After successfully completing their first ever USFL Draft, the Philadelphia Stars are ready to hit the gridiron in April. Led by head coach Bart Andrus, the team is in a solid position to make a deep run in the USFL’s debut, as the Stars are a complete team across the board.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Philadelphia Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ pic.twitter.com/HOR7EcXpav
— Philadelphia Stars (@USFLStars) February 23, 2022
There will be a supplementary draft held on March 10th, where teams will have the opportunity to grab a few more players – but, for the most part, the Stars’ 2022 roster is set in place. Let’s take a look at their brand new squad, and determine which players will presumably leave the biggest impact.
Quarterback Room: Bryan Scott & Case Cookus
With their first pick in the 2022 draft, Bart Andrus picked Bryan Scott – a name that not everyone is familiar with. Scott was a standout at Occidental College, before participating in The Spring League. In fact, Scott is nicknamed “The Aaron Rodgers Of Division III”, due to his explosive, accurate arm.
Andrus was the head coach for the Generals in the TSL during their 2020 season, and with Scott at the helm, they were unstoppable. The team went undefeated, and Scott was the first quarterback to throw for over 1,000 yards in a season.
Considering Scott and Andrus have already worked together, this pairing in the USFL is severely underrated. The two took The Spring League by storm in 2020, obliterating anyone and everyone in their path. While the USFL will generally feature higher quality players compared to the TSL, Scott and Andrus are a duo to be feared heading into the 2022 season.
Case Cookus was also signed by the Stars, during the second go around of quarterback selections. While Scott is expected to be the starter, Cookus is someone to keep an eye on. He had several excellent seasons at Northern Arizona, throwing for over 12,000 yards and 105 touchdowns during that tenure. If given the chance, Cookus is someone who can certainly provide scoring for the Stars.
The Running Backs: Two TSL Standouts
As for running backs, the Stars picked up two solid athletes that both contributed at a high level during The Spring League’s past couple of seasons. Darnell Holland played for the Generals, and was a force to be reckoned with – showcasing his unique combination of strength and speed during both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Yesterday, former #BigSouthFB🏈 & @kennesawstfb Darnell Holland continued to make plays in The Spring League!
🎥: @TheSpringLeague#BigSouthMade pic.twitter.com/8kcsiY7m5e
— Big South Conference (@BigSouthSports) June 6, 2021
On top of his TSL experience, Holland spent time with the New Orleans Saints in 2019, after dominating at Kennesaw State. In his final year with the college, he ran for 949 yards on just 80 carries – averaging a ridiculous 11.86 yards per carry. With Holland in the backfield, the Stars will have flexibility to run multiple options and screens, due to the amount of versatility he brings to the team.
Matt Colburn II is no joke, either. After playing in the XFL for the New York Guardians, Colburn joined the Blues during the TSL’s 2020 season. He didn’t disappoint, racking up multiple 100+ yard games, dicing up defenses with ease.
Matt Colburn has been balling out in the #TSL2020. He absolutely deserves a shot in the NFL. 188 yards on the ground last week. 140+ yards already in this game (air/ground). He's making tons of plays – he is exactly why leagues like the #AAF, #TSL, & #XFL exist. #TheSpringLeague https://t.co/PMl2conlUY
— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenMI) November 12, 2020
Another bonus is that Holland played with Bryan Scott and the Generals back in 2020, so some camaraderie is already present between them. Heading into April, the Stars certainly have one of the strongest backfields in the league.
Wide Receiver Core
Philadelphia’s wide receivers consist of Devin Gray, Jordan Suell, Brennan Eagles, Diondre Overton, and Maurice Alexander.
Right off the bat, TSL fans will recognize Suell, who was also a part of the Generals’ Championship team in 2020. Suell was one of Scott’s go to guys, as the duo lit up opposing defenses week after week. Clearly, Scott played a role in bringing Suell to Philadelphia, encouraging Andrus to reunite the two athletes.
The Generals cannot be stopped.
QB Bryan Scott (@BryanScottQb) finds WR Jordan Suell (@JordanSuell2) for their second TD in the last five min to put this one out of reach.
XP by @Lirim_70 is good. pic.twitter.com/YRMZ8VSxqN
— The Spring League 🏈 (@TheSpringLeague) November 12, 2020
Devin Gray is poised to be an impact player for the Stars, having NFL experience with the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Gray was excellent in college, racking up over 1,300 yards in two seasons with Cincinnati.
Brennan Eagles, known for his speed, also joins the roster. The Texas Longhorns standout put up 1,000 yards in just two years with the college, and should help balance out the size of guys like Suell. Diondre Overton and Maurice Alexander fill out the rest of the WR room, both adding depth to the team at that position.
Bug Howard was signed as the sole Tight End, and will serve as another solid addition to the team. Howard participated in both the AAF and The Spring League, and made impressive contributions to both leagues. With his ability to play as a tight end or wide receiver, Howard brings a lot to the table for Philadelphia.
