The XFL saw plenty of standout players in their opening weekend of the season as they created electrifying plays throughout the four games.
The story of the weekend was the performances of the defenses as they applied plenty of pressure on the quarterbacks as well as creating turnovers. It was the defensive linemen who showcased their skills with plenty of sacks. They proved in week one that defense wins championships in football.
XFL Players of the Week: Week 1
Offensive Player of the Week: Deontay Burnett, WR, Houston Roughnecks
Deontay Burnett had one of the best performances of the receiver and offensive players in week one as he was able to record eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s 33-12 win over the Orlando Guardians. Burnett was consistent throughout the game and easily became Brandon Silvers’ favorite receiver throughout the game. His highlight play came where the Guardians jumped offsides and on a free play, Silvers connected with Burnett as he one hand catches the ball for a 46-yard touchdown.
There were a lot of different choices for players of the week as it was a tight race between multiple players. In the end, Burnett’s impact on the win against Orlando was the difference in him getting the nod. One big play is great, but he was able to do more than that on multiple plays to help the offense move down the field. He impacted the game all through the game, so Burnett earns the player of the week award.
Honorable Mentions – Jeff Badet, WR, Vegas Vipers (six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns)
Kalen Ballage, RB, San Antonio Brahmas (24 rushes for 84 yards, three catches for 13 yards)
Jahcour Pearson, WR, Seattle Sea Dragons (12 catches for 95 yards)
A.J. McCarron, QB, St. Louis BattleHawks (18-26 for 190 yards and two touchdowns in two minutes)
Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Harris, DL, Houston Roughnecks
There wasn’t a defensive player who dominated as much as Trent Harris did for the Roughnecks against the Guardians. While the team finished with seven sacks for the game, Harris contributed to four of those sacks. Four sacks is an XFL record in a game. He finished with four tackles and four tackles for loss as well so all of his tackles came off of sacks.
A lot of what contributed to Harris’ success was him just showing off his pure strength and speed off the edge. To put into perspective, former New York Guardians defensive lineman Cavon Walker recorded 4.5 sacks in five games in 2020 which led the league in sacks. Harris almost hit it in one game so he is pacing for a record-breaking season for the XFL.
Honorable Mentions – Michael Joseph, DB, DC Defenders (six tackles, two interceptions, one touchdown)
Tim Ward, DL, Houston Roughnecks (four tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks)
LaRon Stokes, DL, Vegas Vipers (5.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss)
Special Teams Player of the Week: Taylor Russolino, K, Arlington Renegades
Some of the games saw the kicker make an impact on the game, but Arlington Renegades kicker Taylor Russolino’s performance against the Vegas Vipers was critical. One big reason is that he had to deal with 11-mile-per-hour winds which affected Renegades punter Marquette King’s punts. Despite that issue, Russolino was able to go 3-3 on field goals with a long of 38 yards.
Without those three field goals from Russolino, Arlington loses that game as they won by just two points so every kick counted. He was one of the best kickers in the XFL back in 2020 and looks to be picking up from where he left off. With the conditions he dealt with, Russolino more than earned top honors on special teams.
Honorable Mention: John Parker Romo, K, San Antonio Brahmas (three field goals, 48-yard field goal long)
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