The Birmingham Stallions had as good of a first season as a fan could ask for. Going 9-1 in the regular season and beating the New Orleans Breakers and the Philadelphia Stars in the playoffs to win it all was a story book ending to the only team to have a home field in year one.
But the show goes on and Skip Holtz and crew are going to have to reload to try to go back-to-back. They will be bringing back 40 of the players from that championship roster and have added another 20 names into the mix. Thanks to their success, they will have the last pick in the draft so let’s see where they could use it on.
The Stallions currently roster 60 players as of 2/9/23.
Returning: J’Mar Smith, La. Tech; Alex McGough, FIU
Additions: Jalen Morton, Prairie View A&M
Losses: Montell Cozart, Boise State
In year one, the Stallions had a rotating door at quarterback with Alex McGough starting the year but getting hurt in the season opener which gave J’Mar Smith the role until McGough came back but McGough would be benched in favor for Smith later in the season. This all culminated in the championship game where Smith would get hurt in the 3rd quarter and McGough would come back in and lead Birmingham to the first ever USFL championship. So how is the room looking now? Well, it seems that they are content leaving Smith and McGough to fight it out in camp for the starting role again in 2023. They added Jalen Morton who is replacing last year’s third string QB in Montell Cozart who will be in Houston in 2023. Morton played 2 years up north in the CFL but only had 6 pass attempts to show for it. It seems that it is most likely Smith’s job to lose but it wouldn’t surprise me if McGough is able to steal the starting job in camp since he won the camp battle last year. Either way I don’t see them adding to the room in the draft.
RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama; CJ Marable, Costal Carolina; Tony Brooks-James, Oregon
WR Marlon Williams, UCF; Michael Dereus, Georgetown; Adrian Hardy, La. Tech; Peyton Ramsy, Tuskegee; Jeffrey Thomas, Miami
TE Cary Angeline, NC State
RB Zaquandre White, South Carolina
WR Rico Gafford, Wyoming; Austin Watkins, UAB; Myron Mitchell, UAB
TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
WR Victor Bolden, Oregon State; Osirus Mitchell, Mississippi State
TE Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
Victor Bolden made the most of his opportunity in the USFL championship getting 6 catches for 64 yards and the go-head touchdown which was enough to earn the championship MVP. That season would do a lot for Bolden as he now has a futures deal with the Broncos and will not play for the Stallions in year 2. The good news is that many of the other big performers from last season are back like Bo Scarbrough, Marlon Williams, and CJ Marable. They have also added a few interesting names in Zaquandre White and Rico Gafford. White was an UDFA in 2022 and after failing to make the Miami Dolphins roster, he will try his hand in the USFL. Gafford is very interesting; he spent all his time in college at Wyoming at cornerback. After a few years in the NFL, he switched to receiver and on his first reception scored a 49-yard touchdown. Since then, he’s bounced around rosters and positions and was even drafted into the XFL at corner before deciding to join Birmingham at receiver. The Stallions replaced tight end Sage Surratt with former 3rd round pick Jace Sternberger who probably will be the starter. Although these positions seem complete, I could see the Stallions taking a receiver or tight end during the draft.
T Tyree St. Louis, Miami; Darius Harper, Cincinnati; Mike Rodriguez, La. Tech
G O’Shea Dugas, La. Tech; Marquez Tucker, Southern Utah
T Lukayus McNeil, Louisville; Derwin Gray, Maryland; Jacob Capra, San Diego State
G Matt Kaskey, Dartmouth
C Cohl Cabral, Arizona State
T Ryan Pope, San Diego State
G Cameron Hunt, Oregon
C Jordan McCray, UCF
The biggest thing standing in the way of the Stallions repeating is the Offensive Line. The Stallions lost their OL coach Jon Himebaugh to the XFL, and 3 starters followed. The Stallions averaged 135 yards per game in 2022 and although some of that was that can be attributed to their great backfield that’s returning, a lot was thanks to a great offensive line. Most people who are into spring football know that there aren’t a ton of Linemen out on the street and Birmingham need three good ones to replace All-USFL Guard Cameron Hunt, Tackle Ryan Pope, and Center Jordan McCray. They have already brought in five new signings along the line. All five have NFL experience and Derwin Gray was even a 7th round pick for the Steelers in 2019 but it remains to be seen if they can replace what came before. I could see Birmingham using one of their top picks on an offensive lineman.
In 2022, The Stallions had the top defense in the league. The front 4 with their league leading 27 sacks were a large part of that defense. It seems like Birmingham is going to stick with what worked as most of the pieces on the DL are coming back. The only two losses were rotational guys in Doug Costin and Aaron Adeoye who are on the Arlington Renegades now. They could continue to make a strength stronger, but I can’t imagine them using a high pick on their front.
Additions: Rashad Smith, FAU; Elijah Sullivan, Kansas State
Losses: DeMarquis Gates, Ole Miss; Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Some of the best personalities in the first year of the USFL were the two starting linebackers for the Stallions in DeMarquis Gates (With his floss stick) and Scooby Wright (with whatever a Shark dog is). This pair won’t be together in 2023 as Gates is under contract with the Bears. The legendary Sharkdog is coming back which wasn’t a guarantee as he was looking into starting a wrestling career but that didn’t materialize. The two additions Rashad Smith and Elijah Sullivan have some NFL experience, but it will be big shoes to fill if they end up being the Starter next to Wright. It wouldn’t surprise me if they continue to add to this room in the draft.
CB Brian Allen, Utah; Lorenzo Burns, Arizona; Bryan Mills, NC Central
S Tyree Robinson, Oregon; Christian McFarland, Idaho State; JoJo Tillery, Wofford; Malik Grant, Marshall; Nate Holley, Kent State
CB Nate Brooks, North Texas; Mark Fields II, Clemson; Donnie Lewis, Tulane
S TJ Green, Clemson
CB Tae Hayes, Appalachian State
S Josh Shaw, USC
This offseason has been wildly different for the Cornerback room and the Safety room in Birmingham. The Corners lost their top cornerback in Tae Hayes who is under contract with the Patriots. They have made up for the loss of Hayes with signing three corners with NFL experience in Nate Brooks, Mark Fields, and Donnie Lewis. Meanwhile, the safety group is almost untouched. They even added to an already solid room with the signing of former 2nd round pick TJ Green. There is so much depth at the safety position that they probably look to move one or two guys to linebacker to fill that need. Overall, they could maybe use another cornerback, but the secondary is solid.
The Stallions were able to win the first spring football championship in over 20 years and they fully plan to do it again. They’re going to need some help on offensive line, receiver and maybe linebacker. They have a serious chance at building the first spring football dynasty if they continue on the path they’re going, and that process continues with the draft.
How do you think the Birmingham Stallions will fare in 2023? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.