11/4 @TheSpringLeague #Alphas QB @JT_theQB4th drops back and hits @ThaBugMan deep for the 52 yard TD! Bug Howard has since signed to the @Jaguars Practice Squad #SpringFootballWorks pic.twitter.com/XVJDz08grn
— The Alternate Football Scout (@altfbscout) December 28, 2020
With six of their picks, the Stars selected Tackles: Blake Camper, Michael Rodriguez III, Jacob Burton; Guards: Jackson Brown, Paul Nosworthy; and Center Sean Brown.
As for offensive linemen, it can be difficult to assess how they will perform, due to the fact that they play as a group and need to develop chemistry. With that in mind, there are some excellent athletes signed by the Stars.
Blake Camper spent time with the Los Angeles Chargers coming out of college, and should bring a strong presence to the line. Jacob Burton also was in the NFL, playing for the New York Giants, before turning towards the USFL to continue his career. Sean Brown was a part of both the AAF and XFL, and most recently had experience in The Spring League.
Philadelphia selected a few defensive edge rushers in rounds two through four, picking up: Freedom Akinmoladun, Gus Cumberlander, and Carroll Phillips. All three saw success at their respective college levels, but never got a real opportunity with an NFL organization, and are now looking to build a resume in the USFL.
The same can be said for the tackles, drafting Mike Barnett, Chris Nelson, and Jerome Johnson. Nelson spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans, but never played in an NFL game. He did, however, join the Edmonton Elks of the CFL for their 2021 season, before declaring for the USFL draft. Johnson is a former standout out of Indiana, with 111 tackles and 13.5 sacks through four seasons.
While the names may not be instantly recognizable, the Stars have a group of linemen that can certainly do damage as the season approaches.
Josh Banderas is someone that spring football fans may remember, as he played for the Salt Lake Stallions in the AAF. His most recent stint came in The Spring League, playing for the Generals in their 2021 season. Banderas brings a lot of talent to the inside linebacker position, and will likely be a leader on the defensive side of the football.
The Stars also selected Jordan Moore, Te’Von Coney, and Solomon Wise as outside linebackers. Coney had a few excellent seasons with Notre Dame, notching 313 tackles in four years with the team. If he can stay healthy, Coney will be a force to be reckoned with come April.
CornerBacks & Safeties
The Stars made some impressive moves in the secondary, and several names are easily recognizable for fans of spring football. In the cornerback department, we have: Channing Stribling, Marcus Lewis, Mazzi Wilkins, and Bradley Sylve.
Stribling and Sylve were both in the AAF and XFL and performed at a high level. Stribling also played for the Generals in the TSL, and made an impact during his short tenure with the league. Sylve is best known for his game-sealing pick six during the XFL’s opening week, being a part of the DC Defenders team that defeated the Seattle Dragons. Sylve was a former standout CB from Alabama, and will definitely contribute to the Star’s secondary.
Former Alabama DB Bradley Sylve had a pick-six during the XFL’s opening game today pic.twitter.com/dh3OzQI0lG
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) February 8, 2020
Lewis and Wilkins have both been a part of NFL teams, with neither getting much of a chance to play in meaningful games. On the Philadelphia Stars, both will have an opportunity to see playing time, and put together film for future endeavors.
Jack Tocho, Cody Brown, and LaDarius Wiley make up the safety group, and once again prove that the Stars did their homework before making these selections. All three have experience in the AAF and/or the XFL, and have put up solid numbers at each respective level.
Tocho and Wiley were actually teammates on the Los Angeles Wildcats, so a connection is already there between the two. Brown was outstanding for the Houston Roughnecks, combining for 24 tackles and two interceptions during five games.
Ryan Navarro has been signed as the team’s long snapper, with experience in multiple NFL camps, alongside being a standout at Oregon State.
The Stars went with Matt Mengel as their sole kicker/punter, as the athlete has proven to be perfectly suitable at both positions. Mengel was sensational in The Spring League, knocking through multiple kicks of 50+ yards. With Mengel on the team, the Stars are in great shape when it comes to special teams.
From the logo! 🙌
K/P Matt Mengel (@Nuker_46) broke his own #TSL2020 FG distance record with this 55 yard make in the Championship Game. pic.twitter.com/jNKKRGdeo7
— The Spring League 🏈 (@TheSpringLeague) December 18, 2020
Overall Grade: A
After looking over the current roster, the Philadelphia Stars have very few flaws, if any. Their offense has plenty of weapons, and defensively the ceiling is high. If Bart Andrus and his group of coaches can ensure that this team gels together over the next couple of months, the Stars will be in a fantastic position to make a run at a Championship this year. USFL, look out: this team is shooting for the stars.
Are you satisfied with the Philadelphia Stars roster? Who do you think could help the team in the supplementary draft on March 10th? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!