Quarterback Ben DiNucci and the Seattle Sea Dragons are on a 5-game winning streak. While there’ve been some issues with turnovers throughout the year, DiNucci’s shown he’s got one of the better arms in the XFL, and because of that, he’s leading the league in passing yards. If you’ve watched the broadcasts, you’ve likely heard the stories of DiNucci playing with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys before joining the Sea Dragons this year, but for those that aren’t familiar, let’s take a look at DiNucci’s career before his XFL Sea Dragons debut.
Pine-Richard High school
As a sophomore, Ben DiNucci became the starting quarterback at Pine-Richard High School in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. During his senior year, he’d become the first player in school history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season, leading his team to a 15-1 record and a state championship game appearance.
By the time he graduated, DiNucci had completed 548 of 809 passes for 7,619 yards and 72 touchdowns. He received the 2014–2015 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Pennsylvania, Second-Team USA TODAY All-American honor, Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class AAAA Player of the Year, and Pennsylvania Football News Class AAAA Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Initially, DiNucci planned to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania, but he de-committed to accept a football scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh. As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Ben DiNucci was a backup behind Nathan Peterman. In the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl, Peterman would go down with an injury late in the 3rd quarter, and DiNucci made his first appearance in the college ranks. Unfortunately, he’d complete only 3 of 9 passes for 16 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions, also taking 2 carries for 18 yards in the 31-24 loss to Northwestern University.
DiNucci was named the starter in Week 7 of the 2017 season after senior Max Browne went down with a season-ending right shoulder injury. He started 6 games in place of Browne before eventually getting beat out by true freshman Kenny Pickett. DiNucci finished the year completing 88 of 158 passes for 1,091 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. After the season, he announced he’d be transferring to James Madison University for his Junior year.
James Madison University
In 2018, Ben DiNucci started all 13 games at James Madison University, completing 211 of 309 passes for 2,275 yards, 16 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, also racking up 433 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. He earned third-team All-CAA honors after the season.
As a senior, DiNucci started all 16 games for JMU, completing 268 of 378 attempts for 3,441 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions, also running for 569 yards and 7 touchdowns on 122 carries. He led the Dukes to the FCS Championship Game, where the team lost to North Dakota State University.
After the season, he’d earn All-CAA honors, CAA Offensive Player of the Year, and AFCA First-Team All-American honors. DiNucci finished his career at JMU ranked 3rd in completions (479), 4th in passing touchdowns (45), 4th in passing yards (5,716), and 7th in total offensive yards (6,718).
Ben DiNucci was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft and made his NFL debut in relief of Andy Dalton against the Arizona Cardinals. He’d again play in relief of Dalton against the Washington Football Team after Dalton suffered a concussion.
DiNucci’s first career start came on Sunday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles due to Andy Dalton still being in concussion protocol. He completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards, lost two fumbles, and was sacked 4 times. The Cowboys lost 29-3 after failing to score a touchdown for the second straight game. Garrett Gilbert got the start over DiNucci for the remainder of the season, and DiNucci was later waived by the Cowboys at the end of August 2022.
Seattle Sea Dragons
DiNucci joined the Seattle Sea Dragons in the first phase of the XFL’s 2023 Draft alongside Seattle’s backup quarterback Steven Montez. DiNucci is one of only three quarterbacks in the XFL to have played in regular season NFL games, the other two being Battlehawks quarterback AJ McCarron and Vipers quarterback Brett Hundley.
As previously mentioned, DiNucci currently leads the XFL in passing yards, and while turnovers have been an issue throughout the year, he’s making a solid case to find his way back onto an NFL squad. However, for now, DiNucci’s focus is on winning games with the Sea Dragons in hopes of winning this iteration of the XFL’s first championship.
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