By all accounts, the Birmingham Stallions have had a fantastic season. However, it got off to a rocky start. After USFL week one, the Stallions lost seven starters or key contributors to injury.
But each time a man went down, it was another opportunity for someone to step up. For example, the Stallions hated to lose starting quarterback J’Mar Smith, but his injury allowed Alex McGough to step in and have an MVP-level breakout season.
Another player the Stallions were sad to lose was linebacker Scooby Wright. But Wright’s injury allowed another star to emerge: Quentin Poling.
Quentin Poling’s Success
Poling was with the Stallions last year, but he did not see the field often as he sat behind Wright and DeMarquis Gates. This year, Poling was in the mix to start the season, but he took on an even bigger role once Wright went down. And he certainly has made the most of it.
Through week nine, Poling has 43 tackles (second most on the team), six tackles for loss (most), 2.5 sacks (third on the team), one fumble recovery (tied for most), one interception (tied for most), and a pass deflection. He has won USFL Defensive Player of the Week twice, the only Stallions player to win the award this season. This past weekend is an example of his success. He had 11 tackles (eight solo), 0.5 sack, two tackles for loss, an interception, and a pass deflection. If Poling had been on the field more this year, he could be in serious consideration for USFL Defensive Player of the Year.
As the Stallions begin to prepare for the postseason, some unfortunate news broke this week. Quentin Poling has been transferred to the “Suspended List.” The Suspended List is not for disciplinary reasons, and I can confirm Poling did nothing wrong to be suspended. Instead, the Suspended List is for players who need to take a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons. While Poling did not do anything wrong and is not hurt, he is not presently with the team. But he remains a member of the roster in case he is able to return at a later date.
Free Agent Signing: ⁰LB Damon Lloyd, Indiana (PA)
Transferred Player to Inactive Roster: LB Damon Lloyd
Transferred Player to Suspended List: LB Quentin Poling
While this is a huge blow for the Stallions, there is a silver lining: the timing is somewhat ideal. Scooby Wright, who has been on Injured Reserve for the past five weeks, is now off IR, healthy, and ready to play. His presence will go a long way toward filling the hole left by Poling.
With Poling stepping away, General Manager Zachary Potter went ahead and made a move to secure another linebacker: Damon Lloyd. Lloyd played college football at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with Stallions defensive end Dondrea Tillman. He had a decorated career at IUP, finishing with 384 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, three interceptions, and 16 pass deflections. His senior year he was a 2nd Team All-American, a Cliff Harris Award finalist (small college defensive player of the year), and the PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Year.
He graduated in 2020 but went undrafted and unsigned. He decided to play in The Spring League, a sort of predecessor to the USFL. In The Spring League, he played for the Blues, who were coached by Ted Cottrell, the New Jersey Generals current defensive coordinator. He played alongside linebackers Joey Alfieri and Adam Rodriguez, who are currently with the Philadelphia Stars.
His Spring League performance was good enough to earn him an opportunity with the Los Angeles Chargers. He has been with them for the past two seasons but was on Injured Reserve both of those years. After finally getting healthy, he was released by the Chargers two weeks ago. Now, with three games left in the USFL season, he will have an opportunity to show what he can do when healthy as he tries to earn a job back in the NFL.
You hate to ever lose a football player, especially one of the caliber of Quentin Poling. But for the Birmingham Stallions, it is the same mentality that it has been all year: next man up. The Stallions have been in this situation before, and they have weathered personnel storms. Between Wright, the newly signed Lloyd, and the remaining linebacker corps, the Stallions will be ready for Week 10 and the postseason.
What are your thoughts on the Birmingham Stallions losing Quentin Poling, potentially for the season? Will Damon Lloyd fill the role well? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!