The United Football League recently announced that John DeFilippo – formerly the head coach of the shelved New Orleans Breakers – would be taking over in Memphis. This is in response to Todd Haley being let go a few months back.
Now that DeFilippo has officially arrived, the Memphis Showboats are seeing some turnover. DeFilippo is bringing in most of his coaching staff from New Orleans, alongside a new General Manager.
Dennis Polian | General Manager
Dennis Polian was originally hired as the Pittsburgh Maulers GM a few months back, to replace Lonnie Young. Now that Pittsburgh is a defunct organization, he finds a new home with DeFilippo in Memphis, as Dave Razzano was removed last week.
News: The Memphis Showboats have a new General Manager, source confirms. Dave Razzano is out, and Dennis Polian – who originally joined the #USFL in Pittsburgh – has taken over.
DeFilippo opted to run with Polian, despite working with Ryan Jones in New Orleans. #UFL
Polian has plenty of experience in the world of football. He’s had stints in the NCAA, CFL, and NFL. Most recently, he was with the Baylor Bears as their Chief of Staff/Senior Associate AD.
– 2006-2007: Director of Football Operations at Tulane University
– 2008-2009: Assistant GM for CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats
– 2009-2017: Served with multiple NFL teams, including Vikings, Titans, and Colts
– 2018-2019: Associate AD and Director of Player Personnel at Texas A&M
– 2020-2021: Chief of Staff and Associate Athletic Director at Arizona
Doug Martin | Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers
Doug Martin spent the 2023 USFL season with John DeFilippo in New Orleans, helping lead the team to a 7-3 record with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Now, the former New Mexico State Aggies head coach will continue his professional career in the UFL with Memphis.
Carnell Lake | Defensive Coordinator
John DeFilippo had an opening at the DC position in New Orleans, having moved on from Jon Tenuta. Given Carnell Lake’s success in Memphis this past season, it makes sense to see Lake retain his role with the Showboats in 2024.
Carnell Lake has not gotten enough recognition for the job he's done as the Defensive Coordinator in Memphis. The @USFLShowboats defense has arguably been the best in the #USFL since week four.
Lake spent the last two years in the USFL in Tampa Bay/Memphis, and was promoted to Defensive Coordinator in 2023. After a rocky start, the Showboats went on a five game winning streak, largely due to the excellence of their defensive unit. Memphis will, no doubt, feature a stout defense once again in 2024.
Kirk Doll | Running Backs/Special Teams
Kirk Doll has also been with the New Orleans Breakers the past two seasons. He played a role in Wes Hills setting a modern USFL record with 680 rushing yards in 2023. In addition, his returners on special teams were excellent, with Eli Stove serving as one of the top kickoff returners in the league.
What a day it was for Wes Hills in his #USFL debut:
Doll’s special teams unit as a whole was a well oiled machine. Matt White, Matt Coghlin, and Turner Bernard all provided the Breakers with quality play throughout the year. Now, Kirk will take his talents to Memphis, to work with Alex Kessman, Brandon Wright, and Ryan DiSalvo.
TJ Vernieri | Tight Ends
TJ Vernieri’s status was up in the air heading towards 2024, but John DeFilippo has brought him back – this time to serve with him in Memphis. Venrieri has been in the USFL the past two seasons, working with the likes of some of the top tight ends we’ve seen in spring football (i.e. Sal Cannella, Sage Surratt).
Jim Turner | Offensive Line
Jim Turner sticks with Coach Flip for another year, joining him in Memphis. Turner’s offensive line was excellent in 2023, helping Wes Hills achieve a modern USFL milestone.
Cornell Brown | Defensive Line
Cornell Brown has consistently operated one of the best defensive lines in the USFL the past two seasons with the New Orleans Breakers. From the likes of Davin Bellamy, to Keonte Schad, to Anree Saint-Amour, the Breakers were a dynamic line who provided their defensive unit with all sorts of playmaking.
The Memphis Showboats also featured an excellent defensive line, led by All-USFL DT John Atkins. With the likely addition of some of Breakers standouts in Memphis, expect the D-Line to be even stronger in 2024.
Paul Pasqualoni | Linebackers
Paul Pasqualoni brings an impressive NFL pedigree to the table. He has served as a defensive coordinator in the NFL for years, with the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions.
Pasqualoni has been involved in college and NFL coaching/scouting roles for over 35 years. He spent the majority of his time in college at Syracuse, and also Connecticut. He served as the head coach at UCONN for over two seasons.
Now, Paul will bring his professional experience to the Showboats organization, with Zach Tenuta having been let go by DeFilippo in New Orleans months back.
Hunter Hughes | DB’s/Defensive Quality Control
Hunter Hughes brings plenty of quality experience to the Showboats organization. He worked with some of the top defenders in the USFL in New Orleans, as the Breakers defense was stout throughout most of the past two seasons.
The Memphis Showboats are locked and loaded for the 2024 UFL season. With the new leadership of John DeFilippo and Dennis Polian, Memphis fans have a lot to look forward to this spring.
After a 5-5 season that did not result in a playoff berth, the franchise will now shift their focus to filling out their roster through the upcoming dispersal drafts.
What are your thoughts on the Memphis Showboats personnel and coaching staff for 2024? Which players should the team pursue? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!