Bob Stoops cut his teeth as a defensive coach, and with the Renegades, he’ll be looking to instill the championship mentality that guided his success for 16 dominant years at Oklahoma. Former Oklahoma defensive assistant Chris Woods is serving as the DC here, and his unit will have to step up to the plate and keep up with their high volume offense.
It’s a tall order, but they have a lot of quality pieces in this squad, along with a few rising stars. Let’s take a look, position by position.
DE Frank Alexander (57) – The veteran of this DL group at age 30, Alexander is a former 4th round pick by the Carolina Panthers. He found a rotational role on their line, and logged 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks from 2012-2015.
DE Winston Craig (96) – After starting 52 games at Richmond, Craig spent time with the Eagles and Steelers in the NFL. We most recently saw him in the AAF, where he logged 2.5 sacks, 5 QB hits and a pass breakup with the San Antonio Commanders. Disruptive potential as a 3-technique.
DE Gelen Robinson (98) – Another disruptive prospect, he made 35 stops for a loss and 12.5 sacks at Purdue as a 4-year starter, then made an impact with the San Diego Fleet in the AAF. There, he had 5 TFL and 1.5 sacks. He’s Aaron Donald size at 6’1″, 283.
DT Tony Guerad (93) – At 6’3″, 297, he’s stoutly built, and should anchor the middle of the line here. While he’s likely to fill a Nose Tackle role in this defense, he’s more than just a gap-stuffer. He had 7.5 sacks and 24 TFL at UCF.
DT Tomasi Laulile (91) – He’s slim for a DT at 6’4″, 285 pounds, but can make plays all over the line. He could be suited for a 3-tech spot and had 6 sacks and 10 TFL at BYU.
OB Hau’oli Kikaha (44) – He’s the star of this defense. He was nothing short of dominant his senior year at Washington, putting up 19 Sacks, 26 TFL and 3 forced fumbles. He went to the New Orleans Saints in the 2nd Round of the 2015 NFL Draft, where he had 8 QB takedowns and 4 forced fumbles in just two years of play. A nagging ankle injury ended his time in the Superdome, but at just 27 years old he’s set to make a huge comeback in the XFL.
OB Jonathan Calvin (59) – He’s previously played at DE with the Packers and Colts, but it’s likely he’ll have his hand in the dirt a lot in the 3-4 here. He has good explosion off the line as a pass rusher at his size (6’3″, 272) and had 12 TFL and 7 sacks his senior year at Mississippi State.
OB James Folston (55) – He played DL at Pitt, but is better suited at linebacker. He had decent production in college and signed on with the Green Bay Packers in 2019. In limited preseason snaps, he notched 2 tackles and a sack vs the Kansas City Chiefs.
OB Tobenna Okeke (47) – Had good production at Fresno State (11 sacks, 19.5 tfl), played with the Tennessee Titans and Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. Has some pass rush moves, and could be valuable in rotation.
LB Tre Watson (40) – Watson wins with instinct and was effective in college in coverage and vs the run. He had 2 100-tackle seasons in college, and picked off 5 passes his senior year. At 6’2″, 235, he has ideal size for an off-ball linebacker and compensates for his average athleticism with good technique and field awareness. He made a splash with the Miami Dolphins this preseason but didn’t make their final roster.
LB Asantay Brown (58) – He was prolific at Western Michigan, and in 4 seasons put up 309 tackles, 18 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 6 picks and 10 Passes Defensed. He has plus athleticism with a 4.59 40, and has spent the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
LB/LS Christian Kuntz (43) – The former Denver Bronco and Pittsburgh Steeler have added Long Snapper to his resume, but he’s a quality LB in his own right. In two years playing backer at Duquesne, he made plays all over the field, with 136 tackles, 50 TFL, 21.5 sacks, 4 INT, 12 PD, and 5 forced fumbles. He has a relentless motor, and though he doesn’t have top-end speed, he plays hard with a lot of strength and technique.
LB Tegray Scales (46) – The Indiana product has spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s another high-motor, technique guy who positions himself well and knows how to flow to the ball. He was prolific as a Hoosier, making 324 stops, 46 TFL, 17 Sacks and 8 Interceptions, and can do it all.
