The USFL has officially completed their second regular season, which came down to the wire in thrilling fashion. The playoffs were decided during the final two weeks, with Sunday night’s matchup wrapping things up as one of the games of the year.
Throughout the season, we’ve seen remarkable performances across the board. Offense, defense, special teams – it’s been an outstanding year for athletes in the USFL.
In this piece, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the top offensive NFL prospects in the USFL from 2023, and recap their successful campaigns.
This one is obvious. The likely MVP of the league was absolutely spectacular in 2023, taking the USFL by storm. When J’Mar Smith went down in week one, McGough came in and showed exactly why he was the first round pick for Skip Holtz just one season ago.
What a game this has been. Alex McGough finds La'Michael Pettway for the go-ahead score with under 30 seconds to go, and the @USFLStallions are back in front.
McGough led the Stallions to the first seed in the South, winning five straight games to close out the season. He threw for 2,104 yards and a league-best 20 touchdowns. Additionally, his dual threat capabilities were outstanding, posting 403 yards and 5 TD’s on the ground. His 25 total touchdowns is a modern USFL record.
The @USFLStallions are now in full control of this ball game. Alex McGough drops a dime deep to Deon Cain, who secures it for the score, and Birmingham leads 17-9.
Alex won offensive player of the year three times in 2023, showcasing his consistency and playmaking every single week. He hardly turned the ball over as well, tossing only five interceptions this year. With how impressive his USFL campaign was, odds are there are multiple NFL teams watching his tape, ready to give him a look when the postseason is complete.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson: 2,433 yards | 65.5% comp. | 14 TD | 8 INT Case Cookus: 2,295 yards | 62.8% comp. | 15 TD | 9 INT
Mark Thompson had one of the greatest spring football seasons from a running back that we’ve ever seen in recent history. In just eight games, he broke the modern USFL rushing touchdown record wide open, with 14.
Every single week, Mark Thompson continues to blow away the @USFL rushing record. What a game it was for Mark:
Thompson was the heart and soul of the Houston Gamblers offense. They didn’t have much of an identity until he returned from injury in week three, which ultimately resulted in the team winning five of their next six games.
Mark runs with a very patient attitude – but once he hits a hole, it’s nearly impossible to take him down. His style resembles that of a Leonard Fournette, or even Le’Veon Bell.
MARK. THOMPSON. He's now blown the modern @USFL rushing touchdown record open, as this blast to the end zone puts him at 11 on the season. @InMarkWeTrust has only played five games in 2023. He has to be in consideration for the #USFL MVP award.pic.twitter.com/hBbGmP3CRZ
Wes Hills took the USFL by storm over the first few weeks, but seemed to quiet down towards the end of the year. With that being said, Hills still led the league in rushing yards, posting 679 which is a modern USFL record.
What a day it was for Wes Hills in his #USFL debut:
Hills was a major red zone threat all year long. He racked up 10 rushing touchdowns, while also contributing through the air. Hills proved to be a valuable piece coming out of the backfield, with 278 receiving yards.
Darius Victor: 506 rushing yards | 5.6YPC | 4 rushing TD CJ Marable: 469 rushing yards | 4.3YPC | 2 rushing TD | 1,079 AP yards
The former NFL first round pick lived up to expectations in the USFL. Corey Coleman was an absolute weapon for Case Cookus and the Stars. He set the modern USFL record with 669 receiving yards, tearing up opposing defenses often (4 TD).
The #USFL after dark is lit, no pun intended. Case Cookus finds a wide open Corey Coleman for the 56 yard score, and just like that the @USFLStars take a 27-24 lead.
Coleman’s display of athleticism and smooth route running was no surprise. He was a first rounder for a reason, but things simply didn’t pan out the way he would have hoped in the NFL so far. That being said, after such an impressive USFL season, expect to see him take the leap back to where he belongs.
Corey was the most targeted receiver this year, with 78 total passes thrown his way.
