XFL fans are counting down the days until the return of the league in February 2023. Preparations are underway by all the eight teams involved to ensure they have a strong roster that is ready to compete for the championship next year.
Here is a look back at three players who used the XFL to springboard their careers and now looking to shine in the 2022/23 NFL season.
P.J. Walker (Carolina Panthers)
During the 2020 XFL season, quarterback P.J. Walker was one of the standout players in the league. He was named the Star of the Week on his debut for the Houston Roughnecks, after scoring four passing touchdowns in a 37-17 success over the Los Angeles Wildcats.
Panthers signing former XFL QB P.J. Walker. (via @RapSheet + @TomPelissero) pic.twitter.com/r4eXIQedN0— NFL (@NFL) March 23, 2020
Walker ended the inaugural season of the XFL with a 5-0 record. He had 15 touchdowns and 1,338 passing yards. It led to the Carolina Panthers signing him in March 2020, a move which saw him reunite with Matt Rhule, who he played for in college football at Temple.
The Panthers QB has featured in nine NFL games since signing for Carolina. He is 2-0 in games he has started, with victories coming over the Detroit Lions (2020) and Arizona Cardinals (2021).
Walker finds himself as the backup to Baker Mayfield this season in Carolina. The franchise traded for the former Cleveland Browns first overall pick earlier this year. He will be hoping to get a chance to prove himself as a start before the campaign ends.
Walker and the Panthers may get a lot of support from fans who physically come to their matches, but they may need more from the locals overall. As this article on sports streaming shows, football is the most popular sport in the US for streaming interest. However, unlike the majority of the country, basketball tops the standings in North Carolina where the Panthers play. With a strong offense this year which includes Walker, Mayfield, and the explosive running back Christian McCaffrey, it will be interesting to see if that changes in the near future.
Storm Norton (Los Angeles Chargers)
Offensive tackle Storm Norton was selected first overall by the Los Angeles Wildcats in the second phase of the 2020 XFL Draft. During the shortened season, he was ranked as the highest-rated offensive lineman in the league.
#BoltUp ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/CK8UkK6bEy— Storm Norton (@stormnorton74) April 11, 2020
Norton signed for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020. He should expect to get the chance to prove himself this season in his side’s offensive line as the AFC West team has been hit with injuries. He is likely to start at right tackle in Brandon Staley’s team.
The Chargers OT is playing in an exciting team that has Super Bowl aspirations this season. If he can impress in this latest opportunity in the starting line-up, he could be hard to drop when players return from injury.
Donald Parham (Los Angeles Chargers)
Tight end Donald Parham featured for the Dallas Renegades in 2020. He showed what he was capable of when he brought down a touchdown against the Los Angeles Wildcats in his second game in the league.
Parham now plays his football with the Chargers in L.A. He has been a regular starter with the franchise since joining them in 2020, scoring six touchdowns and recording 349 receiving yards.
The Chargers’ number 89 will be competing with Gerald Everett and Tre’ McKitty for playing time as the starting TE in 2022. Whoever does make it onto the field will enjoy catching passing from talented QB Justin Herbert.
Hopefully, all three of the above players go on to have great seasons and prove that the XFL can have a big positive impact on a career in professional football.
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