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Philadelphia Stars — Team Preview | Offense

The first ever Philadelphia Stars (or actually the second coming of the original franchise) will feature many familiar faces for those who had followed The Spring League the past few seasons.

For most fans, very little will be familiar with the roster as TSL was ignored mostly in favor or pandemic news and the XFL the past two years. Created by Bryan Woods, The Spring League has developed from a showcase event into the football operations of the FOX-funded USFL.

Stars head coach Bart Andrus coached the TSL’s Generals in 2020 and 2021. In 2021 the Generals finished the year 4–2, led by NFL veteran quarterback Ryan Mallett. The year prior, the Generals finished an undefeated regular and postseason led by relative unknown passer Bryan Scott.

Andrus used his first overall pick on Scott and filled the offensive roster with many players from the Generals (9 of 20 offensive players played under Andrus previously with the Generals) and TSL in general.

Andrus has an offensive background, but he’ll share coaching duties with offensive coordinator Marcel Bellefeuille and offensive line coach Jeff Jagodzinski.

Andrus was the head coach of the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe from 2001 to 2007 and later had head coaching stints with the Toronto Argonauts (2009) and Omaha Nighthawks (2012).

Bellefeuille was the head coach of the Hamilton-Tiger Cats from 2008–2011 and the two coached together with the Omaha Nighthawks in 2012. Most recently, Andrus helped out Bellefeuille when they were with the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Jeff Jagodzinski missed Bellefeuille and Andrus in Omaha, as he was the head coach of the team for a single season in 2010. Jagodzinski and Andrus did work closely together in 2020 with the XFL when Jagodzinski was the Dallas Renegades’ offensive coordinator and Andrus led the XFL’s Team 9.

Teams only have 30 days to implement their offensive system, so expect things to look pretty similar to what the Generals ran in The Spring League in 2020 and 2021. This could give the team major advantages against other teams due to their familiarity playing with each other.

I fully expect their familiarity with each other to be a massive edge and Philadelphia should have one of the top offenses in the USFL.

Bryan Scott (QB, Occidental, 26, 6’2–220)

  • Pro Experience: The Spring League (2018), Edmonton Eskimos CFL (2019–2020), Generals TSL(2020)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 1
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Scott was the 2020 TSL MVP and led the Generals to an undefeated season. Scott was in the TSL in 2020 because he opted out of his CFL practice roster contract due to the CFL canceling their 2020 season. Stars head coach Bart Andrus told media in 2021 that Scott was on the same level as other quarterbacks he coached including Steve McNair, Danny Wuerffel, Shaun Hill, Troy Smith, and Eric Crouch.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Occidental College has not had an alumni play in the NFL since 1996. Scott came out of the draft in 2017 and is now 26 years old, older than a lot of quarterbacks who get mini-camp and training camp invites.
  • Stars Connection: Was with Bart Andrus in The Spring League in 2018 and 2020. Stars’ OC Marcel Bellefueille was the WRs coach with the BC Lions while Scott was in camp there in 2017.

Case Cookus (QB, Northern Arizona, 6’4–205)

  • Pro Experience: Generals TSL (2021), Edmonton Elks (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 12
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Cookus spent the entire 2020 and 2021 offseasons on NFL rosters, but never was on a practice squad or active roster. At NAU, Cookus battled injuries but was an impressive player, especially as a freshman when he threw 35 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. Cookus was described by another coach as the top FCS quarterback prospect since Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: The Edmonton Elks opted not to bring back Cookus for the 2022 season. Cookus didn’t get any significant NFL preseason action in 2020 and 2021, which typically means that a player isn’t close to consideration for making the team. Cookus played behind Ryan Mallett in The Spring League in 2021.
  • Stars Connection: Was with Bart Andrus with the Generals in 2021.

Matt Colburn (RB, Wake Forest, 24, 5’10–201)

  • Pro Experience: New York Guardians (2020), Blues TSL (2020)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 28
  • Why they’re in the USFL: At Wake Forest, Colburn had 542 carries for 2550 yards and 15 touchdowns in 47 career games. Colburn spent 2019 camp with the Los Angeles Rams and the 2020 season with the XFL’s Guardians.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Colburn doesn’t have any special traits and is not overly strong or quick. Colburn would have a real shot if he showed he could contribute on special teams.
  • Stars Connections: Played in TSL in 2020.

Darnell Holland (RB, Kennesaw State, 25, 5’10–195)

  • Pro Experience: XFL Team 9 (2020), Generals TSL (2020–2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 27
  • Why they’re in the USFL: As a senior at Kennesaw State, Holland averaged 11.86 yards per carry and ran for a total of 949 yards! In The Spring League, Holland also impressed as a Generals back in 2020 and 2021.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Kennesaw State is a new football program and has not had any NFL players. Kennesaw State ran the triple option, which is not necessarily translatable to the NFL for running backs. Holland was unable to make a final XFL roster.
  • Stars Connection: Played under coach Andrus with the Generals in 2020 and 2021

Paul Terry (RB, Eastern New Mexico, 5’9–200)

  • Pro Experience: Generals (2020–2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Supplemental Draft, Round 10
  • Why they’re in the USFL: In 2019, Terry set the ENMU single season rushing record with 1,888 rushing yards and was a first-team All-D2 player.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Terry comes from a D2 program that does not have any recent NFL alumni. He has not been on the NFL, XFL, or CFL radar.
  • Stars Connection: Played under Bart Andrus for two seasons with the Generals.

