Just like that, the Michigan Panthers are ready to kick off their 2023 USFL season this weekend. The franchise has a lot to prove this year, after posting a 2-8 record in 2022.
Trench Work ‼️😤💪 pic.twitter.com/nJ58ZamaMB
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) April 11, 2023
The overall landscape in Michigan looks entirely different in many aspects, especially from a coaching perspective. Jeff Fisher is no longer with the Panthers, as Mike Nolan has taken over ahead of season two. On top of that, the team has several new additions to the roster.
Let’s take a look at the full Michigan Panthers squad heading into 2023, and what we can expect from Mike Nolan’s team in the USFL.
The Michigan Panthers have a strong room of quarterbacks…no pun intended. The team recently signed Carson Strong, who is an intriguing prospect heading into the 2023 season.
Carson Strong has a cannon 👁 pic.twitter.com/zszL7TWU6O
— NBA Slime (@TerryFranconia) May 1, 2022
Strong had a few incredibly successful years at Nevada. His senior season was outstanding, throwing for 4,175 yards and 36 touchdowns. Carson has struggled with knee issues during the course of his career, limiting the time he spent in the NFL.
Nevada QB Carson Strong and WR Romeo Doubs are draft picks! Doubs has two touchdowns in this little clip, but I want you to look at this film and try to tell me there are not some Josh Allen traits in this kids play! Carson Strong has a rocket arm pic.twitter.com/2lbb44SiDv
— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) May 10, 2021
Regardless, if he can stay healthy in the USFL, he’s well on his way to making some serious waves in Michigan. His powerful arm and big frame make him into a potential MVP candidate for the league, and hopefully he can live up to the hype.
Josh Love is back with the Michigan Panthers. Love was traded to the team from Pittsburgh mid-season in 2022, and performed quite well. Unfortunately, he dealt with multiple injuries which hampered the overall production and playing time we saw from Love.
Josh Love puts the Maulers back on top with a big touchdown throw to Bailey Gaither. pic.twitter.com/E3LDb42Dn2
— USFL Sapient 🇺🇦 (@USFLSapient) April 23, 2022
He certainly has an opportunity to win the starting job, especially with his previous experience in Eric Marty’s system. Love finished the 2022 season with 347 yards and two touchdowns, but only played one full game. He’s a solid game manager, and would provide stability to the Panthers if he gets the start.
Eric Barriere was also a member of the Panthers last season, seeing the field in one game against the New Jersey Generals. He put up solid numbers, and showed signs of life throughout the outing.
this young man @EB3__ is somethin' else pic.twitter.com/4vuNEn1WKu
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) April 26, 2021
Barriere formerly won FCS Offensive Player of the Year when he was with Eastern Washington University. Eric is likely heading into the season as the third string quarterback, but could see his name called upon. If he does get the call, expect Eric’s dual threat capabilities to make an impact.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Michigan Panthers roster this season are their running backs. Reggie Corbin and Stevie Scott return to the team for 2023, which is excellent news for Panthers fans across the board.
It's still bizarre to me that @ReggieCorbin isn't in the NFL, and wasn't even given a call for training camp. He did everything you could've asked of him – and more – in the #USFL this season. Multiple NFL teams should be bringing in Corbin ASAP.pic.twitter.com/fBYoeezoOv
— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenPFN) August 26, 2022
Corbin needs no introduction. The All-USFL RB was one of the lone bright spots in Michigan last year, posting 516 rushing yards despite missing multiple games with a hamstring injury. His presence within the Panthers offense gives them the potential and juice to be extremely dangerous.
⚡️ @Steviescott8_ can FLY
He breaks off for a big gain
📺: @USA_Network pic.twitter.com/Zr0fDfDb5f
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) June 19, 2022
Stevie Scott is no sleeper, either. Scott was excellent during the 2022 season, rushing for 310 yards and three scores. With Scott and Corbin both healthy for the Panthers, expect fireworks from this duo in the backfield.
Speaking of returning players, the wide receiver core will look relatively similar for Michigan this season. Joe Walker, Devin Ross, and Ishmael Hyman have all made the roster ahead of week one.
