Out of the ashes of the XFL 2.0 and the United States Football League (USFL), the United Football League rises.
The new spring football league is a merger of the two former spring leagues, keeping three teams from the USFL and five from the XFL to create a new eight-team league which is set to start play in early March 2024. The new league retained four USFL head coaches and four XFL coaches.
The divisions and head coaches are as follows:
- Arlington Renegades: Bob Stoops
- D.C. Defenders: Reggie Barlow
- San Antonio Brahmas: Wade Phillips
- St. Louis Battlehawks: Anthony Becht
- Birmingham Stallions: Skip Holtz
- Houston Roughnecks: Curtis Johnson
- Memphis Showboats: John DeFilippo
- Michigan Panthers: Mike Nolan
On January 5th, the league had its Dispersal Draft and 11 former MAC players from six different schools were assigned to four different teams. They’ll have the opportunity to continue and/or revive their careers.
It’s still an unlikely road to go from a spring league to the NFL, but a chance is all that a player can ask for.
Below, we outline those lucky few to get a second chance.
Tuzar Skipper, LB, Toledo
A Rocket from 2016-2018, Skipper transferred to Toledo from Monroe College (JUCO) after two years of second-team all-conference play. At Toledo, Skipper appeared in 24 games, 13 of which in his final season. In total, he recorded 90 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, and even scored a touchdown.
After Toledo, Skipper went undrafted and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. From 2019-2022, he was waived and signed seven times between five teams (he was signed and waived by the Steelers three times). In that time, he appeared in 10 games while making two starts in 2020. He finished with eight tackles.
Skipper was also drafted by the Seattle Dragons of the rebooted XFL, accounting for 20 tackles and six sacks. After the season, he was traded to the Arlington Renegades prior to the league folding. The team elected to bring him back for 2024.
Reggie Howard, Jr., DT, Toledo
The Houston Roughnecks do love themselves some Battle of I-75, and Reggie Howard, Jr. is the lone Toledo representative. Howard was at Toledo for two years from 2017-18 after spending three years at Fort Scott Community College (JUCO). In those two years, Howard appeared in 23 games and recorded 68 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and two fumbles.
He did not appear in any NFL games, though he was briefly with the Los Angeles Chargers.
In 2020, he was part of the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL. There, he appeared in four games, accounting for seven tackles and an interception.
Howard found his way to the USFL after that, spending time with the Tampa Bay Bandits and later the New Orleans Breakers. He remained with New Orleans for the 2023 season. In total, Howard amassed 50 tackles and 6.5 sacks while in the USFL.
Jack Kramer, OC, Bowling Green
A product of the Falcons, Jack Kramer was a long-time resident of Bowling Green, Ohio. By the time he left town, Kramer was a fifth-year senior who appeared in 42 games, starting 32. He earned third-team All-MAC honors in 2018.
In 2023, Kramer started 10 games for the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers.
Teo Redding, WR, Bowling Green
A stud receiver from Bowling Green, Teo Redding spent five years with the Falcons. He ended up appearing in 44 games (19 starts) for Bowling Green and improved his stats each and every year. When it was all said and done, Redding ended up with 1,328 yards and 14 touchdowns off of 94 receptions.
Redding initially signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions in 2018. Over the next year, he was waived, signed with Washington’s NFL team, waived, signed with the Green Bay Packers, and waived again. In that time, he did not appear in an NFL game.
Redding signed with the XFL’s New York Guardians in their reboot season, appearing in five games with one start. There, he hauled in eight catches for 102 yards. When the XFL folded, he signed with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League but suffered an early injury and did not play during the season.
Redding found a home in the USFL in 2022 with the Houston Gamblers, where he’s spent each of the last two springs. In that time, he appeared in 17 games with 16 starts and accounted for 405 yards and a score off of 30 receptions.
Jakari Robinson, OG, Bowling Green
One of the more recent grads making his way to the UFL, Jakari Robinson was Bowling Green’s starting guard in his lone season in 2022. Prior to that, he spent time with Memphis (one year) and Cincinnati (four years). He appeared in 46 games in that time including 10 for Bowling Green.
