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XFL 2022 Draft Recap: Day One For The St. Louis Battlehawks

We have a team now, well almost a complete one. After months of waiting and 8.5 hours and technical difficulties the St. Louis Battlehawks drafted 42 young men to begin building a championship roster. A day after picking Ryan Willis and AJ McCarron to lead the franchise, the Battlehawks began putting together a group of players that have a great mix of experience form the AAF, USFL, NFL and XFL 2.0. While also a fresh group of prospects who are getting ready to participate in their first taste of professional football. Either way, fans of the Battlehawks continue to belt Ka-Kaw, as each player selected brought together a fuller picture of the team that will be representing our city come February 2023.


2nd Overall-Marcell Ateman Wide Receiver Oklahoma State

Coach Becht’s First Skill player is a big 6’4 receiver with NFL experience coming from the Big-12. Ateman earned all-conference honors in college, totaling 146 receptions for 2466 yards and 13 touchdowns during his college career. After four years with the Raiders and getting released during the Cardinals 2022 camp, Ateman brings the mentality of a professional, with the skillset that can really open up the Battlehawks offense.

15th Overall- Jamarcus Bradley Wide Receiver Louisiana-Lafayette

Bradley is another bigger receiver with NFL experience the Battlehawks were able to pick up. Earning All-Conference honors in college, Bradley became a UDFA in 2020, and managed to record nine receptions for 124 yards in parts of two seasons. Most recently Bradley was cut by the Browns in training camp of 2022.

Bradley 84 during his time in with the Browns

18th Overall- Jaylen Smith Tight End Louisville

An UDFA in 2019, Jaylen Smith fits that tweener of Wide Receiver and Tight End, like a poor man’s Darren Waller. Playing with Lamar Jackson at Louisville, Smith amassed 152 receptions for 2505 yards, and 15 touchdowns before bouncing around the NFL and CFL. Smith was actually selected by the Defenders in the XFL 2.0, however did not sign. Most recently Smith was a member of the Patriots Practice Squad in early January.

31st Overall- Mataeo Durant Running Back Duke

The All-ACC Running back gets his second shot at pro football, as the 22 year-old from Duke spent the 2022 summer with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Durant had a record setting career at Duke setting all-time single season rushing record. Durant shows great speed clocking a 4.4 40-yard dash, and good size at 6’1 195 lbs. Look for Durant to take the league by storm and possibly being playing on Sundays at the end of 2023.

34th Overall- Darrius Shepherd Wide Receiver North Dakota St.

A Kansas City Native, Shepherd has already spent time with six NFL franchises since coming out of the North Dakota State in 2019 undrafted. Prior to pro football, Shepherd earned three national championships at North Dakota State. Shepherd’s NFL career though short-lived resulted in him catching passes from Aaron Rodgers in 2019 and 2020. Shepherd really came into his own with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals recording 27 receptions, 323 Yards, and a Touchdown, helping the Generals make the USFL playoffs. Most recently Shepherd was released on October 11th, before joining his second spring league.

Shepherd during his time in 2022s USFL

47th Overall- Brian Hill Running Back Wyoming

Hill is another player local to the St. Louis area coming back home. Hill took an x2 All-Conference Career at Wyoming and became a 2017 5th Round Pick, Hill managed to spend five seasons in the NFL before spending part of 2022 with the BC Lions. Hill is still on the on the NFL radar as he recently worked out with the Cowboys earlier in November. Hill has amassed 982 Rushing Yards and 3 Touchdowns, during his time in the NFL.

50th Overall- Jordan Thomas Tight End Mississippi St.

The Battlehawks pick up another pro, who has spent the last 5 seasons in and around the NFL. The bulk of Thomas’ NFL production comes from his time with the Texans in 2018 and 2019. Overall, though not a dynamic pass catching Tight End, like a Darren Waller or Travis Kelce, Thomas managed to put together 22 Receptions, 226 Receiving Yards, and Five Touchdowns during his NFL career.

63rd Overall- Donteea Dye Wide Receiver Heidelberg

Dye has a pretty extensive resume, sporting NFL and Alt-League experience. Dye spent two seasons with the Bucs securing 11 receptions and 132 yards, before a three-year gap in employment led him to the AAF’s Orlando Apollos. Dye spent 2019 recording seven receptions for 133 yards in the AAF and even spent time with the XFL’s 2.0 Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020 appearing in three games however, not recording any stats. Since 2020, Dye has been out of football.

