The XFL on Tuesday announced it had finalized coaching staff and other vital positions for its eight teams ahead of the League’s kickoff Saturday, February 18th, 2023, on ABC/ESPN.
Each coaching staff and team personnel department, in collaboration with the league office, will continue to actively scout and recruit potential players in preparation for the XFL Draft in November 2022 and begin game planning for the 2023 season.
The player recruitment and scouting process has been ongoing for a long time, and it’s been ramped up further by recent NFL cuts.
The XFL announced several prominent coaching and personnel hires earlier this year. But dozens of new names were revealed today. The league’s assistants are officially on payroll. Some of the more recent names were already reported at XFL New Hub months ago, and there are still a few others who haven’t been made official yet.
Such as Las Vegas offensive coordinator Duane Taylor, who will be finishing up the college season at Alabama A&M before joining Rod Woodson’s XFL Las Vegas staff.
Followers of college and NFL football will recognize many of the names now on board with XFL 3.0. Such as long-time NFL defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (DC). But supporters of spring pro football will notice the number of returning XFL coaches from 2020 and the number of prominent USFL 2022 coaches joining XFL teams. Ten in total have made the jump. As reported months back here, Cris Dishman has left his New Jersey Generals DC post to coordinate Rod Woodson’s defense in Las Vegas.
You can see a complete list of all eight teams’ football/team operations staff hires here.
Before looking at what comes next for the XFL in terms of announcements and news, let’s take an in-depth look at the football and operations staff for XFL Washington D.C.
XFL Washington D.C. Football & Operations Staff
Washington, D.C. head coach Reggie Barlow has a good variety of coaches on his staff.
On the one hand, Barlow is leaning on his FCS roots by reuniting with long-time offensive coordinator Fred Kaiss. On the other side of the coin, Barlow is going outside his comfort zone and has hired veteran coach Gregg Williams to be his defensive coordinator. These two essential hires were announced earlier this year. T
he latest addition is former standout NFL linebacker Jamie Sharper. He will be coaching special teams and LBs for D.C.
DC Offensive Coordinator/Running backs coach Fred Kaiss is not a household name for many casual football followers. But within the FCS realm, Kaiss is very well known. Reggie Barlow is extremely familiar with the coaching lifer’s resume spanning decades on that level, and Kaiss coached under Barlow at Alabama State.
Kaiss has had success as an offensive coordinator at Hampton University, Alcorn State, Alabama State, and Tennessee State for the last few decades plus. He’s also coached quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs during that duration.
Kaiss, a part of four national championship teams as a coach, began his collegiate coaching career in 1992 as the offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, and receivers coach at Morgan State.
No stranger to the SWAC, Kaiss was recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator at Southern (1993-96), helping the Jaguars win two Black College National titles (1993, 1995). He also was offensive coordinator/receivers coach at Alabama A&M (2000-01).
Over the years, Kaiss has consistently coordinated some of the top scoring and rushing teams on the FCS level. Many of his offenses over the years have averaged over 30 points per game and 200 yards rushing per contest.
In 2013, with Barlow as ASU head coach, the Hornets averaged 36 points and 430 yards per game. The Hornets were the top rushing team in the conference averaging 231.5 yards per game, ranking 14th in the nation among all Football Championship Series teams. The success on the ground led to RB Isaiah Crowell playing six years in the NFL.
Kaiss will undoubtedly have an open mind and eye on similar talented runners who have been overlooked in the NFL process and have slipped through the cracks.
As polarizing as DC Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams is to many, there’s no denying his body of work and resume.
Reggie Barlow, who has had plenty of success coaching in the college ranks, could’ve easily leaned on only coaches he has direct working experience with. And there are certainly some of those connections on his Washington staff. But in enticing Williams to join his team. The former NFL player Barlow is showing he can look outside his inner circle and identify quality candidates.
This is Reggie Barlow’s first foray as a head coach on the pro football level. So it’s vital he surrounds himself with a lieutenant on his staff that has been battle-tested, and that’s precisely what Gregg Williams has been.
The former NFL head coach and defensive play-caller should be an excellent asset for Barlow. Williams has vast NFL experience serving as the head coach of the Bills, interim head coach for the Browns, and defensive coordinator for eight different teams, most recently the New York Jets in 2020.
Former NFL player Von Hutchins might not have the GM experience of other Directors of Player Personnel in the XFL. Like former NFL executive of the year Randy Mueller in Seattle. But he’s developed a solid reputation in the scouting community.