Bug Howard (TE, North Carolina, 27, 6’5–228)

  • Pro Experience: Cleveland Browns (2017), Atlanta Legends (2019), Denver Broncos (2019), Jacksonville Jaguars (2020), Alphas TSL (2020)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 34
  • Why they’re in the USFL: At UNC Bug Howard caught 18 touchdown passes and 146 receptions for 2048 yards. After Howard switched to tight end in the AAF, his NFL options reopened and got looks with the Broncos and Jaguars.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Howard was a big, productive target at UNC, but he was deemed too slow by NFL scouts and was transitioned to tight end.
  • Stars Connections: Played in TSL in 2020.

Artayvious Lynn (TE, TCU, 25, 6’5-254)

  • Pro Experience: None
  • USFL Draft Selection: Supplemental Draft, Round 5
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Lynn was in camp with the Cowboys in 2021 after an impressive Pro Day where he ran a 4.7 40-yard dash despite his large build at 6’5–254.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Lynn was never the top tight end at TCU and had only 22 career receptions. At TCU Lynn played behind Pro Wells, who signed as an UDFA with the Bengals in 2021 and was cut before the season.
  • Stars Connections: None

Devin Gray (WR, Cincinnati, 26, 6’0–191)

  • Pro Experience: Atlanta Falcons (2018–2020), Generals TSL (2021), Baltimore Ravens (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 13
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Gray spent three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, primarily on their practice squad. In two years at Cincinnati, Gray caught 86 passes for 1304 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Gray has been given plenty of NFL opportunities and hasn’t done much with them up to this point.
  • Stars Connection: Played under Bart Andrus in 2021 with the Generals.

Chris Rowland (WR, Tennessee State, 24, 5’8–170)

  • Pro Experience: Atlanta Falcons (2020), Tennessee Titans (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Supplemental Draft, Round 6
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Rowland spent the past two seasons on NFL practice squads. In college, Rowland broke Jerry Rice’s HBCU record for receptions in a season. NFL teams felt Rowland was worth developing as a potential return specialist.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Rowland’s 5’8 height is generous, he might be closer to 5’6 or 5’7, which limits his catch radius and his ability to be much more on offense than a gadget player.
  • Stars Connections: None

Jordan Suell (WR, Southern Oregon, 24, 6’6–205)

  • Pro Experience: Generals TSL (2020)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 14
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Has great size at 6’6 and solid speed at 4.5, and at Southern Oregon he had 42 receptions for 834 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019. Was a star in the 2020 TSL season, connecting with current Stars’ QB Bryan Scott.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Suell didn’t make the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ practice roster after spending all of 2021 camp on the team. Only three players from Southern Oregon have ever played in the NFL and the last time a non-kicker played was in 2005.
  • Stars Connection: Played under Bart Andrus with the Generals in 2020.

Diondre Overton (WR, Clemson, 23, 6’4–210)

  • Pro Experience: Vienna Vikings (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 16
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Still just 23 years old and played in 33 games with the Clemson Tigers. In 33 games, caught 55 passes for 777 yards and 7 touchdowns while playing with some of the best receivers in the nation.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Overton was cut by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2021 shortly after signing and the NFL passed on signing Brown the first go-around.
  • Stars Connection: None

Brennan Eagles (WR, Texas, 23, 6’4–225)

  • Pro Experience: None
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 15
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Eagles was productive at Texas, bringing in 61 receptions for 1026 yards and 10 touchdowns in 22 games. He has nice size and athleticism and is still just 23 years old.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Not a very polished receiver, catcher, and route runner. Likely would have benefited from staying in school but should be on a lot of team’s radars in the USFL. Didn’t get a practice squad invite after not making the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.
  • Stars Connection: None

Maurice Alexander (WR, FIU, 5’11–180)

  • Pro Experience: None
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 17
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Alexander converted from QB to QR as a junior and showcased his skills as an electric return man and utility player. Many small school quarterbacks have converted to wide receiver and done well in leagues like the CFL (example, Armanti Edwards).
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Missed out on the opportunity to showcase himself to NFL scouts due to the pandemic in 2020 (but attended FIU’s 2021 Pro Day). In November 2019, Alexander broke his ankle, further complicating his NFL future.
  • Stars Connections: None

Jackson Scott-Brown (LG, Northern Iowa, 6’4–320)

  • Pro Experience: Conquerors TSL (2020), Hub Football (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 22
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Three year starter at left guard for Northern Iowa. Has the versatility to play both tackle and guard.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Northern Iowa’s 2020 Pro Day was cancelled so scouts didn’t get a chance to watch him play.
  • Stars Connection: Played in The Spring League in 2020.

