As we approach the regular season, now 28 days away, you should know the backgrounds of the men leading your DC Defenders. Below, you’ll find a full biographical layout of each offensive coaches career. One thing is for sure, the XFL has attracted top-level coaching talent.
Head Coach: Pep Hamilton
Pep Hamilton played for Howard University from 1993-1996 as a Quarterback, where he was an All-Scholar athlete. Immediately after his playing career, Hamilton joined the Howard staff as the Quarterbacks Coach. Following a few seasons earning his stripes, he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. In 2003, Hamilton left his longtime program for the New York Jets as an Offensive Quality Control Coach. For the next two NFL seasons, he was a QB coach and a WR coach. Pep bounced to the San Francisco 49er’s and Chicago Bears over the next few seasons, again as the QB coach.
Pep Hamilton made the decision to jump back to the college ranks, this time in the Power 5 at Stanford. Pep initially was hired as the QB coach and absorbed the Offensive Coordinator position, under Jim Harbaugh. Pep guided Andrew Luck to a career as one of the best collegiate QB’s in history and one of the most coveted NFL draft picks in the 21st century. Pep earned the opportunity to follow his star NFL draft pick Quarterback to the Indianapolis Colts as an Offensive Coordinator. Over his several seasons leading the offense, Hamilton earned the opportunity to interview for the Oakland Raiders Head Coaching slot, though he didn’t get the role. Following being let go by the Colts, Hamilton had a quick stay at the revolving door of the Cleveland Browns as an Assistant Head Coach and QB Coach. Pep’s most recent role prior to the Defenders was as the Passing Game Coordinator for the University of Michigan, back under Jim Harbaugh. Pep brings his excellent experience developing Quarterbacks and innovative offenses to the Defenders.
- Howard (1997–2001)
- Howard (1999–2001)
- New York Jets (2003)
Offensive quality control coach
- New York Jets (2004)
- New York Jets (2005)
Wide receivers coach
- San Francisco 49ers (2006)
- Chicago Bears (2007–2009)
- Stanford (2010)
Wide receivers coach
- Stanford (2011–2012)
Offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach
- Indianapolis Colts (2013–2015)
- Cleveland Browns (2016)
Assistant head coach & quarterbacks coach
- Michigan (2017–2018)
Assistant head coach & passing game coordinator
- DC Defenders (2020–)
Head coach & general manager
Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach: Tanner Engstrand
According to Engstrand’s archived coaching bio for the University of San Diego here, Tanner was a quarterback at San Diego State during the 2003 and 2004 seasons and at Grossmont College from 2000-2002. Once Engstrand graduated, he latched on as a Graduate Assistant with Jim Harbaugh (notice the clear Jim Harbaugh tree for the Defenders). Over the next several seasons at the University of San Diego, Engstrand graduated to bigger roles in the offense. He was a Running backs Coach, a Quarterbacks Coach, and the Pass Game Coordinator. Engstrand was named as the Offensive Coordinator at the University of San Diego in 2011. Over the next 7 seasons for the Division 1 FCS contender, Engstrand helped lead the team to consistent success and FCS playoff births.
Engstrand chose to pursue a role for a Division 1 FBS program, leaving to work under Jim Harbaugh (there is the reunited connection) and Pep Hamilton as an Offensive Analyst at the University of Michigan. From there, Tanner accepted the position as Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs coach for the DC Defenders.
Running Game Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach: Chris Scelfo
Chris Scelfo brings over 35 years of coaching experience to the DC Defenders. Scelfo has coached Offensive Lines around Division 1 FBS football since the early 90’s. After leading some dominant Offensive Lines for the University of Georgia, he was hired as the Head Coach at Tulane. Historically a down program, Scelfo went 37-57 in his time there, winning both bowls he led the team to. Following his dismissal at Tulane, Scelfo went to the NFL ranks and coached Tight Ends for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons for 7 seasons. Chris did eventually head back to the collegiate level to continue coaching Offensive Lines, for both Houston and UNCC. Scelfo has spring expansion league experience, with his most recent job being as the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots Offensive Line Coach.
|River Oaks (assistant)
|Northeast Louisiana (GA)
|Georgia (assistant HC / OL)
|Atlanta Falcons (TE)
|Arizona Hotshots (OL)
|DC Defenders (OL)
Offensive Line Coach: Mitch Browning
Coach Mitch Browning brings a wealth of experience to the DC Defenders. Browning had his first full time coaching position at Kent State in 1983 (had prior graduate assistant jobs at NC State and Miami (Ohio). At Kent State, Browning eventually rose to be the Offensive Coordinator for the team. Following his roles at Kent State, Browning joined the staff at Kansas for 9 seasons, coaching anywhere from Defensive Backs and Linebackers to the Tight Ends. Browning moved on to Minnesota, where he found consistent success as their Co Offensive Coordinator or Offensive Coordinator, where he relied heavily on a nationally recognized running game. He eventually found his way to Syracuse, where he was the teams offensive Coordinator. Mitch bounced to SEC Tennessee and then spent two seasons at Akron. Browning has recent stops at Ashland, Davidson, and Rutgers coaching offenses.
Browning left the collegiate ranks all together after Rutgers and accepted a role as the Offensive Coordinator for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. Browning eventually left Toronto and took the Offensive Coordinator job at FCS Baker University. The job at Baker is his most recent job prior to the role with the DC Defenders.
Quarterbacks Coach: Ted White
Coach White brings to the table the great HBCU connections that Coach Pep Hamilton also has. Ted White was a Quarterback at Howard University (Like Coach Hamilton, again). Following Collegiate success, White played in NFL Europe and the CFL for several seasons. Coach White got his start coaching in 2006 as the QB/WR coach for Texas Southern. In 2010, White was hired for the Offensive Coordinator role at Southern University. In 2011, White could not turn down the offer to join the staff of his alma-mater. Over the course of 5 seasons, Ted was promoted to the teams Assistant Head Coach role and Offensive Coordinator. Ted White continued earning his stripes as an Offensive Coordinator at two more Division 1 FCS jobs (Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Prairie View A&M). Those two roles are his most recent.
|Texas Southern (QB/WR)
|Arkansas-Pine Bluff (AHC/OC/QB)
|Prairie View A&M (OC/QB)
|DC Defenders (QB)
Wide Receivers Coach: Bob Saunders
Coach Bob Saunders is the son of longtime NFL coach Al Saunders. Saunders has put together a career of Offensive Quality Control and Wide Receiver Coach positions for numerous NFL staffs. His most recent experience was with the Cleveland Browns from 2016-2018, as an Offensive Quality Control Coach and an Assistant Wide Receivers Coach. This is not Saunders’ first jump into Spring Expansion League football, having been on the staff of the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers.
- Kansas City Chiefs (2002–2003)
Offensive quality control
- Kansas City Chiefs (2004–2005)
- Washington Redskins (2006–2007)
Assistant wide receivers coach
- St. Louis Rams (2008)
Assistant wide receivers coach
- Virginia Destroyers (2010–2011)
Wide receivers coach
- Cleveland Browns (2015)
- Cleveland Browns (2016–2018)
Assistant wide receivers coach/Offensive quality control
- DC Defenders (2020–present)
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