Despite the loss, @Legendaryking__ balled out for us yesterday 🔥
7 catches | 129 rec yards | 2 TDs pic.twitter.com/uMHGlYHgUq
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) June 12, 2022
Joe Walker, in particular, is in a position to have a breakout year. He came on towards the end of the 2022 season, putting on a show in multiple games. Walker’s height and route running abilities make him a standout at the wide receiver position.
On another L E V E L 📈@PaxtonLynch 🎯 @HollyWood_Ish13 pic.twitter.com/SjkB1heJgo
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) June 20, 2022
Devin Ross and Ish Hyman are both speedy receivers, with excellent hands. Their return to the lineup will be greatly appreciated in Michigan.
At the same time, the Panthers added some serious talent to this side of the ball. Whop Philyor will make his USFL debut in Michigan. He had a solid career at Indiana, posting over 1,000 yards receiving in his junior season. Now, he’ll look to find his professional footing in the USFL.
Whop Philyor scores the touchdown and hits the train whistle on the way back to the sideline pic.twitter.com/n7wWHPXimz
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 30, 2019
The rest of the WR room is made up of Trey Quinn, Marcus Simms, and AJ Richardson – who are all talented candidates. Quinn has NFL experience, playing for the Washington Commanders and Jacksonville Jaguars. Richardson put up spectacular numbers at Boise State, and will look to prove his worth as a WR in the USFL this season.
Four tight ends remain on the Panthers’ roster ahead of the 2023 season. Marcus Baugh, Cole Hikutini, Josh Babicz, and Kyle Markway make up the TE room in Michigan.
Cam Miller. Josh Babicz. 55 yards. pic.twitter.com/H9bsNHWCES
— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) October 30, 2021
Baugh was with the Panthers in 2022, racking up 101 receiving yards during the course of the season. Babicz is a name to keep an eye on, being a late addition to training camp. Josh had a solid career at North Dakota State, posting 254 yards and 4 TD’s in his senior season.
The Michigan Panthers offensive line is comprised of the following players:
With several pieces coming back alongside a few new additions, the Panthers OL play is poised to make improvements in season two.
Ethan Westbrooks returns to the Michigan Panthers for season two, after showing quite a bit of promise in the USFL last year. Westbrooks finished the USFL’s 2022 season with 4.5 sacks, despite dealing with moving pieces across multiple organizations.
Remember when…@EastyBeasty90 with the sack against those #Breakers#FanMediaNetwork pic.twitter.com/fNoy5r3Zo1
— Bryan Webster – USFL Network – Pittsburgh Maulers (@hammertime_web) September 1, 2022
Tre Williams, Walter Palmore, and Vantrel McMillan are returning linemen for 2023, and will look to build upon the limited minutes they played in 2022.
Breeland Speaks, Jamal Milan and Garrett Marino are new additions. Marino is an interesting character, well known for his controversial hits, which led to his release from the CFL. Garrett will look to redeem his name in the USFL.
👋, Breeland Speaks (@Bspeaks9)#EggBowl pic.twitter.com/Xi5obLQBBO
— Stephen Nelson (@StephenNelson) November 24, 2017
Speaks is someone to watch, having played for the Kansas City Chiefs. He served valuable minutes for Kansas City in 2018, but hasn’t seen much professional success since then. With Michigan, Speaks has an opportunity to rewrite his career.
Frank Ginda is back with the Panthers, which is an underrated re-signing. Ginda is an excellent linebacker, playing fantastic football over the past few years. Frank finished the 2022 season with 89 total tackles, and 1.5 sacks.
😤 @frankginda05 with the BIG-TIME sack pic.twitter.com/4nl8zhSn6a
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) May 7, 2022
Terry Myrick also returns to the team, racking up 44 tackles last season. Ginda and Myrick both coming back is great news, as the duo should already have plenty of chemistry to carry over from 2022.
Noah Dawkins, Paddy Fisher, and Ron’Dell Carter are three LB’s who the team signed in the offseason, with each making the final 50-man roster.
.@NoahDawkins takes it 49 yards the other way with the PICK 6! #FireThoseCannons | #BeatWofford pic.twitter.com/ScznRSaKBF
— The Citadel Football (@CitadelFootball) September 1, 2018
Dawkins is an excellent signing, being an athlete with a ton of promise. He had a fantastic career at Citadel, and played for the New York Jets for a couple of years. Now, Noah turns to the USFL for the next chapter of his professional career.