Hutchins, a former NFL DB, has been in the scouting field since 2011. He has built a strong rep as a personable boots-on-the-ground type talent evaluator. Having worked with the Packers, Raiders, and the NFLPA.
Since 2019, Hutchins has been responsible for evaluating senior football prospects to construct the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl roster. It’s worth noting that 65 of the players who participated in the 2022 NFLPA game earlier this year have made NFL 53-player rosters and practice squads.
Interestingly, several of the XFL’s 2023 coaches coached in this year’s NFLPA game.
This is a giant leap and opportunity for Von Hutchins to effectively shape his own team roster in collaboration with Reggie Barlow and the DC staff.
Washington D.C. Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers coach Jamie Sharper certainly fits in with a familiar theme in XFL 2023. The league is loaded with former prominent NFL players turned coaches.
Jamie Sharper played nine years in the NFL, playing in 136 consecutive games. He was one of the more versatile defensive and special teams players in his era. He led the league in total combined tackles with the Houston Texans back in 2003. But Sharper is most known for his time as a starter on the Ravens’ historic 2000 defense that won Super Bowl XXV.
Sharper has ties to the DMV region. The Virginia native played with the Cavaliers and was drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens. In his post-playing career, Jamie Sharper joined the Georgetown football program in August 2018 as an assistant coach. He’s coached linebackers and the defensive line during his time there.
Sharper initially spent time as a scout with the Houston Texans when his playing career ended before transitioning to coaching, initially at the high school level. A few different XFL assistants will be pulling duty, coaching a position group, and coordinating special teams. Sharper will get to put his years of experience in both areas to the test in the XFL.
Washington D.C. Offensive Assistants
Quarterbacks coach Shannon Harris is teaming up again with Reggie Barlow after the two were recently together at Virginia State. Harris was Barlow’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Trojans, and he’s had extensive experience coaching up all aspects of the passing game in college.
Harris spent 16 seasons coaching football at the Division I level prior to VSU, including a three-year stint at Alcorn State University as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator from 2015-17. In 2017, Alcorn led the SWAC in both total offense with 461 yards per game and first downs with 241.
Harris starred as a quarterback at Tennesse State for the Tigers, earning the role of team captain and Most Valuable Player. He’s also spent time working in the Tennessee area with the Titans as a coaching intern.
Wide Receivers coach Alvance Robinson is one of the best smaller school position coaches. He most recently coached at Gardner-Webb. Prior to that, Robinson spent two seasons at Division II powerhouse West Florida, helping the Argos to the 2019 National Championship. The former All-SWAC WR at Alabama State had an excellent career playing indoor football. He starred for eight seasons in the Arena League before transitioning to coaching shortly thereafter.
Tight Ends Coach Cody Crills recently resigned from his position as offensive coordinator at Northwestern State to join the XFL. Like many of the assistants on DC’s staff, this is Crill’s first foray into pro football.
Cody Crills is coming off a successful four-season run as the offensive coordinator at the University of Incarnate Word. Last season, The Cardinals claimed the 2021 league title behind an offense that ranked second nationally in points per game (39.5) and third in yards per game (487.2). Crills is a long-time assistant, coaching on the FCS level. But he has also been a head coach.
Crill spent nine seasons at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, serving as their head coach in the final three years of his tenure. He led Navarro to a 19-11 mark in his three seasons as head coach and had a 97-24 overall mark in his nine seasons on staff, including winning the 2010 NJCAA national championship.
Offensive Line Coach Russ Ehrenfeld is a former offensive lineman himself at Chattanooga who has been coaching offensive lines in the college ranks since the late 1980s. Ehrenfeld most recently spent over a decade at Tennessee State, building a strong reputation in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Ehrenfeld has produced numerous professional linemen over the years, including four NFL draft picks in a two-year span. Kadeem Edwards and Demetrius Rhaney were taken in the 2014 NFL draft, while Robert Myers and Anthony Morris were selected in 2015. Lachavious Simmons was the latest TSU lineman drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2020. Simmons was recently released by the Bears at final cuts. He has started two NFL games. Perhaps he could be starting XFL games in the future for his former coach in D.C.
Washington D.C. Defensive Assistants
Defensive Line Coach Jeremy Watkins is joining Reggie Barlow from Virginia State. The fast-rising defensive assistant has made a strong impression rising up the coaching ranks. A former standout player at Alabama State, Watkins is getting a grand opportunity to work under a very experienced defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams.
