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UFL 2024 Preview: Betting Odds, Coaches, Important Players

Spring football will return Saturday with the opening weekend of the United Football League (UFL), the merger of the XFL and the USFL.The league will kick off its inaugural season this Saturday with the reigning USFL champion Birmingham Stallions taking on the reigning XFL champion Arlington Renegades.

The merger between the two spring leagues should improve and make the product more accessible for fans to follow. With a combined 16 teams across the two leagues from 2023 condensed to eight in the merger, rosters should be more deep and talented. 

Here's your cheat sheet with the necessary notes to know about each UFL team.

USFL Conference

Birmingham Stallions

Coach: Skip Holtz

2023 Record: 8-2, league champion

The Stallions lost quarterback Alex McGough, the 2023 USFL MVP, but replaced him with Matt Corral, a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Injuries and alleged character issues complicated his short-lived NFL career. The former Ole Miss Rebel is one of the most exciting names to watch this season. 

The Stallions' roster includes many players like Corral, promising NFL prospects who fell from glory, including wide receivers Amari Rodgers and Gary Jennings, defensive end Taco Charlton, and tight end Jace Sternberger.

Holtz was a longtime head coach in college football and has been with the Stallions since 2022.

Houston Roughnecks 

Coach: Curtis Johnson

2023 Record: 7-3, lost in division finals

DraftKings' Championship Odds: +650, 5th

The Roughnecks' roster might not be the most flashy, but it is one of the deepest in the league. Jarrett Guarantano, who played at Tennessee and Washington State, was named the team's starting quarterback for week 1. Last year, running back Mark Thomspon led the team. He was named the USFL Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,118 yards and 16 touchdowns. Thompson suffered a knee injury during training camp but should return in a few weeks.

The Roughnecks were coached by longtime NFL defensive coordinator Wade Philips last year, who is now coaching the San Antonio Brahmas. His replacement, Curtis Johnson, has been in coaching since 1984, most notably as Tulane's head coach from 2012-'15.

Memphis Showboats

2023 Record: 5-5, missed playoffs

The Showboats selected quarterback Case Cookus as one of the more popular names in the league dispersal draft. Last year for the Philadelphia Stars, Cookus threw for 2,295 yards, 15 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. The Showboats added 2022 All-USFL running back Darius Victor in the dispersal draft.

DeFillippo replaced Todd Hayley as head coach. He has an impressive resume as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including 14 years in the NFL.

Michigan Panthers

Coach: Mike Nolan

2023 Record: 4-6, lost division finals

The Panthers added a good amount of playmakers this offseason, most notably running back Wes Hills, who was the USFL's leading rusher in 2023. Michigan's starting quarterback will be E.J. Perry, who started one game for the Panthers in 2023. 

Nolan returns for his second year as the Panthers' head coach and his 41st year in coaching. He has had eight different stints as an NFL defensive coordinator and was the San Francisco 49ers' head coach from 2005-'08.

XFL Conference

Arlington Renegades

Coach: Bob Stoops

2023 Record: 4-6, won championship

The reigning XFL champions will look to defend the title in 2024. Arlington was able to return quarterback Luis Perez, who was traded to the Renegades from the Vipers early last season. In 2023, he threw for 1,630 yards, nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Like Houston, Arlington doesn't have many names that jump off the page, but its roster has some impressive depth.

Stoops is arguably the most popular coach in the UFL. The longtime Oklahoma coach was the Renegades' head coach in the XFL's short run in 2020 and 2023.

D.C. Defenders

Coach: Reggie Barlow

2023 Record: 9-1, lost championship

The Defenders scored the highest offense in the XFL in 2023, averaging 29.8 points per game. They could return standout quarterback Jordan Ta'amu, but 2023's league-leading rusher Abram Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp. The Defenders' defense, however, was near the bottom of the XFL in 2023. To sure up the group, they added edge rusher Trent Harris in the first round of the league dispersal draft. The defense also includes former first-round NFL Draft picks Gareon Conley and Deandre Baker in the secondary.

Barlow is one of the league's less experienced head coaches, but he still brings solid experience into his second year as the Defenders' head coach. He was named the XFL Coach of the Year in 2023.

San Antonio Brahmas

Coach: Wade Philips

2023 Record: 3-7, missed playoffs

San Antonio looked to improve the offense after being one of the worst in the XFL in 2023, averaging 16.9 points per game. Former Las Vegas Raider Chase Garbers has been named the team's starting quarterback for Week 1 and has some exciting potential. The Brahmas, who averaged a league-low of 79.4 rush yards per game in 2023, signed running back Anthony McFarland. The former fourth-round pick spent the 2020-'23 seasons hopping from the Steelers' practice squad to the active roster. During his NFL career, he received 42 attempts, which he took for 146 yards.

In 2023, the legendary NFL receiver Hines Ward, the Brahmas coach, resigned from the team after the season, opening the door for Philips. The most experienced coach in the league, Philips brings over 50 years of coaching experience, most recently as the head coach of the XFL's Houston Roughnecks in 2023. 

St. Louis Battlehawks

Coach: Anthony Becht

2023 Record: 7-3, missed playoffs

The Battlehawks and their fans felt spited last season when they missed the playoffs despite being tied for the second-best record in the league. St. Louis is poised to be one of the top teams in the league in 2024, with reigning XFL MVP A.J. McCarron returning to the team after spending part of the 2023 NFL season on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad. The NFL veteran has some of the best playmakers in the league, with Hakeem Butler, Darrius Shepherd, Marcell Ateman, and Wayne Gallman in the backfield. St. Louis had an explosive offense in 2023 and will look to improve defensively.

Becht is the league's least experienced coach, as the Battlehawks are only the second stop in his coaching career. He was a tight end in the NFL for 12 years and played for the St. Louis Rams in 2008. In 2019, he was the tight ends coach for the San Diego Fleet in the AAF and returned to coaching in 2023 for the Battlehawks. 

Cover Image via: Sam Greenwood, Getty Images


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