The Panthers will look to rebound in the secondary, as they’re missing some of their starting pieces from 2022. Heading into 2023, the cornerbacks and safeties consist of:
Jalin Burrell | CB
Josh Butler | CB
Keandre Evans | CB
Kiante Hardin | CB
Levonta Taylor | CB
Corrion Ballard | S
Cory Rahman | S
Delano Hill | S
Sean Mahone | S
Warren Saba | S
Burrell was with the Michigan Panthers in 2022, racking up 28 tackles on the season. With Jameson Houston now gone, and Jalin back in business, expect more out of him during the 2023 campaign, if he eventually sees playing time. (Note: Burrell is currently on the inactive roster.)
Congrats to @OuachitaFB on their Homecoming win & this terrific 103-yd pick-six by Keandre Evans. A great play made even better by longtime announcer @rexnelson’s exhilarating play-by-play call which was featured on @SNFonNBC last night! Psst @miketirico: it’s “wash-i-tah” 😊 pic.twitter.com/Ecb9j6kHHm
— Senator John Boozman (@JohnBoozman) October 1, 2018
Keandre Evans is a very intriguing prospect, out of Ouachita Baptist. He put up sensational numbers in his final three years in the program: 202 tackles, 10 INTs, 3 pick sixes. If Evans is given a chance to sign, he most certainly will.
Welcome to the league, KiAnte Hardin 🏈🦅#CFLGameday | @BCLions pic.twitter.com/IDg7r7qEX4
— CFL (@CFL) August 13, 2021
Kiante Hardin has alt-football experience, posting 45 tackles and 2 INTs in 2021 with the BC Lions. He’s extremely quick, running a 4.37 forty. As long as Hardin can keep his character in check, he’s the type of player who could have a breakout tenure for Michigan.
Corrion Ballard is an interesting USFL story. He played for Michigan in 2022 – was released during the season – and now returns to the team for 2023. Ballard will look to prove his worth to the Panthers organization after being cut.
Warren Saba rejoins the Panthers, after suffering an injury that crushed his hopes of playing in 2022. Saba is a talented safety out of East Carolina, compiling 105 tackles and six picks during his tenure there.
Hell of a play from back up safety Delano Hill to seal the game! That’s how you answer when your number is called!! #NextManUp pic.twitter.com/n6iguhQUzt
— Oliver Davis II (@I_Am_OD3) September 21, 2020
Delano Hill is a big-time name to land in Michigan. He played for the Michigan Wolverines, performing at a high level. Out of college, he joined the Seattle Seahawks, seeing plenty of playing time for the ensuing few years. Now, Hill will look to revive his career in the USFL.
Cole Murphy is back. The legendary kicker from season one sticks with the Panthers, which is excellent news for Mike Nolan. Murphy joined mid-season, and instantly got to work, knocking through a 60 yarder in week seven against New Orleans.
🗣 FROM THE LOGO 😤
Can't wait to see more of this in SZN ✌️@_ColeMurphy_ x @USFLPanthers pic.twitter.com/habfRwTqyC
— USFL (@USFL) March 1, 2023
Kyle Kramer serves as the team’s punter, also returning to the team. Shane Griffin will be the long snapper. While special teams haunted Michigan last season, expect this unit to perform at a high level, with all three players back in action.
Without a doubt, the Michigan Panthers boast a ton of talent heading into the 2023 USFL season. The question remains: can they consistently execute on the field?
Michigan was a solid team in 2022, but self-inflicted wounds hampered their chances of having a winning record. With Mike Nolan now at the helm, it will be intriguing to see if this team can put it together in season two.
Stay low, make sure they don’t see you 😤🤞#HuntingSzn @NoahDawkins x @Legendaryking__ x @HOLLYWOOD17__ pic.twitter.com/O5sodi9EQ4
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) April 4, 2023
The Michigan Panthers kick off their season at 12pm ET on Sunday, April 16th on NBC against the Houston Gamblers.
What do you think of the Michigan Panthers roster heading into the 2023 season? Which USFL players do you predict to be standouts? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!