Former Standout College QBs on Rosters for New Merged USFL, XFL League

Spring professional football leagues have become the norm in recent years, and 2024 brings yet another new iteration: the United Football League. The UFL was created after a merger between the XFL, which was relaunched in 2020, and the USFL, which relaunched in ’22. Four teams from each league will play in the new merged league.

These spring leagues, which began in earnest with the AAF in 2019, have regularly featured notable former college football players who didn’t carve out lasting NFL careers. The UFL is no different.

Each of the eight rosters feature three or four quarterbacks, many of whom were notable college players, including some who appeared in the NFL and have played in spring leagues over the last few years.

Here are 13 of those quarterbacks that many football fans will recognize. 

Arlington Renegades — Luis Perez (Southwestern College, Texas A&M Commerce)

Perez is an Arlington franchise icon already, after leading the team to the 2023 XFL championship, winning game MVP in a 35–26 win over the D.C. Defenders. A year earlier, he was one of the top QBs in the USFL with the New Jersey Generals. The Texas A&M Commerce grad led his alma mater to a Division II national championship in 2017. He also had cups of coffee with the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, and has played for a slew of teams in previous iterations of the XFL, USFL and now-defunct AAF. 

Arlington Renegades — Lindsey Scott (LSU, East Mississippi C.C., Missouri, Nicholls, Incarnate Word)

Scott had an unusual college career that took him to five different schools across seven seasons. After starting his career with a redshirt year at LSU in ’16, he made stops at East Mississippi Community College, Missouri, Nicholls and Incarnate Word, throwing for over 4,600 yards and 60 touchdowns for the Cardinals in his final college season in ’22.

Birmingham Stallions — Matt Corral (Ole Miss)

Corral was a second-team All-SEC player at Ole Miss, throwing for 8,281 yards and 57 touchdowns during his career. He was a third-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in ’22, but missed that entire season with a Lisfranc injury suffered in the preseason. He signed with the New England Patriots in ’23 but was released during the early portion of the season.

Adrian Martinez finished his college career with Kansas State after a long tenure at Nebraska. He is now playing in the UFL.

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Birmingham Stallions — Adrian Martinez (Nebraska, Kansas State)

Martinez was a stalwart at Nebraska, starting 38 games from 2018 to ’21 for the struggling Cornhuskers program before finishing his career at Kansas State, splitting time with Will Howard for the Big 12-champion Wildcats. Martinez finished his college career with 9,752 career passing yards, 51 passing touchdowns and another 45 scores on the ground.

D.C. Defenders — Deondre Francois (Florida State, Hampton)

Francois broke out as a redshirt freshman starter at Florida State in ’16, throwing for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, winning the ACC Rookie of the Year award. He was injured in the first game of the ’17 season, and after a down ’18 campaign, he was dismissed from the Seminoles program after his girlfriend posted a video to Instagram alleging abuse by the quarterback. He finished his college career at Hampton in ’19, and has played in the Fan Controlled Football League, The Spring League and the XFL since.

D.C. Defenders — Jordan Ta’amu (New Mexico Military Institute, Ole Miss)

Ta’amu joined Ole Miss in ’17 after two seasons at NMMI, initially backing up Shea Patterson. After Patterson’s transfer to Michigan, Ta’amu took advantage as starter in ’18, throwing for 3,918 yards with 19 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He’s had offseason/practice squad stints with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Lions, Washington Commanders, Panthers and Minnesota Vikings, and has played in the XFL and USFL.

Houston Roughnecks — Jarrett Guarantano (Tennessee, Washington State)

Guarantano played in four up-and-down seasons for the Volunteers, topping out in ’19, when he threw for 2,158 yards with 16 touchdown passes and eight interceptions in 13 games. He played in seven games the following season, eventually getting benched by the end of the season. Injuries derailed his graduate transfer year at Washington State after just two games. He had brief stints with the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos in ’22.

Michigan Panthers — Danny Etling (Purdue, LSU)

Before Joe Burrow parlayed a stint in the Big Ten into the starting job at LSU, Danny Etling made the same move… albeit, without quite the same level of success. The Boilermakers and Tigers quarterback threw for 7,076 yards, 43 touchdowns and 19 interceptions, leading his teams to an 18–17 record. A seventh-round pick in 2018, he won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots before bouncing around the NFL, suiting up for eight different franchises in some capacity.

Michigan Panthers — Brian Lewerke (Michigan State)

A three-year starter for the Spartans, Lewerke left the program as its career leader in all-purpose yardage with 9,548 yards from scrimmage. After going undrafted in ’20, he had brief stints with the Patriots and New York Giants, and played for the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons.

San Antonio Brahmas — Tom Flacco (Western Michigan, Rutgers, Towson)

The younger brother of Super Bowl champion and this year’s NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Joe Flacco, has had a fascinating career of his own. After stints as a backup at Western Michigan and a year in which he sat as a transfer at Rutgers, he made a similar move to one his brother made in college, transferring to the CAA to play at FCS Towson. He threw for over 6,000 yards, 49 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in two seasons starting for the Tigers, and later played baseball for the school. He briefly played professional football in the CFL, returning to Delaware to coach in ’22. Now, he’s set to return as a player in the UFL this spring.

San Antonio Brahmas — Chase Garbers (Cal)

After redshirting in ’17, Garbers enjoyed a successful four-year stint as starter at Cal, quarterbacking the team to a 19–14 record with 6,580 career passing yards, 50 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He spent parts of the ’22 and ’23 seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders.

A.J. McCarron is back with the St. Louis Battlehawks after winning the XFL’s regular-season MVP award with the franchise a year ago.

Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Battlehawks — A.J. McCarron (Alabama)

Undoubtedly the star of the UFL in its first season after the merger, McCarron is set for his second stint with the Battlehawks after starring for the team in ’23 and winning league MVP honors. 

McCarron is best known for his back-to-back BCS national championships under Nick Saban at Alabama. He went on to enjoy a solid career as an NFL backup with the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Raiders, Texans and Falcons, appearing in 19 total games. 

In ’23, McCarron threw for 2,150 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions in nine games, making headlines after leading the Battlehawks to back-to-back comeback wins. He would return to the NFL after that XFL season, as backup for the Bengals for a second time, but is back playing in the spring in ’24.

St. Louis Battlehawks — Brandon Silvers (Troy)

Fans of Sun Belt football should remember Silvers, who started 48 games for the Trojans from 2014 to ’17. After a pair of losing seasons to start his college career, he led the program to a 21–5 total record in ’16 and ’17, earning first-team All-Sun Belt honors in ’16. Silvers finished with 10,677 career passing yards with 71 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. He had an offseason stint with the New York Jets and also has played in the AAF and XFL. 

St. Louis Battlehawks — Manny Wilkins (Arizona State)

Fans will remember Wilkins as the quarterback at Arizona State from 2015 to ’18. He started his final three seasons in Tempe, throwing for 8,624 yards, 52 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, adding 1,035 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. He spent time with the Green Bay Packers from 2019 to ’20, originally signing with the Battlehawks for the ’23 XFL season.

Here are the full quarterback rosters for this season’s eight UFL teams:

UFL play begins with Week 1 games on March 30 and 31.

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Title: Former Standout College QBs on Rosters for New Merged USFL, XFL League
Author: Dan Lyons

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