United Football League players you may know ahead of first season

United Football League players you may know ahead of first season

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The United Football League’s first season since the USFL and XFL merger will kick off Saturday with the champions from both leagues — the Birmingham Stallions and Arlington Renegades — squaring off to usher in a new era of spring football.

Four teams from the USFL and four teams from the XFL joined to form the new league, which was announced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia. A dispersal draft was held for the teams that were left out, and those players scattered to new teams.

There are still plenty of players that may catch fans’ eyes as the year begins.

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Read below for notable names on UFL rosters to start the 2024 season.

A.J. McCarron, St. Louis Battlehawks

A.J. McCarron of the St Louis Battlehawks reacts to a play against the D.C. Defenders during the first half of an XFL game at Audi Field March 5, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

A.J. McCarron took the XFL by storm last season. He became the star of the league as he led the team to two comeback victories. He then went viral for revealing why he decided to play in the XFL over offers from NFL teams.

“My 6-year-old loves watching tape of me on YouTube. That’s a big reason I chose to return this way,” McCarron said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

“I probably could’ve tried to come back with an NFL team and had a chance to probably make bigger money, but no one knows what the future holds. I’m enjoying this, and it’s a great way to create some memories for me and my boys.”

While it wasn’t a given he would return to the Battlehawks over concerns about pay, he decided to re-sign with the team last month.

Darius Victor, Memphis Showboats

Darius Victor in USFL

Darius Victor (27) of the New Jersey Generals runs the ball during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Maulers at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium June 17, 2023, in Canton, Ohio. (Jason Miller/USFL/Getty Images for USFL)

If you watched the USFL religiously, you know Darius Victor was one of the most prolific running backs over the last two seasons for the New Jersey Generals. But with the Generals left out of the UFL, Victor needed a new home.

He found that home with the Memphis Showboats.

He joined the Showboats as the 2022 USFL Offensive Player of the Year and was on the inaugural All-USFL team. Last season, he had four touchdowns and over 500 rushing yards.

He gets to showcase his skills once again.

Davin Bellamy, D.C. Defenders

Davin Bellamy in the XFL championship

Davin Bellamy of the D.C. Defenders after failing to make a sack on Luis Perez of the Arlington Renegades (not in frame) during the first half of the XFL Championship at the Alamodome May 13 2023, in San Antonio.  (Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

Davin Bellamy has been around the NFL block, appearing on the practice squads of several teams over the course of his professional career. But he has become a fixture in spring football.

Bellamy starred with the New Orleans Breakers in the first season of the USFL, recording 5½ sacks and 40 tackles. He was also the first Defensive Player of the Week and was named to the All-USFL team.

He didn’t stick with the Breakers and decided to head to the XFL’s D.C. Defenders, where he had another 5½-sack season in 2023.

He’s back with the Defenders and is looking to make an impact once again.

Jarrett Guarantano, Houston Roughnecks

Jarrett Guarantano in NFL preseason

Jarrett Guarantano of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Aug. 27, 2022, in Nashville.  (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

There are several notable quarterbacks who are on UFL rosters to start the season, and former Tennessee and Washington State standout Jarrett Guarantano is among them.

Guarantano’s career with Tennessee was rocky, but he did manage to throw for 2,158 yards and 16 touchdown passes in 2019 and 1,112 yards with six touchdown passes in 2020, which was shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He was never able to stick with an NFL roster, but if SEC fans tune in this week, they will see him slinging the pill for the Houston Roughnecks. He was named the starting quarterback, and Houston takes on the Memphis Showboats Sunday afternoon.

NFL GREAT KURT WARNER TOUTS IMPORTANCE OF UNITED FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Mark Thompson, Houston Roughnecks

Mark Thompson in the USFL

Mark Thompson (7) of the Houston Gamblers rushes for a touchdown during the third quarter of a game against the New Orleans Breakers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium June 18, 2023, in Memphis. (Justin Ford/USFL/Getty Images for USFL)

It was unclear at first whether Mark Thompson would rejoin the Houston team in the offseason. The 2023 Offensive Player of the Year decided in mid-December to return to the team in a bit of a shocker.

He will lead the Roughnecks in the backfield but will start the year banged up. Houston coach Curtis Johnson said Thompson was dealing with a knee sprain, and there was no timetable for his return.

The running game will have to dig deep to make sure it gets off to a good start.

Matt Corral, Birmingham Stallions

Matt Corral smiles

Matt Corral of the Carolina Panthers attends Carolina Panthers training camp at Wofford College on July 27, 2023, in Spartanburg, S.C. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Matt Corral was a standout quarterback at Ole Miss and was a third-round selection of the Carolina Panthers in 2022. However, a Lisfranc injury in preseason that year put him on season-ending injured reserve, and he was eventually waived before the start of 2023.

The New England Patriots picked him up in August 2023, but he unexpectedly left the facility and failed to report for two days. He was later released.

Corral will get a fresh start with the Birmingham Stallions this season. The Stallions won back-to-back USFL championships and have a loaded QB room with Adrian Martinez and J’Mar Smith in addition to Corral.

Vic Beasley, Arlington Renegades

For Atlanta Falcons fans, Vic Beasley is a household name. 

He was the No. 8 overall pick in 2015, starting every game for the defense. He then was a standout player in his second season in the NFL, earning a Pro Bowl nod after leading the league with 15½ sacks.

Atlanta, however, chose not to re-sign him after the 2019 season. He joined the Tennessee Titans on a one-year deal but was waived in the middle of the season. He finished the year with the Las Vegas Raiders.

He played for the Vegas Vipers of the XFL last season, and the Arlington Renegades selected him in the dispersal draft. Now, he’ll have a chance to go after Stallions players in the first game of this season.

He had 15 total tackles and one-half sack last year.

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Wayne Gallman with the BattleHawks

Wayne Gallman of the St. Louis Battlehawks poses for a portrait March 7, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Fox Sports/UFL/Getty Images)

Wayne Gallman, St. Louis Battlehawks

Running back Wayne Gallman made 14 starts in the NFL before he decided to take some time away from football. All of those starts came as a member of the New York Giants. In 2020, he rushed for 682 yards and two touchdowns.

But the former Clemson Tigers standout didn’t find the same success in 2021 when he split time with the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons.

This weekend, he finds himself back in football with the St. Louis Battlehawks. He’s on the roster along with running backs Mateo Durant and Jacob Saylors.

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