Sean Brown (C, Mississippi Valley State, 29, 6’4–325)

  • Pro Experience: Colorado Crush (2017), Cedar Rapids Titans (2018), Salt Lake Stallions (2019), Nebraska Danger (2019), Philadelphia Soul (2019), XFL Team 9 (2020), Los Angeles Wildcats (2020), Generals TSL (2020–2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 20
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Brown was able to crack the rosters of the AAF’s Salt Lake Stallions and the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats. Has the versatility to play several positions.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Brown is 29 years old and has no NFL or CFL experience. From 2017–2019 Brown primarily played in indoor leagues. The last Mississippi Valley State alum to play in the NFL was Fred Thomas, who last played in 2007.
  • Stars Connection: Played with XFL Team-9 and the Generals under Bart Andrus.

Jake Burton (RG, Baylor, 6’6–312)

Blake Camper (RT, South Carolina, 25, 6’8–314)

  • Pro Experience: Generals TSL (2020–2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 5
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Camper is 6’8. His size was enough to get Camper selected in the fifth round of the draft.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Camper was always a part-time starter at South Carolina and he didn’t get picked up by the XFL in 2020 despite being in their draft pool.
  • Stars Connection: Played under Bart Andrus with the Generals.

Jahair Jones (OG, Miami, 25, 6’4–320)

  • Pro Experience: Arizona Rattlers (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Supplemental Draft, Round 9
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Made five starts at left guard for Miami in 2018 as a senior. Briefly signed with the Edmonton Elks of the CFL in early 2022. Jones has the athletic portfolio of an NFL offensive guard but still needs some development. In his first season in the IFL, Jones was an All-IFL first team selection.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: Despite being included in the XFL’s draft pool, the XFL didn’t end up signing Jones. Jones then was forced to turn to indoor football. Jones does have some past off-field incidents.
  • Stars Connection: None

Lene Maiava (RT, Arizona, 28, 6’4–314)

  • Pro Experience: Salt Lake Screaming Eagles (2017), Arizona Rattlers (2018), Arizona Hotshots (2019), Columbus Destroyers (2019), Los Angeles Wildcats (2020)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Supplemental Draft, Round 3
  • Why he’s in the USFL: Was Arizona’s starting RT during his senior season and in 2016 signed as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks. Maiava successfully made final rosters in the AAF and XFL, so he should have no problem making this roster if he’s still in great shape.
  • Why he’s not in the NFL: After failing to make the Seahawks in 2016, he didn’t make the final roster of the Ottawa Redblacks in 2017. At 28 years old, he’s one of the oldest players on this roster.
  • Stars Connections: Participated in TSL in 2018 on a team coached bu Bart Andrus. Was with DBs/STs coach Martin Bayless in 2021 with the Los Angeles WIldcats.

Paul Nosworthy (LG, Buffalo, Age TBD, 6’4–300)

  • Pro Experience: Generals TSL (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 23
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Two year starter at left guard for Buffalo who has decent size.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Never signed on with the XFL, NFL, or CFL despite two years of film and working out in front of 14 teams at Buffalo’s 2020 Pro Day.
  • Stars Connections: Played under Bart Andrus with the Generals in 2021.

Michael Rodriguez III (OT, Louisiana Tech, 25, 6’6–296)

  • Pro Experience: Alphas TSL (2021)
  • USFL Draft Selection: Round 6
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Was an All-Conference USA Honorable Mention in his senior year in 2018. Played both left and right tackle in college. The Seahawks gave Rodriguez a mini-camp invite in 2019 but he failed to sign on. Rodriguez signed a CFL contract before the canceled 2020 season, but was released in the spring.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Despite being a USFL sixth round pick, Rodriguez is relatively off the NFL radar as he never signed with a team and didn’t get a chance in the CFL Rodriguez was not a heavily scouted player coming out of the draft despite playing in 41 games in college, which means that NFL teams saw him and weren’t all that impressed at the time.
  • Stars Connections: Played for the Alphas in The Spring League in 2021. Somewhat interesting that Rodriguez wasn’t picked up by his former coach at LA Tech, Skip Holtz, the head coach of the Stallions.

Gunnar Vogel (RT, Northwestern, 22, 6’6–310)

  • Pro Experience: None
  • Why they’re in the USFL: Spent time in the 2021 offseason with the Bears and Bengals after starting two years at Northwestern. Vogel has nice size and experience starting in the Big Ten. Vogel is still just 22 years old.
  • Why they’re not in the NFL: Vogel struggled greatly in NFL preseason action in 2021 in pass protection.
  • Stars Connections: None

Projected Depth Chart

  • QB: B. Scott, C. Cookus
  • RB: M. Colburn, D. Holland, P. Terry
  • TE: B. Howard, A. Lynn
  • WR: B. Eagles, M. Alexnader
  • WR: J. Suell, D. Overton
  • WR: D. Gray, C. Rowland
  • LT: M. Rodriguez III
  • LG: J. Jones, J. Scott-Brown, P. Nosworthy
  • C: S. Brown
  • RG: J. Burton
  • RT: B. Camper, G.Vogel, L. Maiava