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The Spring League

The Spring League 2020: Aviators Soaring High With Expectations

Many football fans are looking forward to some Tuesday and Wednesday football with The Spring League kicking off on Tuesday, but the Aviators’ roster shows some promise.

Football fans starving for more football can’t help but be excited for the new season from The Spring League. Six teams are set to kick off on Tuesday with the hopes of creating enough game tape to make a run for the NFL. For some players, it’s all about playing the game they truly love once again.

With the NFL season at the midpoint of their season, The Spring League is about to begin their roughly one month journey into the spotlight on FS1. One of those teams looking to take the TSL title will be the Aviators, formerly the Hughes.

Many could argue that the Aviators are one of the most talented rosters in the TSL entering San Antonio. There is experience at many positions on the roster that could make the difference for the team. Other TSL teams should be on the lookout for this team as they should be considered one of the best rosters on the team.

Aviators 2020 Season Preview

Head Coach: Terry Shea

Photo from thespringleague.com

Terry Shea may be a known name among football fanatics due to his 36 years of coaching in the college and pro ranks. Shea has been a head coach in Division 1 college football twice with San Jose State and Rutgers. He combined for a 26-50-2 record in seven seasons during the ’90s.

Shea has a history with The Spring League and their CEO Brian Woods. After spending two seasons as offensive coordinator for the UFL, Woods brought Shea to coach the Boston Brawlers and the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League in 2014 and 2015. Since 2017, Shea has helped develop and coach players in the TSL.

Shea has coached in the NFL, college football, and other alternative pro football leagues. The experience is there for players looking to develop their skills. Shea was a no brainer for the league to have coach one of their teams and should do a good job pushing the Aviators through the next four weeks.

Offense Led By Experience at Quarterback

Photo via Twitter @TheSpringLeague

Disclaimer: Players mentioned on this roster may or may not be playing in the TSL as changes are subject to happen.

After spending some time establishing himself as a CFL star quarterback, McLeod Bethel-Thompson returned to the states in the hopes of coming back to the NFL. He will now be one of the two signal-callers for the Aviators. He threw for 4,024 yards and 26 touchdown passes in 18 games with the Toronto Argonauts last season.

The running back position shows flexibility in talent. De’Veon Smith was one of the leading rushers in the XFL with the Tampa Bay Vipers. If he indeed plays in the TSL, the Aviators already have the best backfield in the league. Romar Morris has talent, but Achillies’ injuries the last two seasons have prevented him from earning playing time. Devwah Whaley wasn’t an explosive runner at Arkansas but should be able to convert on tough yardage for the Aviators.

While the Aviators’ receiving core is undersized, the speed on the team should be their focal point for this season. Mathew Sexton is the most established of the group recording 1335 yards and nine touchdowns in four seasons at Eastern Michigan. Kent Shelby II will be their red zone target being at 6’3″. Tight end Nick Truesdell is another former XFL player who might be the most talented tight end and receiver in the league. His size and strong hands make him a dangerous target in goal-line situations.

The offensive line will season Austin Capps in the most likely position of taking over the center position. Division one linemen Abdul Beecham and Kenny Thomas should command the inside of the offensive line at guard.

Defense Powers From Strong Front Seven

Photo from Twitter via @TheSpringLeague

Two players that stick out from the defensive line for the Aviators: David Gilbert and Eurndraus Bryant. Gilbert was a pass rusher for Wisconsin and Miami during college that included 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks in five seasons. Bryant will plug the middle of the defensive line after recording 2.5 sacks in his last season at NC State in 2018.

Tau Lotulelei’s family has a history of strong defensive players that includes NFL defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Tau racked up 117 total tackles in 2016 with UNLV. XFL linebacker Jerimiah Spicer returns to the gridiron as one of the most experienced linebackers in the unit. Another XFL player Ty Schwab joins after recording seven tackles and one sack with the Houston Roughnecks last season.

JoJo McIntosh leads a secondary who is young, but McIntosh was previously in the NFL for a short time with Washington. 2018, Jordan George recorded 70 tackles in 2018 for Akron. DaShaun has had his share of professional experience playing in both the CFL and NFL throughout his young football career.

Special Teams Gets Help Internationally

Photo by Katsuya Yamamoto/The Japan Times

Toshiki Sato is considered to be the best kicker in Japan as he plays on U.S. soil after working out with former NFL kicker Nick Novak. His smooth approach and strong leg should give him enough good tape to get him a try in the NFL. Clark Riedel will be leading punting duties as while he doesn’t have the strongest leg, his accuracy makes him dangerous pinning teams inside the 20.

Final Analysis

Offense along should be the strength of this team. The passing game will be looked at as a key with Truesdell proving to be the pass-catching tight end the NFL is looking for. TSL teams should look out for the Aviators to step up as one of the top teams in the league. While much is unknown about this team, Bethel-Thompson should lead an offense who puts up plenty of points.

Anthony Miller is a credential reporter and writer for XFL NewsHub. Anthony writes about the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles, and sports video games for multiple outlets. He's also the host of the football podcast "Beyond the Pigskin" which airs episodes every Wednesday at 7 pm CST. Follow Anthony and his show on Twitter @antmill40 and @BeyondPigskin.

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