Last year, after not getting a call from the NFL, Robinson had a brief stint with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL before being cut.
St. Louis BattleHawks
Nico Bolden, DB, Kent State
A prolific Kent State defensive back is on his way to St. Louis after missing all of 2023 due to injury. Before coming to Kent State, Bolden spent three years with New Mexico State where he appeared in 12 games. In those three years, he accounted for 47 tackles, two TFLs, and three forced fumbles. Then, he transferred to Kent State for his final two seasons.
At Kent State, Bolden made 188 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, a sack, two interceptions, broke up three passes, forced two fumbles, and recovered one.
He initially signed with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent but was eventually injury-waived and missed all of 2023. He’ll look for a fresh start in St. Louis.
James Bostic, WR, Ohio
The lone Bobcat in the newly-formed UFL is none other than James Bostic. Before his two years (2021-22) at Ohio, Bostic spent four years at Vanderbilt. There, he amassed just 124 yards off of 12 receptions in 18 games. Then, at Ohio, he broke out in his final year to the tune of 607 yards and his lone touchdown.
Last year, Bostic was drafted by the St. Louis Battlehawks as part of the XFL and was retained when the UFL formed.
San Antonio Brahmas
Nick Holley, WR/QB/HB, Kent State
The all-around athlete from Kent State is on his way to south Texas.
Nick Holley did just about everything for the Flashes. In his first four years, Holley was both a receiver and a running back and recorded 1,569 yards and 13 touchowns off of 354 rushing attempts while adding 47 receptions for 380 yards and five touchdowns.
Starting in his fourth year, Holley switched to quarterback in addition to his running back duties. In two years at quarterback, he appeared in 14 games and managed 974 yards and six touchdowns.
Then, after his time was up, he spend some time with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. After being out of the game in 2019, Holley signed with the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks in 2020. There, he broke out for 267 yards and two touchdowns off of 21 receptions. In 2021, he went north to the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL and recorded 10 catches for 105 yards.
Last year, he spent time with two XFL teams. The first five games were with the Houston Roughnecks where he managed 47 yards and a score off of six catches. Then, he went for 145 yards and eight catches in two games with the San Antonio Brahmas, where he will return in 2024.
Luke Juriga, OT, Western Michigan
One of the more decorated former MAC players in the UFL, Luke Juriga is set to be a solid addition to the Brahmas squad. In his time, Juriga started a whopping 52 games over his final four seasons. His first three years were at guard before transitioning to center in his final year.
At Western Michigan, Juriga was a two-time first-team All-MAC selection and was even voted as the team’s Offensive Player of the Year as a senior.
After his time at WMU, Juriga was selected to the Shrine Bowl and was later signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent. With Philadelphia, Juriga appeared in 13 games.
Michael Kennedy, LB, Northern Illinois
A life-long Huskie who played in DeKalb for five years, Michael Kennedy became a trusted contributor in his final two seasons at Northern Illinois.
Kennedy broke out in 2021 for 44 tackles, four TFLs, a sack, and a pass breakup. In 2022, he followed up with an additional 32 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks.
He went undrafted and decided to play for the Green Bay Blizzard in the Indoor Football League. Kennedy appeared in just one game.
Marvin Pierre, LB, Kent State
Marvin Pierre made an impact in his two years at Kent State back in 2021 and 2022, presenting himself as one of the most intriguing athletes in the MAC during his stay. Prior to his arrival, Pierre attended Fort Scott Community College (JUCO) for a year, Butler Community College (JUCO) for a year, and then Murray State (FCS) for a year.
As a member of the Flashes, Pierre notched a total of 149 tackles, 11 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a recovered fumble, two pass breakups, and a pick-six.
After Kent State, Pierre was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals. He was waived, and then signed by the Green Bay Packers before subsequently being waived there as well.
The UFL has announced it will be holding a Phase 2 Super Draft on January 15th, so more former MAC players could get their shot in the newly-formed spring league.
The UFL season is set to kick off with the Arlington Renegades facing off against the Birmingham Stallions on March 30th, pitting the reigning champs of each league against one another.