Dye 11 recording a reception vs the Salt Lake Stallions in 2019

66th Overall- Abdul Adams Running Back Syracuse

Adams, has had a long collegiate career spanning over six seasons between Oklahoma and Syracuse. Despite the longevity of his career Adams only amassed 1236 rushing yards over six seasons. Adams went undrafted in 2022 and had some interest from the Bills but still remains a pro football rookie coming into 2023 with the Battlehawks.

79th Overall- Jovani Haskins Tight End Rutgers

Haskins spent time at three colleges, before finishing up at Rutgers in 2021. Haskins amassed 37 receptions for 365 yards during college, which yielded an invite to the Carolina Panthers Rookie Mini-Camp. Haskins is also related to the late Dwayne Haskins who passed away during the summer of 2022.

82nd Overall- Austin Proehl Wide Receiver North Carolina

Seems inevitable right? The son of the Battlehawks Wide Reciever Coach and St. Louis Rams legend Ricky Proehl, Austin joins the Battlehawks after bouncing around the NFL upon the XFL 2.0 ceasing operations in 2020. Proehl recorded the first touchdown in the XFL 2.0 and put together a strong season of 16 receptions for 225 receiving yards and three touchdowns for the Seattle Dragons. Now, Proehl has the opportunity to be apart of the same field his father got to play on almost 25 years later.

Defensive Backs

3rd Overall- Ben DeLuca Safety UNC-Charlotte

DeLuca totaled almost 200 tackles at UNC-Charlotte before joining the Chargers in 2021. DeLuca, managed to appear in three games in during the 2021, season participating in 23 snaps on Special Teams and 1 snap on defense. DeLuca would unfortunately get released by the Chargers in 2022, and now will making his first appearance in the alt-league with the Battlehawks in the XFL 3.0.

14th Overall- Channing Stribling Cornerback Michigan

Stribling is a staple of the alt-leagues and has been a part of 12 Twelve teams spanning over Five Leagues since beginning his pro career in 2017. Stribling has always been considered a good corner in the alt-football world, however his 2022 season with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars really put him on the map. Stribling put together seven interceptions for 121 return yards, earning an All-USFL honors enroute to helping the Stars reach the USFL Championship. After a successful USFL season Stribling joined the Washington Commanders only to be cut August 24th. Stribling has also spent time in the AAF with the Memphis Express, and Seattle Dragons of XFL 2.0.

Stribling during his North Division Championship run with the Philadelphia Stars 2022

19th Overall- Quenton Meeks Cornerback Stanford

Coach Becht and Coach Abraham go back to the USFL well once again by drafting Quenton Meeks with their 3rd defensive back pick. Meeks has appeared in several NFL games recording 8 tackles, from 2018 to 2020. Meeks found himself in the USFL in 2022 recording 49 tackles for the Tampa Bay Bandits earning a contract with the New Orleans Saints before being released prior to the 2022 NFL regular season.

30th Overall- Brandon Sebastian Defensive Back Boston College

Sebastion is a versatile defensive back out of Boston College who was recently an UDFA with the Chargers in 2022. Despite a year of eligibility in school Sebastian ended up appearing in all three pre-season games in 2022 recording 12 tackles before being cut in late August.

35th Overall- Evan Fields Safety Arizona State

Fields totaled 27 starts in his five-year career at Arizona State. As a safety, Fields made 204 total tackles (8.5 for a loss) with four passes defended, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions during his time with the Sun Devils.  He would participate in a couple NFL workouts including the Cardinals in June, however, is now joining his first professional team by way of the St. Louis Battlehawks.

46th Overall- Elijah Hamilton Cornerback Louisiana Tech

Hamilton was a recent cut by the Dolphins during training camp 2022. Despite only starting three games in college, Hamilton’s versatility allowed him opportunity to showcase his talents in the NFL, and now the XFL with St. Louis.

51st Overall- Jonathan Alexander Safety UNC-Charlotte

Alexander is another true rookie, who’s going to make his debut in pro football via the XFL. Alexander spent time at Kansas State and UNC-Charlotte, recording 82 tackles in 20 games before becoming an undrafted free agent with the Bears. Alexander would be cut in August and has been a free agent until getting drafted by the Battlehawks.

62nd Overall- D’Angelo Ross Cornerback New Mexico

Despite not being invited to the NFL Combine in 2019, Ross wowed the Patriots staff by posting a 4.32 40-yard dash at his pro day. Ross, though viewed as a raw prospect, spent three years on and off the Patriots Practice Squad before getting cut by the Dolphins during the 2022 pre-season.

