Anthony Becht Speaks On St. Louis Battlehawks Roster Cuts & Future

Anthony Becht Speaks On Battlehawks Roster Cuts & Future

The St. Louis Battlehawks made some major cuts on Sunday, which was by no means an easy thing for Head Coach Anthony Becht to take part in. St. Louis put together a talented roster of 75 players for UFL training camp, but had to trim down to 58 for the final couple weeks before the season begins.

Something that you’ll notice is the fact that St. Louis only released one player who was on their roster last year (via Pat Rifino). Becht addressed this during his media availability on Monday, saying that “we believe in our guys, we believe in that continuity, and we believe that they earned that spot.”

Becht’s Comments On Cuts

Clearly, a lot of tough decisions went into making these adjustments. Becht spoke on this topic, and the empathy he has towards the players that were released:

“I’ve been pissed off before when I’ve gotten cut, fired, released…I know that there are a lot of emotions in that room; anger, tears – this is their livelihoods…the goal is to get the best guys, and I know that every guy is trying to be that. We had some young players that are 23, or 24, that have their whole world in front of them – and they might have an opportunity with us or someone else next year. Just keep pushing and striving if this is your goal.”

Anthony also said that he believes in every player on the roster, even those that were released – and he hopes to see them land on another roster if they don’t come back to St. Louis.

In addition, Becht touched on what he’s expecting from this group moving forward. The season will be upon us before we know it, and St. Louis will have to be ready for action on March 30th as they kick off their season against the Michigan Panthers.

“Our goal is that by March 30th, we’re ready to go. We can’t wait…our guys have to get it done. Going back to our meeting this morning, I called some DB’s out. And again, it’s to help them understand what the standard is. Some guys may not know what the expectation level was, and I try to present that to them every single day – they need to be reminded…We have 19 days, and I said we can look at it two ways. Either it’s ‘19 days, we’re running out of time’ – or, ‘19 days, we have time to improve and get so much better’. I want these guys to understand that there needs to be urgency, but there is time to build over these coming weeks. Every day matters, don’t waste a day.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the players waived by St. Louis this weekend.

RB Kevon Latulas

Kevon Latulas (who was listed as a WR on the press release) will not be with St. Louis this season, after being selected in the XFL Rookie Draft back in June. Latulas was part of a star-studded running back room, and the team will be rolling with Wayne Gallman, Jacob Saylors, and Mateo Durant.

WR James Bostic

With the amount of talent featured in the Battlehawks wide receiver room, James Bostic unfortunately did not make the cut. Bostic signed with St. Louis in October, and he was also drafted during the XFL Rookie Draft.

TE Kemore Gamble

Once again, Kemore had also been picked up in the rookie draft. Gamble signed in November, and was one of three tight ends heading into training camp with St. Louis. Kemore had an excellent season at Florida State in 2021, posting 414 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

OG Christian Olmstead

Christian Olmstead was drafted by the Battlehawks back in 2022, but was inactive for most of the 2023 season. After being re-claimed during the Dispersal Draft process, Christian is now back on the market. Becht mentioned that it was very difficult to cut him, but their offensive line unit is extremely deep right now.

OT Jazston Turnetine

Jazston was a new addition to St. Louis, and had originally signed a LOI to play with the Seattle Sea Dragons. Turnetine was picked up during the Dispersal Draft process. He’s a talented lineman who should receive another call sooner than later from a pro football team.

DT McKinley Williams

McKinley Williams recently signed to St. Louis out of Syracuse – clearly with a connection to General Manager Dave Boller. While Williams is, without a doubt, an asset; with the pickups on the defensive line for St. Louis this offseason, it’s not surprising that he didn’t crack the final roster.

DE John Daka

It’s tough to see John Daka not maintaining his role in St. Louis. He was a tremendous pass rusher for the Houston Roughnecks last year, posting 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks. According to PFF, he was the second highest graded player on the team, with an 87.7 overall grade.

DE Jadrian Taylor

Jadrian Taylor was an intriguing prospect coming into camp, having had an outstanding career at UTEP. Unfortunately, Taylor suffered through abnormal EKG during the process, which played a part in his release.

DE Mandy Alonso

Alonso was originally signed by the Sea Dragons this offseason, but was picked up by St. Louis during the dispersal draft. Mandy had an excellent career at Virginia, and is expected to garner some more pro interest soon.

DE Marcus Cushnie

Similar to the others in this position group, Cushnie is talented but was part of a unit that features so much depth, there isn’t room for everyone. Marcus was an offseason signing for St. Louis. If there are issues on the defensive line during the season, Marcus could certainly get a call to return.

CB Montrae Braswell

Braswell is a somewhat surprising release, as he was just with the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL’s preseason. Montrae is a young corner with loads of potential, and is the type of prospect who could greatly benefit from development in a league like the UFL.

DB Anthony Witherstone

Witherstone also was in an NFL training camp last fall, with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played his college football at Merrimack, totaling 48 tackles and three interceptions across his last 21 games there. Truthfully, the Battlehawks revamped secondary has some outstanding talent, which put Witherstone on the outside looking in.

DB Prince Charles Iworah

Prince Charles Iworah has been trying to find his footing in the pro football scene for quite some time. He’s had NFL experience with a couple of franchises, and also played in The Spring League (Conquerors) and the USFL (Pittsburgh Maulers). It’s worth noting that Anthony Becht mentioned that Prince could potentially retire if he doesn’t find another landing spot soon.

S Anthony Cioffi

Sadly, Anthony Cioffi did not make it past the first wave of cuts with the St. Louis Battlehawks. Cioffi was a fan favorite in the USFL in 2022 with the Tampa Bay Bandits, and was one of their top defenders that year. Surprisingly, he was let go as the team transitioned to Memphis. Anthony performed at the XFL combine last summer as well.

K Andrew Mevis

Andre Szmyt ended up winning the kicking battle in St. Louis, beating out Andrew Mevis. Both were new additions to the team, and fought tooth and nail to make the roster.

For Coach Becht, this was another decision that was not easy to make:

“Cutting Andrew was a tough deal. It was really a coin flip, I think they were basically identical kick-for-kick throughout training camp. I told them, I put a lot of weight into the scrimmage, and that may not be fair at certain positions, but I wanted to see how they kicked in front of other eye balls, in a different environment. I told Andrew that he could have easily made our team. But now, Andre has a chance to be the dude. I told him straight up to ‘make them all’. I want our kickers to make them all, and now it’s time for him to own the position.”

For what it’s worth, Anthony left the door open for the position to change in the future – but he has full confidence in Szmyt’s strong leg heading into the UFL season.

Final Thoughts

A couple of other notes from Anthony Becht’s media conference:

  • TE Kemari Averett has looked very solid so far. Making an impact in the passing game, and also blocking at a high level.
  • LB Lakiem Williams continues to “lead the charge” with their defensive unit, and their edge rushers as a whole look outstanding.
  • The team looked to “revamp their secondary” this offseason, and accomplished that through various means including the dispersal drafts.

One thing is clear: Anthony Becht cares deeply about his team, and the potential success they can see this season. This training camp process has not been easy, but the culture in St. Louis is being built brick by brick, led by the enthusiasm and grit that Becht brings to the organization.

With March 23rd right around the corner, the current roster will have a little less than two weeks to prove themselves to make the final cuts.

What are your thoughts on these cuts for the St. Louis Battlehawks this weekend? Are you looking forward to watching Becht coach this group this year? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!