstanding outings resulted in Ryan winning MVP of the TSL, which was no surprise. After that stint, he spent some time with the Chicago Bears in 2022 – but was ultimately released from the team’s practice squad.
With the Memphis Showboats, Ryan Willis has a chance to lead a professional team for the first time since 2021. He’ll be going up against some stout competition, with Brady White and Cole Kelley being two solid options. However, if anyone’s proved themselves at this level – it’s Ryan Willis. If he starts for the Showboats, Willis is a candidate that could absolutely make a USFL MVP run.
Speaking of overhauled quarterback rooms – the New Orleans Breakers will have a brand new look under John DeFilippo. The team signed McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Davis Cheek, and Aqeel Glass to compete for the starting position in training camp. To be honest, these might be some of the most impressive signings of the entire offseason.
This man needs no introduction. McLeod Bethel-Thompson is an alt-football legend, winning two Grey Cups in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts.
The 34 year old is now betting on himself to make waves with the Breakers in the USFL. He could have stayed in the CFL and make more money, but decided to head back to the United States for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it made sense to be closer to his family, and that was a big part of why he returned. Secondly – he sees the USFL as a platform to get him to the NFL, something that he hasn’t given up on quite yet.
Bethel-Thompson tossed passes for 4,731 yards in 2022, leading the CFL in that category. He brings a lot of experience to New Orleans as a veteran, including a couple of NFL stints with Minnesota and San Francisco.
Interestingly enough, he did play in The Spring League, during their fall 2020 season. He played quite well for the Aviators, leading them to the Championship game. If DeFilippo is looking for a battle-tested QB to lead the team, then McLeod would fit the bill perfectly.
Aqeel Glass & Davis Cheek
However, we can’t sleep on Aqeel Glass. Glass was a star at Alabama A&M – throwing for over 12,000 yards and 109 touchdowns in five seasons with the team. Glass has so much untapped potential, and is an exciting prospect for the USFL if he can develop his NFL-caliber talent in the league.
Aqeel Glass (@AamufbR) throws a perfect ball and Trey Harrell (@UAPBFootball_) hauls it in for some YAC.
Glass’ senior season, in particular, was outstanding. He threw for 3,568 yards and 36 touchdowns, while limiting his interceptions to only seven. He also won back-to-back SWAC Offensive Player of the Year awards, as he continued to grow at Alabama A&M with each and every season. If Glass gets handed the keys to New Orleans’ offense, look out.
Davis Cheek is an underrated signal caller as well. He played quite well for Elon University, racking up almost 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season. Cheek is someone to keep an eye on, as he’s reportedly performing well in camp so far.
Generally speaking, the USFL has brought in some excellent talent for the 2023 season. These new additions at quarterback are bound to do great things this year, and we can’t wait to see them hit the field.
At the same time, the USFL also retained some of their best quarterbacks from season one. Case Cookus, J’Mar Smith, DeAndre Johnson, and others are all returning to their respective teams.