I have spoken about the potential of the FCF becoming a de facto feeder league for the XFL since the showcases began. A large group of Fan Controlled Football players went to showcases hoping to make the XFL the next step in their climb to the NFL.
There was no telling how legitimately these players were being considered other than those that got draft invites. Using this factor alone it became apparent the XFL coaches and scouts seemed to like what they saw in the talent the FCF held.
Eleven players have Robert Ford current Guardians offensive coordinator who spent time with the FCF as a wide receivers coach.
By the time the draft wrapped up Thursday Afternoon, a total of 15 FCF players had been selected. There was one team however that stood above the rest when it came to their level of investment on former FCF stars. That team of course is the Orlando Guardians.
The Guardians roster may as well be the Season 2.0 FCF All-Star team. Deondre Francois was the first FCF player selected by an XFL team getting assigned on Tuesday. Francois seemed to get his wish fairly quickly being reunited with his number 1 receiver in his first season in the FCF. This pair helped lead the Glacier Boyz to the first ever People’s Championship.
Skill Position Players
On Wednesday it didn’t take long for Orlando to revisit the FCF talent pool. In round 2 they selected Andrew Jamiel of the Glacier Boyz. Jamiel and Francois are certainly familiar with each other and that should help these two adjust to the outdoor game quickly. This pre-developed chemistry is important to teams when you’re building from scratch. This is a big reason we saw Arlington pair Kyle Sloter and Sal Cannella together once again.
In round 9 of the skill positions, they again tapped the FCF well for a wideout. This time selecting wide receiver Patrick Smith from Tennessee State. Smith is a 5’11 195 lb former QB who made the move to receiver in college. Smith was used in many ways in 2022. He attempted 2 passes, completing 1 for 25 yards.
He ran 3 times for 22 yards, and added 17 receptions for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns adding five two point conversions. Highly productive in college with 160 touches for 2,582 yards and 32 touchdowns in 31 games. He adds value on special teams, with 7 tackles, and 38 total returns for 374 yards and 1 touchdown.
In the secondary we find two more players. DB’s Mike Lee and Roman Tatum were both selected.
Lee is a 25 year old safety that was second in the league in tackles with 41. He also produced 5 interceptions. Hailing from the University of Kansas he was a four year starter. He would collect 286 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, 5 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 3 passes deflected.
Tatum wasn’t able to do much in season 2.0. He picked up 4 tackles. However the 28 year old cornerback is a talented cover man. Spent 2 years at Delaware before he got charged with assault and dismissed. In 16 games at Southern Illinois University he produced 13 tipped passes and 1 interception. He also happened to spend the 2020 season with the XFL’s LA Wildcats. He returns to the XFL this time on the opposite coast after a short stint with the FCF’s “Shut Down Squad”.
The offensive line has two players that spent time in the FCF last season. The offensive linemen and defensive units are asked to play two games each weekend. These units play for two different teams in the same day of games. This makes for highly conditioned linemen, and defensive athletes coming from the FCF.
Kamalie Matthews was one of the top offensive linemen in the FCF last season. Playing for “The Trenchmen” in Season 2.0, Mathews established himself as a must have for the XFL in 2023. The 30 year old player is a Murray State Alumni. Matthews spent the 2020 season with the undefeated Roughnecks. After the XFL collapsed Mathews found a home in the FCF for two seasons. He now gets an opportunity to return to the XFL, albeit with a new team this time around. Can he recapture his undefeated ways in 2020 in Orlando?
Sunday Deng is a 25 year old rookie whose first pro season came in Season 2.0 with the FCF. Deng was the anchor of the offensive line unit “The Block Party”. Now he returns to the outdoor game and playing just one game a weekend for the XFL after spending a year playing two games each week. The 6’6 290 lb tackle will turn to the XFL right next to a veteran in Matthews that can help him continue to develop.
Tommy Auger an All FCF Tight End in season 2.0 was selected as the long snapper for the Guardians. However, the Guardians selected just one other tight end in the draft, instead opting to pick 8 wide outs. Auger is a former wide receiver that made the move to tight end. He developed into a very capable blocker as well as long snapper. Grouped in with the offensive line unit known as “The Force Field” he had a solid season and showcased his abilities as a blocker. Although he didn’t use his skills as a long snapper in the FCF, he has continued to work on long snapping to perfect his craft.
DB Lashard Durr has spent time with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, IFL’s Frisco Fighters and later the FCF as well. Durr was also involved in the 2020 XFL draft. He now returns outdoors for the first time in a few years.
OL Abram Holland spent season 2.0 with the Fan Controlled Football League. The New Mexico native is 30 years old but getting the opportunity to continue his playing career outdoors. Holland was no stranger to indoor football having spent time with the IFL’s Arizona Rattlers as well. Playing on the unit known as “The Wall” he lined up with fellow XFL player Jonathan Irazarry.
QB Mitch Kidd led the league in passing yards, and ended up one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He would compile 871 total yards 20 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. Kidd was no stranger to indoor football having previously spent time with the CIF’s Salina Liberty.
Summary of the Roster
On the surface many people will look at this roster as one of the weakest, and least deep in terms of previous experience. Most of these teams are built with outdoor football veterans. Guys who have tasted the NFL, and intend to use the XFL as their launching pad back to the big league. However, the Guardians looked to younger, and less proven players from the revolutionary new league launched just two seasons ago, the Fan Controlled Football League.
This league has done a tremendous job divvying up a mixture of former NFL stars, and current players trying to gain a foothold in professional sports. Several of these guys are former XFL 2020 players that landed in the FCF due to the timing of it’s launch. Launching in 2021, just about 1 calendar year after both the XFL, and AAF collapsed in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Robert Ford was instrumental in creating this bridge for the FCF players to cross right onto XFL rosters, thanks to his time with the league as a wide receivers coach. He saw that the FCF was not lacking in talent, and decided he needed to bring in guys he knew to build his offense.
He did this to perfection. Building out his offensive unit with a total of 2 quarterbacks, 2 wide receivers, 1 tight end, and 3 offensive linemen from the league he last knew. Congratulations to all the players getting this opportunity.
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