There’s a reason why Alex McGough put up MVP numbers – he was throwing to targets such as Davion Davis. Davis went into this season as a “backup”, but turned out to be electrifying in Skip Holtz’ offense.
Davion posted 575 receiving yards and four scores this season, stepping up for a team that struggled with injury issues throughout the year. McGough spoke earlier this year about how he’s always in the right place at the right time, which greatly benefits the style of play that Alex utilizes.
Davion Davis (437yds) and Jace Sternberger (375yds) have been clutch & valuable weapons for Alex McGough in the #USFL this year.
Hall came into the USFL as a relatively unknown prospect, but put the entire league on notice with an unbelievable first half of the season. While his production dipped down the stretch, Justin was one of the top receivers all year long. Additionally, he was dealing with some instability at the quarterback position, which certainly didn’t help his final numbers.
Watch Gamblers WR Justin Hall score the first touchdown of the game, on an absolutely sensational catch and run. pic.twitter.com/EzOiKV3m1x
Joe Walker had an up and down year with Michigan – yet, he still finished the 2023 season as a top five wide receiver in the USFL. Similar to Hall, Walker dealt with a quarterback carousel, catching passes from Carson Strong, Josh Love, and EJ Perry.
Walker’s biggest games were clutch. His week seven outing against the New Jersey Generals propelled the team to a win, one that allowed them to stay in the playoff hunt and eventually clinch.
Joe wrapped up the regular season catching 40 passes (on 77 targets) for 509 yards, and three touchdowns.
Cam Echols-Luper | New Jersey Generals
Cam Echols-Luper did a little bit of everything for the New Jersey Generals. Despite dealing with quarterback instability, he posted 294 yards and two scores, averaging 12.8YPR. Cam is an excellent route runner, showing plenty of growth since making his TSL debut back in 2021.
Wow. De'Andre Johnson just made one heck of a throw under pressure to Cam Echols-Luper, who takes it to the house, tying things up in Canton. What a play.
Similar to Davis, Jace developed legitimate chemistry with Alex McGough, which led to so much success. Sternberger is extremely talented, having been a part of a couple NFL teams prior. The USFL turned out to be a perfect platform for him, where he posted 517 receiving yards – averaging 15.7 YPR.
As Jace prepares to play for a potential USFL title, he should also be preparing for an NFL call – which should be on its way immediately once the season ends.
Sage Surratt won a USFL Championship with the Birmingham Stallions just one season ago, but didn’t see the field too often. However, after a short NFL stint with the Los Angeles Chargers, he wound up with the New Orleans Breakers for 2023.
Sage Surratt is proving to be such an important piece of the @USFLBreakers offense.
This was a breakout year for Sage, replacing Sal Cannella in the offseason. He was thrown into the TE1 position, and thrived. Surratt compiled 552 receiving yards, leading all tight end’s – and finishing third in the USFL in that category among all receivers.
With how efficient his production was for New Orleans this year, it would not be surprising at all to see Surratt head back to the NFL when this season concludes.
There were a few offensive linemen who stood out as the top performers this season. With the NFL’s need for quality OL, it’d be expected to see at least a few of these names called up in the offseason:
Shamarius Gilmore | OG, Philadelphia Stars Paul Adams | OG, New Orleans Breakers Calvin Ashley | OG, New Jersey Generals Jake Lacina | C, New Jersey Generals Nick Buchanon | C, Houston Gamblers Avery Gennessy | OT, Houston Gamblers Jarron Jones | OT, Memphis Showboats Terry Poole | OT, Pittsburgh Maulers Joshua Dunlop | OT, Michigan Panthers
Generally speaking, there are plenty of candidates who could be listed here. The USFL was full of offensive talent in 2023, which was evident when watching the product on the field.
It will be quite exciting to watch which players make their way to the NFL during the offseason. We’re all well aware of the incredible success story of KaVontae Turpin from 2022, and should expect plenty more similar journeys moving forward
What are your thoughts on these potential USFL to NFL players? Which USFL athletes deserve an NFL opportunity? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!