The United States Football League, dormant since its infamous bankruptcy in 1985, has been rekindled, bringing with it the promise of a competitive football league for spring play, following in the footsteps of the Alliance of American Football (2019,) the second edition of the XFL (2020) and The Spring League (2021.)
The USFL, which will conduct its bubble season in Birmingham, Alabama, is currently taking advantage of the XFL’s transitional hiatus and launching their season next month, with the selection of players set to take place tonight starting at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
The draft process will be fairly unique; the Michigan Panthers won the draft lottery, giving them the first selection of quarterbacks in the positional-based draft, but they will not be choosing at #1 in every subsequent round.
Per the USFL, the draft system will utilize “an analytical modified snake system between positional rounds so that each team has two No. 1 picks at two positions — the first time such a draft order has been used in a major professional sports draft.”
Day 1 will see two minutes per draft pick, with quarterbacks, edge rushers, offensive tackles and cornerbacks selected. Day 2 will see 60-90 seconds per pick, with the remaining positions draft eligible by round. The eight teams have been given the option to “pass” on a draft pick in every round in lieu of trades, receiving a compensatory pick that may be used at the conclusion of a different position round instead.
At current, there are 400-500 athletes expected to be in the pool, with teams expected to sign 35 players apiece over the next two days. A compensatory draft later this month will bring that total to 48, split between the regular roster and practice squad.
The USFL, uniquely, has not released the player pool as of publication.
The draft will not be televised, with coverage to be determined by the eight member franchises. We’ve assembled this tracker to pluck any former #MACtion stars from the flurry of social media activity below.
[Names will update as reports come in, so please be sure to refresh frequently. Any athletes selected will be listed in chronological order, with later updates sorting prospects by university at the conclusion of the selection process.]
- Eric Assoua, EDGE/DE, Western Michigan (Round 4, Pick 2)
Welcome to the Maulers ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/0b51cgRM2w— Pittsburgh Maulers (@USFLMaulers) February 23, 2022
Assoua was a four-year contributor for the PJ Fleck-era Broncos, collecting 98 tackles, including 19 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks from 2015-2018. Assoua was rostered on the Alphas roster in the 2021 Spring League.
- Johnathan Newsome, EDGE, Ball State (Round 4, Pick 10, Comp. Pick 2)
Compensatory Pick: Welcome to Birmingham, Jonathan Newsome!— Birmingham Stallions (@USFLStallions) February 23, 2022
We have added another DE/Edge selection and will pass on a pick in a future round, as a result. pic.twitter.com/bF4kRr7EbN
Newsome is a seasoned veteran at the pro level, having spent eight seasons between the NFL and CFL. A fifth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, Newsome played for two seasons in the NFL, collecting 47 tackles, including 7.5 sacks, and forced two fumbles. He would then spend the next six seasons between the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa RedBlacks and BC Lions. Newsome left the Lions to pursue a professional opportunity in the States.
Newsome was a two-year starter at Ball State, finishing his career with 116 tackles, 24 tackles-for-loss and 16.5 sacks, while collecting first-team all-MAC honors in 2012 and second-team all-MAC honors in 2013. Newsome, a Cleveland native, was originally a transfer from Ohio State prior to his arrival in Muncie.
- Ja’len Embry, CB, Northern Illinois (Round 11, Pick 4)
Embry was a contributor in the 2017 and 2018 seasons for the NIU Huskies after transferring in from Iowa, finishing his career in DeKalb with 88 total tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss and 11 passes defensed from the defensive back position.Embry was the teams best coverage back, leading NIU in pass break-ups in his senior season. Embry was also used a lot in kickoff return coverage.
The Detroit, Michigan native picked up a minicamp try-out with the Houston Texans, but never played a down in the NFL. Embry’s most recent action was as a member of The Spring League, playing corner and strong safety for the Aviators, proving to be a key part of the special teams squad.
- Brayden Patton, IOL (C), Northern Illinois (Round 20, Pick 9, Comp. Pick 1)
Patton joins the USFL straight from the college ranks, eschewing a potential UDFA path in the NFL or CFL to have a chance at being the starting center for the Pittsburgh Maulers.
Patton was a four-year starter in his six-year career at NIU, with 39 starts at center and both interior guard positions. The Huskies were an excellent running team in Patton’s time, with the 2020 and 2021 seasons in particular highlighting the OL’s efficiency, as NIU posted 365.7 yards of total offense on average in 2020 and 428.7 yards the following season.
Patton won third-team all-MAC honors in 2020 and second-team all-MAC honors in 2021 for his efforts.
