On August 9th, the XFL conducted another rights draft which saw 28 new players earn opportunities with the league. These players were either present at the recent XFL combine, or attended one of the league’s Summer showcases. Not only did the Houston Roughnecks gain rights to two more players, but they also traded for another.
Starting with the trade, Houston acquired wide receiver Landen Akers from the San Antonio Brahmas. In return, the Roughnecks gave the Brahmas an additional selection in the rights draft. Akers, who played college football at Iowa State, was initially signed by the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2021. He appeared in two games that season, earning a Super Bowl ring at the end.
Akers was let go by the Rams as part of final roster cuts in 2022, and joined the Brahmas in November as a member of their inaugural draft class. Despite only appearing in 6 games during the 2023 XFL season, he was highly productive, catching 31 passes on 39 targets for 303 yards. Akers will look to bolster a receiving corps that noticeably slowed down in the second half of the year.
Moving on to the rights claims, the Roughnecks added both Elijah Blades and Tristen Wallace to their roster. Blades, a cornerback, was most recently at the University of Buffalo in 2022. During his sole year with the Bulls, he recorded 27 total tackles and 4 pass breakups. Prior to his time in Buffalo, Blades had bounced around the SEC, appearing in games for both Texas A&M and Florida.
In the early stages of his career, he was the no. 4 overall player at the junior college level, becoming a star at Arizona Western. While things haven’t been too consistent for Blades in recent years, he is a high upside player that can compete for a spot in the secondary.
Tristen Wallace, a tight end, was actually listed as a receiver during his days at Prairie View A&M. Between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Wallace was one of the top receiving options in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), recording a combined total of 78 catches for 1,114 yards and 6 touchdowns. He will join other HBCU standouts in Houston, such as running back Brycen Alleyne and wide receiver Justin Smith. Additionally, he becomes just the second tight end on the roster behind Garrett Owens.
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