Special Teams was one of the Battlehawks strongest assets in their return to St. Louis in 2023. The unit not only saw All-XFL Kick Returner Darrius Shepherd earn Special Teams Player of the Year, but also Long Snapper Alex Matheson earned an NFL contract with the Los Angeles Rams during the late half of the 2023 NFL season.

Kick Returner: Darrius Shepherd 2023 Stats: 37 Kick Returns 907 Yards

Shepherd in addition to being an effective Wide Receiver for St. Louis in 2023, earned Special Teams player of the year honors last season. In 2024 Shepherd could possibly be at the the tail end of his NFL window at 28-Years Old, expect him to continue to expand his opportunity with the Battlehawks Special Teams Unit. Shepherd totaled over 907 Kick Return Yards for the Battlehawks in 2023, and with the league’s transition to the new Kickoff rules, look for Shepherd to be in contention for another Special Teams Player of the Year award.

Punt Returner: Steven Mitchell 2023 Stats: 2 Punt Returns 31 Yards

In 2023 Austin Proehl was the primary Punt Returner for the Battlehawks however, Steven Mitchell could be the “guy” in 2024. Mitchell, returned Two Punts for the Battlehawks last year and looks to be the Battlehawks first option at the position. Another option? St. Louis local Jeff Thomas, who had success at the position at the University of Miami.

Punter: Sterling Hofricther 2023 Stats: 36 Punts 1,460 Yards 40.6 AVG. 1/1 64 Passing Yards 1 TD

An NFL Veteran of 18 games and 62 punts, Hofricther provided a solid option for St. Louis despite ranking 7th in average in the XFL in 2023. While Hofricther didn’t have the strongest leg, he did put together one of the greatest plays in the “Dome”, with his 64 Yard TD pass to Gary Jennings

Kicker: Andre Szmyt 2023 Stats: None

Szmyt joins his teammate from college Sterling Hofricther for his first season in spring football. After a dominate career in college, Szmyt replaces Donny Hageman after a stint with the Chicago Bears of the NFL. At the moment Szmyt does find himself in a Kicker competition with Andrew Mevis, but due to his success in college, along with his ties to Dave Boller, and Hofritcher Szmyt could find himself the Battlehawks opening day kicker.

Kicker: Andrew Mevis 2023 Stats: None

Mevis is a bit infamous for those who are fans of the Kicker position. After a miserable tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022, Mevis came back into the spotlight due to the success of his brother Harrison Mevis who was known as the “Thicker Kicker”. While many may know Mevis for the above mentioned relations, the former Iowa State Kicker is no push over as the Indiana Native was a Third-Team All-American in 2021.

Long Snapper: Alex Matheson 2023 Stats: 10 Games

Matheson was originally a supplemental draft pick for the Battlehawks in 2023, after Billy Taylor out of Rutgers opted to “retire” from football. Matheson was a consistent figure in the Battlehawks special teams unit, appearing in all 10 games eventually earning several NFL workouts and a Practices Squad contract with the Rams.

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Patrick Rifino

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