On the first day of 2023, XFL teams continued to build their rosters with the help of a supplemental draft. For the Houston Roughnecks, eight new men were welcomed and given a chance to compete in training camp. Nine more were also acquired as free agents after this draft, bringing the total of players covered in this article to 17. While the supplemental draft and free agent additions are generally viewed to have slimmer chances of making the final roster, it is yet another opportunity for the league to discover hidden gems, and Houston made sure they didn’t miss anyone.
Round 1, Pick 8: Will Likely, CB, Maryland
One of several Maryland players listed on the Roughnecks roster (thanks to the coaching connection), Likely is coming off a fantastic season in the USFL. While playing for the Houston Gamblers, he racked up four interceptions, ranking third in the league. Likely was also featured as a punt and kick returner. Prior to his breakout campaign in the USFL, he had stops with the New England Patriots, two CFL teams (Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats) and The Spring League (TSL) Jousters. Likely also made a brief appearance in XFL 2.0 with the DC Defenders.
Round 2, Pick 9: Derick Roberson, LB/DE, Sam Houston State
Roberson had a hyper-productive Senior season at Sam Houston State in 2018, recording 15 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. He signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2019, and would go on to spend three years with the team. The peak of his pro career so far is a two-sack game against the New Orleans Saints as a rookie. Prior to the 2022 season, he signed with the Houston Texans, and was listed as a member of the practice squad until early November.
Round 3, Pick 24: Emmanuel Ellerbee, LB, Rice
Ellerbee, a Houston native, spent his entire football career in the city before becoming a NFL player. Now, he returns to where it all began, looking to prove his worth. Ellerbee had close to 300 total tackles while playing for the Rice Owls, including back-to-back seasons with 110+. After going undrafted in 2018, Ellerbee has had stops with the Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, and Houston Texans. Most recently, he had a second stint with the Atlanta Falcons back in 2021.
Round 4, Pick 25: John Yarbrough, OL, Richmond
Yarbrough established himself as an extremely versatile lineman in the FCS, playing at three different spots (center, right guard, right tackle). He went on to sign with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2019, and remained with the team through the preseason. He later joined the Tampa Bay Vipers of XFL 2.0, before making his way up to the CFL (Hamilton Tiger-Cats) for the 2021 season. Most recently, Yarbrough was a member of the Houston Gamblers of the USFL, paving the way for one of the leagues’ top rushing attacks. He will be reunited with USFL teammate Will Likely.
Round 5, Pick 40: Sean Davis, FS, Maryland
Davis is one of the most seasoned veterans on this Roughnecks team, being selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and going on to play six seasons in the league. His best year was arguably in 2017, when he started all 16 games for Pittsburgh, recording 92 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions. After getting injured in 2019 and not being re-signed, Davis started to bounce around various practice squads before being out of the NFL entirely by 2022. Now, at 29 years old, this could be the last legitimate chance Davis gets in his football career.
Round 6, Pick 41: Sewo Olonilua, FB, TCU
Although fullbacks are becoming increasingly rare as time goes on, Olonilua could still carve out a role given the design of the Roughnecks offense (assuming he lasts through training camp). Any TCU fan may remember Olonilua for his performance in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl, setting a program record for rushing yards in a bowl game (194). He went undrafted in 2020, but signed with the Dallas Cowboys and appeared in a handful of games that season. Prior to 2021, he was replaced with another fullback in Ryan Nall.
Round 7, Pick 55: James Stanley, TE/OL, Hampton
James Stanley was used primarily as a blocking tight end during his time at HBCU Hampton University, which makes a lot of sense given his hefty frame (6’5”, 270 lbs). Stanley was part of the last draft class in 2022, making him a relatively fresh prospect for the XFL to develop. If he makes it onto the Roughnecks’ final roster, Stanley projects more as an undersized offensive lineman than a true tight end given the system, and is currently listed as such per the XFL website.
