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Houston Roughnecks Cut Roster Down In UFL Training Camp

The Houston Roughnecks cut down their roster to 58 players on Sunday, alongside every other team in the UFL. This team has some incredibly talented units, which in turn, resulted in plenty of roster-worthy athletes getting the ax.

RB Ezra Gray

The Houston Roughnecks cleared out their saturated running back room, starting with Ezra Gray. Gray was selected during the Super Draft, coming over from the Memphis Showboats. Gray had spent time with Memphis and New Orleans in 2023, but didn’t record many statistics.

RB Shermari Jones

Jones spent the 2023 USFL season in Houston, serving as a depth piece especially when the team was dealing with injuries. He finished the year with 18 carries for 55 yards. With the talent the team acquired this offseason, it would have been an uphill battle for Shermari to make this roster.

RB Ryan Nall

I thought Ryan would have an opportunity to stick on the team in more of a “fullback” role, but Nall has unfortunately been released as well. He was an offseason addition after spending time with the Chicago Bears. The Roughnecks are rolling with Mark Thompson, Tiyon Evans, and T.J. Pledger at the running back position.

WR Gene Coleman II

Gene Coleman was signed this offseason by Houston, out of Delaware. Coleman was one of the under the radar playmakers coming into training camp, having joined the team right before free agency closed. I’d expect Coleman to get another look from a team sooner or later.

WR Teo Redding

It’s unfortunate to see Teo Redding cut, as he’s been underrated throughout his USFL tenure. Redding has some unreal abilities to catch the football, and has produced at a high level when called upon the last two years. If Houston has some injuries or underperforming players at the WR position, expect Teo to get a call back.

WR Whop Philyor

Whop Philyor was added to the roster during training camp, putting himself on the map in a crowded receiver room. He has some spring football experience already, with the Michigan Panthers last year. With the amount of talent the team has at this position, though, this release isn’t too shocking.

C Nick Buchanan

Nick Buchanan no longer being in Houston is a shame. He’s been with the Gamblers the last two seasons, and started in all 10 games in 2023. Without Nick’s efforts, RB Mark Thompson wouldn’t have seen the success that he did, winning USFL Offensive Player of the Year. If another team is short on offensive lineman, Buchanan should be one of the first calls made.

C Jakari Robinson

Jakari was an offseason addition, one of the first by new General Manager Lionel Vital. It’ll be interesting to watch if he gets a call to come back at some point. Robinson is a young center with a lot of promise, and played some great football at the University of Cincinnati.

DT Reggie Howard Jr.

The former All-USFL defensive tackle is now back on the market. Reggie Howard made a name for himself in the USFL in 2022, earning All-USFL honors while playing for Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Howard was with the Breakers last year, posting 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

DE/LB Isaiah Chambers

Isaiah Chambers not making it past the first round of cuts is wild. Chambers was spectacular last year for a stout Gamblers defense, and led the USFL with 11 TFL. Clearly, the Houston Roughnecks having such a stacked defense made it difficult to keep everyone, but it makes no sense for Isaiah not to be on this roster.

DE Jake Hlava

While Jake Hlava is a talented prospect as well, his release isn’t too much of a surprise. He was an offseason signing, and hadn’t played in a professional game for a couple of years. Hopefully, Jake will get an opportunity to play somewhere else, as he has the attributes needed to succeed at this level.

LB Bryson Young

Bryson Young was picked up by the Roughnecks during the Dispersal Draft, from the New Jersey Generals. He’s an underrated playmaker who did some excellent things in New Jersey the past two years. Similar to Hlava and Chambers, this team was so loaded that there simply wasn’t room for Bryson.

LB Khalan Tolson

Another shocker. Khalan Tolson was a starter for the Gamblers last year, and was a key piece for Chris Wilson’s defensive unit. He totaled 77 tackles and a sack in 2023. Tolson is a standout player who deserves a roster spot somewhere.

DB Dayan Lake

Dayan Lake also started for Houston in 2023, serving the team with quality play throughout the year. He finished with 34 tackles and an interception. It would not be surprising to see Lake get picked up off of waivers by someone.

DB Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson being in this first wave of cuts is bizarre. He’s been a starter for the Gamblers the last two seasons, and had a solid 2023 campaign with 32 tackles and an interception. Interestingly enough he also played for the XFL’s Roughnecks back in 2020.

K Luis Aguilar

It’s tough to try and figure out why Luis Aguilar was released. The All-USFL kicker was tremendous for the Philadelphia Stars through two USFL seasons. It appears that JJ Molson will be the starter heading towards the season, since Luis was waived. This is a strange move, given the fact that JJ hasn’t kicked in a game for almost two years. Hopefully, Aguilar will be given another opportunity somewhere.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of surprising releases in this batch for the Houston Roughnecks. Granted, the team was put in this position due to taking 75 players to UFL training camp. Without a doubt, these were tough decisions for GM Lionel Vital, and HC Curtis Johnson to make.

It’s also worth noting that Curtis Johnson spoke to the media last week, and mentioned that the team had some position groups to tighten up. It seems that he wasn’t all that pleased with how things went during their joint practice with Arlington. In addition, their scrimmage against San Antonio on Saturday likely played a factor in some of these releases.

March 23rd will mark the next date for cut downs, as each UFL team will finalize their 50 man rosters.

What are your thoughts on these cuts for the Houston Roughnecks? Will any of these players end up on other rosters? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!