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The Pony Express

The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

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The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

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A Guide To The UFL

Spring Football has been a roller coaster of emotions for the past 4 years. The XFL started in 2001 by Vince McMahon trying to capitalize off football after the NFL season was over. It only lasted 1 season due to it not being very popular. The XFL attempted to reignite the flame in 2020, but they were quickly shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2023, they finally were able to get the league up and running, with many positive reviews. The Saint Louis Battle Hawks were the most viewed team in the league, averaging 35,104 people in attendance. That set the record for the most views for a spring football league ever. But this is not the only spring football league there was. 

Meet the other half of the UFL, the USFL. Starting in 1982, the USFL had had a historic run, stealing players from the NFL draft quite often, players like Hershal Walker, Reggie White, Jim Kelly and many more legends. After a couple of seasons, they attempted to move their games during the NFL season, which did not work out too well, causing the league to go defunct. Then in 2022 the USFL came back to mainstream media with many mixed reviews. 

In 2024, both the USFL and the XFL decided to merge into one big league called the UFL. There are eight teams currently in the UFL, those being the San Antonio Brahmas, St. Louis BattleHawks, Michigan Panthers, Memphis Showboats, Houston Roughnecks, DC Defenders, Birmingham Stallions and the Arlington Renegades. Those eight teams are split into 2 conferences, the USFL and XFL. The USFL holds the Michigan Panthers, Memphis Showboats, Houston Roughnecks and the Birmingham Stallions. The XFL holds the San Antonio Brahmas, St. Louis BattleHawks, DC Defenders and the Arlington Renegades.  

The UFL has been the home to some current NFL players and is currently the home of some ex-NFL players. Let’s see 5 players who made it to the NFL from the UFL, and 5 who were in the NFL and are currently in the UFL plus an honorable mention. We cannot do UFL players that went to the NFL though due to this being the first year of it existing.   

 Starting with 5 players that went to the NFL, we have Dallas Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubry. He started out with the Stallions winning the USFL championship and winning the special teams player of the year award. The Cowboys decided to add him to the roster. In his rookie season, he broke the NFL record for most field goals made in a row in a single season, having a 91% field goal percentage (36/38).  

Next on the list is yet again another Cowboy, Kavonte Turpin. He plays Wide Receiver and is mainly used as a return specialist. During his stint in the USFL, he won USFL MVP and dominated the whole season.  

Next up we have another Stallion on the list, Alex McGough USFL MVP during the USFL’s 2nd season. He won the championship with the Stallions twice and was the passing leader for a season. He currently plays for the Green Bay Packers with limited use. The Arizona Cardinals picked up Kaden Davis from the USFL. He had a very disappointing season having 83 yards receiving and 333 return yards. The Cardinals signed him to a futures contract set on January 8th, 2024. The brother of Sammy Watkins, Austin Watkins played in the USFL on the Stallions, winning the championship with them. He has not accomplished much in the NFL though.  

Next on the list we have the 5 players that went from the NFL to the UFL. First on the list we have Matt Corral who has had a very interesting football career so far. Being a 3rd round draft pick in 2022 by the Carolina Panthers. He never got the chance to start in the NFL, being cut just before the 2023-2024 season. He found a starting roster spot in the UFL on the Stallions. He is hoping to keep his career alive in the UFL. 

 Next up we have Ruben Foster, a first round linebacker who quickly fizzled out of the league. He had high hopes going into the 2017 draft but was charged with multiple misdemeanor drug charges and a weapons charge, getting him cut from the NFL. He then played with the now defunct Pittsburg Maulers of the USFL. He now plays for the Houston Roughnecks. 

 Now we have one of the best UFL players, A.J McCarron. He bounced around the NFL after being drafted by the Bengals. He started his first year with the Battle Hawks while they were in the XFL. After the merger, he stayed and played his 2nd season with the Battle Hawks. 

 Marquette King is definitely one of the coolest guys on this list, starting out in the NFL as the Raiders starting punter; he had a sense of style to his play. He was always dancing or getting into opposing players’ faces when he punted the ball. He was released by the Broncos after an injury. He is currently playing for the Arlington Renegades and is a top punter in the UFL. 

 The second Battle Hawk on this list is Marcell Ateman. Actively catching passes from another player on this list, he has had an up and down career in the NFL being drafted by the Raiders and from there just bouncing from team to team. Although, while on the Raiders, he caught passes from his current quarterback, A.J McCarron.  

Now for our honorable mention, Donald De La Haye. He started out playing for UCF, having a almost perfect kicking stat. After starting to do YouTube, the NCAA who didn’t allow players to make NIL (Name image and likeness) money, he was told to either demonetize his channel, or he would be removed from the NCAA rosters. He saw what he had when it came to YouTube and chose to leave college football behind. After gaining much success from his YouTube career, he felt like he wanted something more. He worked and worked, even making it into a series on his YouTube page, wanting to go to the NFL. His first step to get there was the UFL. Although in his 2nd career start, he made a tackle and fractured his neck, leaving him out for 5 weeks. 

The UFL has much potential to fill the hole left in most NFL fans hearts after the NFL season ends. The UFL has had a lot of recent success with some of the rule changes, the play styles, and how a lot of the players seem to have a deep love for the sport. This league has captured lighting in a bottle with the timing and the good action packed football; this could help those fans who are looking for their football fix.  

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