With less than 40 days until kickoff, the USFL’s debut season is nearly upon us. On February 22nd and 23rd, the official USFL draft was held, as each team drafted a solid group of players to set the tone for the league’s first season.
While every organization has impressive athletes that will play the game at a high level, there are some that stand out more than others. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at three running backs who are sure to perform at exceptional heights this season.
Hailing from the University of Michigan, De’Veon Smith is an outstanding player who should make a major impact on the Maulers. During his four year stint with the Wolverines, Smith ran for 2,235 yards, averaging 4.5YPC – including 10 touchdowns in his senior year alone. Smith’s speed is underrated, as he is more athletic than he appears. This was fully on display at Michigan throughout his college career.
First player to post a 100-yard rushing day in @xfl2020?
De’Veon is a spring league veteran, playing in both the Alliance of American Football and the XFL. In his time with the Orlando Apollos, Smith was very consistent, rushing for 345 yards and six touchdowns through eight games.
He became even more productive in the XFL, leading the league in rushing before everything was shut down. In just five games, Smith had 365 yards, alongside 62 receiving yards. He showed that he was capable of being more than just a short-distance down running back, and led the Tampa Bay Vipers’ offense week in and week out.
HOW DID DE'VEON SMITH HANG ON TO THIS?! 😱
He takes a MASSIVE hit and hangs on to the catch for the @XFLVipers 🔥
Smith also spent some time in The Spring League during their 2020 season, playing for the Aviators. In his debut, he ran for 53 yards on just seven carries. As the USFL’s season approaches, expect Smith to be a valuable weapon for Kirby Wilson and Pittsburgh’s offense.
Larry Rose III is an underrated running back, coming out of New Mexico State. The small, yet energetic athlete had a few unbelievable years at New Mexico, rushing for 4,558 yards and averaging 5.9YPC throughout his college career. His sophomore year is one that sticks out the most, as he racked up 1,657 yards and 14 touchdowns in just twelve games.
Rose participated in the XFL with the Los Angeles Wildcats, but saw limited playing time due to the amount of running backs on the roster. He also has spent time in the CFL, playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In the USFL, Rose has a chance to revive his professional career. Under Larry Fedora’s leadership, and with the playmaking abilities of Kyle Sloter, Rose should be an excellent fit in New Orleans. His presence in the backfield opens up the possibilities for the Breakers’ offense, filling multiple valuable roles.
The Philadelphia Stars got themselves a baller in Darnell Holland. The explosive back out of Kennesaw State was sensational during his college years; in fact, he ran for 949 yards on just 80 carries in his senior year, averaging 11.86YPC. Not to mention, Holland was signed by the New Orleans Saints, giving him a bit of experience with an NFL organization.
In the world of spring football, Holland is best known for his time with the Generals during The Spring League’s 2020 and 2021 seasons. Darnell won the championship with the squad in 2020, before lighting it up at an even greater level in 2021.
What makes Holland so dangerous is the fact that he can be utilized as a kick returner, alongside his abilities to be a threat in the screen and passing game. Considering Holland is being paired up with his TSL leaders/teammates in Bryan Scott and Bart Andrus, there is no ceiling for what this guy is capable of in 2022.
Generally speaking, there are hundreds of incredible players and athletes in the USFL, and we look forward to seeing how each and every one of them performs in April. However, Smith, Rose, and Holland in particular have proven themselves time and time again – and that should be no different in the USFL.
Which running backs do you think will perform well in the USFL? Do you agree with the players listed in this article? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!