67th Overall- Luka Denis Defensive Back Boston College

Denis comes to the XFL 3.0 by way of the IFL’s Massachusetts Pirates. After spending four years at Boston College, appearing in 40 games. During his career, he had 139 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one half-sack, forced three fumbles, and notched nine interceptions. Before his time with the Pirates Denis was in camp with the Bucs during the summer.

78th Overall- Tareke Lewis Cornerback Utah

Lewis played 18 games for Utah across 2018-19. Recorded 32 total tackles, 8 passes defended, and 1 INT. After going Undrafted in 2020, the former Ute/JuCo player now gets his first opportunity to show case his skills at the professional level.

83rd Overall- Mike Hampton South Florida

Hamptons an All-AAC from South Florida, whose has spent the parts of last year in the CFL. Despite being with the Blue Bombers, over parts of the last couple years Hampton has yet to appear in a professional football game.

Defensive Front Seven

6th Overall- Lakiem Williams Linebacker Syracuse

Williams is a JuCo prospect who ended up finishing his career at Syracuse. Williams has bounced around the CFL and NFL, signing contracts with the Ottawa Redblacks as well as being with the practice squads of the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. Most recently he was cut by the Hawks in August of 22.

11th Overall- Emeke Egbule Linebacker Houston

Another player with a bit of a resume Egbule was a part of the Chargers for three seasons before getting cut in 2022. After getting drafted in 2019 during the 6th round, Egbule appeared in 32 games from 2019-2021 and recorded 13 tackles during his career.

22nd Overall- Willie Harvey Linebacker Iowa State

Harvey was an All-Conference Linebacker at Iowa State before joining the Browns in 2019. Harvey would appear in four games over his NFL career before getting waived in training camp of 2022.

27th Overall- LaCale London Defensive Linemen Western Illinois

LaCale London comes from Western Illinois and managed to spend almost two seasons with the Bears before getting cut in August of 2022. After spending all of 2020 on the Bears practice squad, before appearing in a game in 2021 for the Chicago franchise. Before his NFL career, London was an All-Conference player in the FCS division.

38th Overall- Kevin Atkins Defensive Linemen Fresno State

After spending five years at Fresno State Atkins totaled 141 tackles and 16.5 sacks before going undrafted in 2022. After spending some time with the 49ers over the summer of 2022. Since then, Atkins has taken part of some workouts with NFL teams but remained unsigned till being drafted by the Battlehawks.

43rd Overall- Drew Singleton Linebacker Rutgers

SIngleton was with Michigan for couple years, before transferring to Rutgers. After declaring for the draft Singleton tried to go back to school after going undrafted. Singleton was denied an extra year of eligibility due to an NCAA rule, and now is one of three players from Rutgers on the Battlehawks roster.

54th Overall- Elorm Lumor Defensive Linemen Towson

Lumor comes to the Battlehawks after spending his collegiate career at Rutgers and Towson. While a hybrid pass rusher at Towson, Lumor is making his pro debut with the Battlehawks like many on this team.

59th Overall- Gelen Robinson Defensive Linemen Purdue

Coming from Purdue, Robinson is the son of former NBA All-Star and Champion Glenn Robinson who played 11 seasons in the NBA. Robinson himself has carved himself a nice pro career prior to the Battlehawks, after earning All-Confernece honors at Purdue. Robinson has had stints with the San Diego Fleet, and Dallas Renegades starting in all 13 possible games of the previous Alt-Football leagues. Robinson is a physical run stuffer and extremely athletic as most recently he’s been with playing rugby with the LA Giltinis.

70th Overall- Mike Rose Linebacker Iowa State

Another Iowa State Linebacker, Rose was left college with numerous awards however went undrafted coming into 2022. Despite a strong camp, Rose was viewed as a bit of a liability in the run defense, Rose’s Strength in the pass coverage make him an absolute asset for against teams in a spread offense. Rose recently was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs during August of 2022.

75th Overall- Seth Walter Defensive Linemen Dartmouth

An Ivy-league prospect, Walter appeared in 22 college games totaled 40 tackles, 10 for loss, 4 sacks, and 1 forced fumble, earning All-Ivy Honors while in college.

86th Overall- Phil Campbell Linebacker Pittsburgh

Originally a Rutgers commit, Campbell came to Pitt and recorded 209 tackles through five seasons. Though listed as a Linebacker, Campbell does have experience at Safety as well and should be viewed as possible option as a coverage linebacker for the Battlehawks.