- Paul Nosworthy, IOL (G), Buffalo (Round 23, Pick 3)
Nosworthy started 25 games at left guard for the Buffalo Bulls in his three-year career after transferring in from Grambling State in 2016, immediately becoming a reliable contributor upon his arrival on campus in 11 appearances as a reserve lineman.
Nosworthy was along the line for some of Buffalo’s best offensive units, blocking for former MAC stars such as Jaret Patterson and Tyree Jackson in his time. Those lines were dominant, helping set program records for total rushing yards (3,256 in 2019), total rushing touchdowns (36 in 2018) and lowest season sack total (8 in 2019.) Nosworthy earned a second-team all-MAC selection in his senior season in 2019.
Nosworthy’s first and latest professional exposure was with the Generals of The Spring League in 2021.
- Reggie Howard, IDL, Toledo (Round 25, Pick 7)
Howard had 68 tackles in two seasons for the Toledo Rockets after transferring in from the JUCO ranks, with 20 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, four QB hurries and two forced fumbles. His best season was his last one in 2018, as he led the team in tackles-for-loss (15) and was second on the team in sacks (four.)
Howard has already had a very fascinating professional career, initially signing with the Los Angeles Chargers as a undrafted free agent in 2019 before transitioning to the XFL in 2020 as a member of the LA Wildcats. Howard’s most recent professional stop was in the Indoor Football League, with the then-expansion Massachusetts Pirates franchise.
- Terry Myrick, OLB, Eastern Michigan (Round 29, Pick 5)
Myrick was a three-year starter for the EMU defense from the hybrid linebacker position, proving himself to be one of the steadiest presences on the roster in that time. Myrick finished his career with 260 tackles in 54 games played over five seasons, with 17 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles. Myrick’s presence was especially felt in the six-game 2020 campaign, leading the team in tackles (67), tackles-for-loss (5.5) and fumble recoveries (two,) earning first-team all-MAC honors in the process.
Myrick joins the USFL straight out of the college ranks.
Compensatory (March 10)
- Kristijan Sokoli, OL/DE, Buffalo (Round 2, overall pick 13)
Sokoli had one of the more unique paths to the USFL, to say the least.
Sokoli, the Albanian native, played high school football in New Jersey, playing five (!!!) different positions along the way in all three phases, including offensive tackle, defensive end, tight end, placekicker and punter. When recruited to Buffalo, he settled into the defensive end rotation, alongside EDGE prospect (and future Pro Bowl linebacker) Khalil Mack.
Sokoli finished his Buffalo career with 95 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks and eight passes defensed. Sokoli has gone between the offensive and defensive lines in his pro career, with NFL stops in Seattle (where he became the first Albanian to play an NFL snap), Indianapolis, New Orleans and New York before signing on with the XFL’s DC Defenders and The Spring League’s Alphas.
His last professional experience was with the Potsdam Royals of Germany’s professional American football league— though he did have a side quest as an actor in-between.
- Nathan Holley, SAF/OLB, Kent State (Round 4, overall pick 26)
Nathan Holley comes to the USFL via the Canadian Football League, where he was released from the Toronto Argonauts due to a violation of the Violence Against Women Act linking back to a 2016 incident which prematurely ended his then-illustrious NCAA career. He was found not guilty of the charges, eventually graduating and continuing his football career.
Holley was a thumper in college, with 424 tackles, including 15 tackles-for-loss and three sacks. He led the conference in tackles in all three of his full seasons prior to 2016, with his 424 total tackles landing 12th all-time in the NCAA books and second all-time in the MAC.
He was picked up as an UDFA by the Minnesota Vikings before being released, later landing alongside his brother Nick with the Indoor Football League’s Nebraska Danger and the Los Angeles Rams. Holley found success on his own in the CFL with Calgary, winning 2019’s Most Outstanding Rookie award. With the CFL cancelled in 2020 due to COVID, Holley found a role with the Miami Dolphins, playing in parts of three games.
- Teo Redding, WR, Bowling Green (Round 8, overall pick 64)
Redding was a productive depth receiver on a BGSU team which transitioned from Dino Babers to Mike Jinks in the air-raid offensive gameplan, working alongside Roger Lewis and Gehrig Dieter, both of who were eventually NFL prospects.
As a depth option, Redding finished with 94 receptions, 1,328 yards and 14 touchdowns, with the majority of his production coming his senior year as a starting outside receiver.
Redding was signed by the Detroit Lions as a UDFA before being waived a few months later. He landed on practice squads for Washington and Green Bay before being released by Green Bay off his future/reserve contract in August 2019.
Redding would eventually find his way back into professional football via the New York Guardians of the XFL, before signing with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. He tore his ACL early, and was released from his contract.
Redding was meant to play with the Indoor Football League’s Massacheusetts Pirates this season after signing with the team in January, but will likely pursue his opportunity with Houston instead.