Defensive Backs Coach Vernon Dean brings a wealth of experience as a player and coach. Dean spent seven seasons as an NFL cornerback with Washington (’82-87) and Seattle (’88). The former second-round pick out of San Diego State won two Super Bowls in the NFL. Before making his way into the coaching ranks.
Dean has coached on the NFL, collegiate, and high school levels for nearly two decades. He’s another assistant who also makes the trek to DC from Virginia State with Reggie Barlow. Dean was at VSU for the last six seasons as defensive coordinator and has also coaching defensive backs and linebackers.
Quality Control Coach Deion Harris also joins the DC staff from VSU. He is a former defensive lineman who helped coach the position as a grad assistant with the Trojans.
Quality control coaches always have one of the toughest jobs on any football staff. It’s where you earn your stripes as a young assistant. Coaching staffs in alternate pro leagues tend to be smaller. So Harris might be multi-tasking and serving several thankless roles on Barlow’s team.
Washington DC Operations Staff
Director of Team Operations Stacie Johnson: Full disclosure, sometimes it’s difficult to track down information on people you are not familiar with. Even when you attempt to reach out before a writing deadline.
Initially, Stacie Johnson’s LinkedIn profile gave the feel of someone who was a newcomer in this field. A Rutgers graduate with only the XFL listed as professional experience.
However, Johnson’s resume is vastly more extensive upon further inspection and inquiry.
Johnson’s worked in sports operations for several prominent pro and college teams. Including working as manager of operations and analytics with the Orlando Apollos in the AAF.
She was an operations assistant at her alma mater, Rutgers, during Greg Schiano and Kyle Flood’s head coaching stints with the football program. At Rutgers, Johnson also worked under legendary basketball Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer. Stacie was also an assistant to the head coach at the Cincinnati college basketball program.
Furthermore, Stacie Johnson has also been a football operations assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.
A DTO is a unique all-encompassing role for sports teams. They work directly with coaches, trainers, strength and conditioning staff, team security, and content teams.
DTOs are responsible for communicating league-level information to all players and coaching staff of their respective teams, etc. They also manage and coordinate logistics for all football-related activities, including team travel.
Admittedly, no one thinks of this position, or probably cares, when they focus on their favorite football teams. But every team needs someone of quality to fill these roles. Johnson is getting a great opportunity in the XFL, and based on her track record; the league is lucky to have her on the team.
Athletic Trainer: Chris Lacsamana
Equipment Manager: VanDyke Jones II
Video Manager: Caleb Studivant
Chris Lacsamana has most recently been an athletic trainer at the Universities of Michigan and Maryland. He is a Baltimore resident who has extensive experience over two decades in athletic training, drug testing, concussion studies, sports medicine, etc.
VanDyke Jones is a Virginia native and former Citadel RB who has been the equipment manager at Howard University and at Wofford for the last several years.
Caleb Studivant has been a video assistant with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and at Rice University. The Maryland grad got his start in the Terps video department.
XFL 2023 Update
There are several announcements that the XFL will be making in the coming weeks and months. For most fans, the forthcoming announcements will be a lot sexier than the assistant hires.
The league will be unveiling all eight of its team brands/names. Along with the team uniforms. As well as the TV schedule for the upcoming draft and the regular season on ABC/ESPN/FX.
Player signundoubtedly certainly garner a lot of interest. Particularly the quarterback position. As the XFL completes two more player she month of October. Both are in San Diego.
One is a specialist’s exclusive showcase orchestrated by veteran kicker and teacher Nick Novak. The other is a supplemental showcase run by ANC Combines for the hundreds of players on a long waiting list who missed out on the XFL’s first six showcases. The league worked out over 1,200 players during the summer.
Assistant coaches tend to lead an anonymous path where sometimes their work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. However, the assistants on each XFL staff will play an integral role in who plays in the league. A lot of the coaches named today have long-time ties to not only the head coaches they are working under. But also players who have played in the NFL, CFL, and other leagues the last few seasons.
Don’t be surprised if there are a lot of coach-to-player reunions in XFL 2023. Coaches like Arlington co-defensive coordinator Tim Lewis could reunite with players he has coached in the AAF, XFL, and USFL the last few years.
The XFL’s quarterback signings/assignments will generate a lot of attention. And the league’s draft in mid-November will certainly be a hot topic. But the January supplemental draft arguably carries the most intrigue. It will be smaller in nature than November’s draft. However, the doorway for players with expiring contracts is wide open and carries great interest. By that period, Players who are left out of the loop in the NFL, those who don’t sign futures deals with teams, and the ones who are free to leave other non-NFL leagues will be in play for the XFL.
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