Offensive Linemen

7th Overall- Jaryd Jones-Smith Offensive Tackle Pittsburgh

The Battlehawks begin the Offensive Linemen portion of the draft by selecting Jaryd Jones-Smith, a 6’7 Tackle with AAF and NFL experience. Jones-Smith started 7 out of 8 AAF games and has played in seven NFL games over parts of the last two seasons. Most recently, Jones-Smith was cut from the Baltimore Ravens in late August of 2022. The drafting of Jaryd Jones-Smith is another connection to AAF, as Coach Becht, and DPP Dave Boller both were apart of the AAF’s San Diego Fleet franchise.

SAN ANTONIO TEXAS MARCH 23 Jaryd Jones Smith 72 of San Antonio Commanders takes the field during player introductions before the start of the Alliance of American Football game against the Salt Lake Stallions at Alamodome on March 23 2019 in San Antonio Texas Photo by Ronald CortesAAFGetty Images

10th Overall- Shane Carpenter Louisiana Tech

Carpenter was a reserve Offensive Linemen for the Bulldogs while at school from 2015-2018. The 6-6 linemen never started over five games in a season while college before going undrafted in 2019. Despite a less than notable college career Carpenter managed to spend time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and The Spring League Alphas prior to joining the Battlehawks.

23rd Overall- Steven Gonzalez Offensive Guard Penn State

Gonzalez spent four seasons at Penn State before going undrafted in 2020. The former Nittany Lion spent parts of training camp with the Cardinals and Bills and was even a part of the 2022 USFL draft pool however was not selected.

26th Overall- Jay Williams Offensive Tackle Florida A&M

Williams comes to the XFL with four college programs and eleven collegiate starts over six seasons. After starting at San Diego State, Williams went Grossmont Junior College, before going to Florida State, only appearing in four games over two seasons for the Seminoles. Williams would finish his career at Florida A&M before being a lesser-known prospect coming out of college. Due to his raw talent and size, Williams has the potential to be a nice surprise for the Battlehawks come 2023.

39th Overall- Jon Toth Center Kentucky

After leaving Kentucky as an Undrafted Free Agent Toth bounced around with the Eagles and Jets before landing an opportunity in the XFL 2.0. Toth started five games for the Commanders in 2020 and would eventually earn an opportunity with the Washington Football Team in 2021 only to get cut a couple weeks ago, after appearing in six games over two seasons.

WASHINGTON DC MARCH 8 Jon Toth 64 of the DC Defenders focuses before the XFL game against the St Louis BattleHawks at Audi Field on March 8 2020 in Washington DC Photo by Shawn HubbardXFL via Getty Images

42nd Overall- Tison Gray Offensive Tackle South Carolina St

Gray has spent the last couple seasons at South Carolina State before coming to the XFL. Appearing in nine games during the 2021 season, Gray now comes to the XFL with a limited amount of experience, however, will be a part of an Offensive Line group that has a great mix of NFL and Alt-League experience.

55th Overall- Daishawn Dixon Guard San Diego St

Dixon joins his seconds Alt-league after spending a couple weeks with the Michigan Panthers of the USFL in 2022. An alumnus of the HUB Football camp, Dixion came from San Diego State and adds a 6’6 330 lb frame to the interior of the Battlehawks offensive line. Dixion has also had stints with the Ravens and a try-out with the Packers.

Dixon at Right Guard during his time with the Michigan Panthers in the USFL 2022

58th Overall- Bryce Foxworth Offensive Guard Southern Miss

Big Fox is getting his first opportunity in pro football after playing in 44 games at Southern Miss. Foxworth is a big guard at 6’3, 320 was crucial in Southern Miss’s dynamic passing attack in Conference USA.

71st Overall- Christian Olmstead Offensive Linemen Findlay

Olmstead is a D-II prospect from Findlay, who was All-Conference linemen prior to the XFL. Olmstead has had stints with the Montreal Alouettes but was also a part of Brian Woods’ Spring league playing with Battlehawks QB Ryan Willis during their Championship run in 2021 to the Megabowl.

Closing Thoughts:

Day one is officially in the books and while on paper I’m excited to see what the Battlehawks put on the field come February ultimately this team is far from complete. With Day Two’s open phase and a supplemental draft in January, the first wave of players that we’ve seen could be very different come XFL camp.

Regardless, the Battlehawks picked up some amazing pieces to mold a championship team. With a diverse group of true rookies, to dipping into the well of the AAF, XFL 2.0, and Spring League, the Battlehawks brought together a team of professionals that will not only be able to be good men on the field but also great leaders in the St. Louis community.

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Pat Rifino is a former Security Contractor turned writer. He began his writing career talking about geo-politics, and the defense industry. Now Pat writes about alt-league football, while hanging with his dogs in his off time.

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