Round 8, Pick 56: Antonio Nunn, WR, Buffalo
Nunn was a former All-MAC selection known for his deep ball abilities, recording several outings with over 100 yards in college. He was signed by the Atlanta Falcons following the 2021 NFL draft, and was most recently a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL.
Tevin Floyd, ILB, The Citadel
Floyd was a three-sport athlete in high school, and went on to play football at The Citadel for four seasons. During his time at The Citadel, he came up just shy of 300 career tackles, ranking third all-time in program history. After going undrafted in 2017, Floyd signed with the Arizona Cardinals, and later appeared in a handful of games for the Montreal Alouettes (CFL) in 2019.
Kyle Fourtenbary, TE, Northern Iowa
There was a time when Fourtenbary was considered a candidate for the John Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in college football each year. He spent his first three seasons at Western Kentucky, then transferred to Northern Iowa for his last two seasons. Fourtenbary’s most successful season came in 2019, his last as a Hilltopper. He was not selected in the 2022 NFL draft.
Kenneth George, CB, Tennessee
George spent four seasons playing for the Tennessee Volunteers (2018-2021) after transferring from Trinity Valley Community College. He only played a full season once, but flashed great potential, landing him a UDFA deal with the local Tennessee Titans in 2022. The XFL is a perfect spot for someone like George to continue developing, since his chances have been limited over the years.
Jake Herslow, WR, Houston
After a lackluster three seasons at Old Dominion where he primarily played on special teams, Herslow ended up at the University of Houston and walked on to the football team, which proved to be the best decision he could have made. In 2021, his sole season with the program, Herslow ranked third in both catches and receiving yards, as well as second in receiving touchdowns with five. After arriving with almost no credibility, Herslow made his own “Cinderella story” and was pivotal in Houston’s offensive success. The quick turnaround landed him a UDFA deal with the Seattle Seahawks in 2022, and he will now look to further boost his stock in the XFL.
Ulric Jones, DL, South Carolina
Jones can be labeled as a veteran in the alt. football community at this stage in his career, having played football in both outdoor and indoor settings. Originally coming out of South Carolina in 2018, Jones had brief stops with both the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, then played for the Birmingham Iron of the AAF in 2019. In 2020, he was listed on the St. Louis BattleHawks roster of XFL 2.0. Most of his success has come in recent years, becoming the top defensive lineman in the National Arena League (NAL) with the Columbus Lions. He most recently played for the Northern Arizona Wranglers of the Indoor Football League (IFL). Once again, the IFL/XFL partnership plays a role in this opportunity.
Antwon Kincade, S, Western Kentucky
Kincade had variable production over five seasons with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, but showed steady improvement through the last three years (2019-2021). He finished his collegiate career as the defensive MVP at the Boca Raton Bowl, and also crossed the 100-tackle milestone for the first time during that same season (Senior). Kincade signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2022.
Dejoun Lee, RB, Delaware
Despite being only 5”7” tall and weighing in at 185 pounds, Lee proved to be a two-way player for the Delaware Blue Hens on offense and special teams. While his numbers at running back were respectable, he really shined as a kick returner in the earlier stages of his college career, finishing up with 1,456 yards and a touchdown in the category. He signed a UDFA deal with the Washington Commanders in 2022.
Shaquille Morris, OT, Wichita State
Morris will be playing football for the first time in the XFL, with all of his previous athletic experience being basketball-related. The 6’8” center spent five seasons at Wichita State, and went on to play pro basketball in Japan for three different teams. The Roughnecks have listed Morris as an offensive tackle, although his overall build is more comparable to a tight end. Out of all the “projects” the team is working on, this may be the biggest and boldest one, but there has clearly been talent demonstrated even if the odds are stacked against him.
Scean Mustin, DT, Sam Houston State
Mustin is a relatively typical interior defensive lineman, standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 325 pounds. He recorded 12 sacks and 17 tackles for loss over the course of four collegiate seasons, but perhaps his most impressive stat was blocking two kicks on special teams. Assuming he lasts into the regular season, Mustin will be reunited with former teammate Derick Roberson, who he played with for a single year in 2018.
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