LB Reshard Cliett (50) – After solid production as a piece of South Florida’s defense, he was a 6th Round Pick by the Houston Texans in 2015. He has elite physical tools, with a 6’2″, 225-pound frame, a 4.4 40 and 38.5in vertical. He’s a pursuit linebacker who can play in coverage off-ball, and brings some top-end speed and instincts to this defense.
LB Ray Ray Davison (51) – The California product brings great athleticism to the table. He was able to produce at all levels of the field with 174 tackles, 10 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 picks and 8 PD with the Golden Bears. With 4.56 speed and two seasons experience with the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s a good piece here.
LB Greer Martini (48) – A 4-year starter and team captain with Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish, he went undrafted in 2018 after solid production (190 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 5 Sacks and 1 Int. He’s spent the past two offseasons with the Packers and Vikings.
CB Josh Hawkins (28) – A savvy vet who’s played for the Packers, Panthers, Chiefs, and Eagles, he’s perhaps the most experienced, and even most talented corner on the roster. He had 7 pass deflections and 43 tackles in Green Bay, and that starting NFL experience is key. With 4.39 speed, he can keep up with the XFL’s best and should lock down one of the starting spots here.
CB Josh Thornton (23) – The 27-year-old corner has been on the Lions, Ravens, Texans, Panthers, and Bills in recent years. He hasn’t seen the field much in the pros but had a fantastic senior year at Southern Utah with 3 picks and 11 pass breakups. He’s 5’11” with 4.42 speed, and could be a great option to cover outside.
CB Treston Decoud (24) – Decoud strikes me as a slot cover guy, as he’s equally skilled in coverage and run support. In 2 years at Oregon State, he made 108 tackles, 15 pass breakups, and 2 picks. He was a 5th round pick by the Houston Texans, and though he has a long 6’2″ frame, he’s on the back end of pro speed with a ~4.6 40. In the slot, his coverage and tackling skills will be put to best use, and he won’t be a liability on deep sideline routes.
CB Dashaun Phillips (41) – He did enough at small-school Tarleton State to find his way onto the Cowboys as a UDFA, then spent time with the Jets, Redskins, and Steelers. The 29-year-old vet has seen action with Washington in limited snaps and brings pro experience to the secondary.
CB Donatello Brown (26) – At 6 feet tall with a 4.51 40, he has the measurables. Brown did enough at Valdosta State to win attention, and eventually playing time with the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Legends.
S Derron Smith (31) – The Renegades first pick in the secondary draft phase, the 27-year-old safety is a bonafide ballhawk. While he contributed all over the field at Fresno State, he had 15 interceptions in his time there, and he should be a key factor in this secondary. Last spring, he flashed those skills, making 3 picks and 8 PD in the AAF with the San Antonio Commanders. Opposing QB’s will have to be wary of throwing his way.
S Micah Abernathy (21) – Abernathy has been making headlines all offseason and made plays all over camp. He’s effective both in the box, wrapping up ball carriers, and defending the back end of the field in coverage. The 6’0″, 203-pound safety also has elite speed and ran a 4.43 40 at his pro day.
S Doyin Jibowu (45) – The Denver native played college ball at Fort Hayes State, and he flexed a versatile skillset in 4 years of play there. He made 276 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 9 interceptions, and 35 pass breakups as a DB. He played some CB with the Chicago Bears, but slots into this secondary as a Free Safety.
S Tenny Adewusi (20) – The 22-year-old converted quarterback played with the New York Giants this offseason, and brings impressive coverage skills to the Renegades. He made 17 pass breakups during his time at Delaware, and the rangy DB has 4.51 speed to cover the back end of the field.
K Austin MacGinnis (8) – He went 9/11 with a long of 51 in the AAF last spring, and was all SEC with Kentucky in 2014. He made 102 of 104 XP in college and was 51 of 64 a 79.7% on Field Goals. At only 24, he’s one of the XFL’s younger Kickers but should fill the role nicely.
P Drew Galitz (2) – His 42.1 punting average in college is solid, and he adds value at kickoffs as well. He’ll have to adjust to the XFL’s new punting rules, that discourage coffin corners and touchbacks by placing those balls at the 35.
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