The Stallions have continued to sign players in an effort to bring in the top 75 UFL players they can assemble. In that process less than a week after selecting 11 players in the Super Dispersal Draft, they have signed another 9 players, including Slade Bolden that had previously been discussed here. Bolden isn’t the only Alabama player in this latest run of players signed.

Deonte Brown from Alabama will team with Josh Sokol from Sacred Heart to add even more depth to an already impressive offensive line. They also added a pair of defensive linemen a a trio of pass catchers, ANOTHER running back and two of the best defensive backs on the market from the USFL in 2023. Let’s start by looking at the trenches where the Stallions added four more players between the offensive and defensive lines.

Stallions Continue to Bring in NFL Talent

Deonte Brown, Guard

Stepping into the starting lineup for Alabama midway through the 2018 season he would spend the next two years as a full-time starter. During his five seasons he was a part of two national championship victories. After 2 ½ seasons as a starter for the Crimson Tide, he was selected in the 6th round by the Carolina Panthers. He went from learning under long time coach Pat Meyer in year one, to James Campen a former NFL OL, who has now been coaching offensive line for 20 years at the NFL level in 2022 and 2023, not a bad combination to begin your professional career.

He would spend the majority of the next three seasons on the practice squad being waived in final cuts in 2022 and 2023 but re-signed to the practice squad. After the season Brown was not offered a futures deal. This left him available to pursue the UFL season which kicks off in March. He could very easily play one season with the Stallions, and end up right back in the NFL.

Josh Sokol, Center

Sokol entered college with Sacred Heart as a 275 pound freshman looking to make a name for himself. He would not see the field as a true freshman but in his second season that would change when he saw action in nine games. As a Junior he took over as a full-time starter. He would go on to start 38 games from 2018-2021 before graduating. Sokol served as a team captain his final two seasons while also earning First Team All-NEC both years.

As a part of the 2022 NFL Draft Class he took his chances in the draft with no certainty he would be selected. He ended up falling undrafted and signing with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after. He would spend the entire 2022 season on the practice squad working under Chris Kuper a former NFL offensive lineman in his own right. The Vikings liked what they saw in 2022 and brought him back via a futures deal to have him compete again in 2023. He was released in final cuts, and this time he did not return.

Sokol is only 26 years old, and still has at least a couple more years left before he has to worry about his NFL window closing on him.

Owen Carney, DE/OLB

Owen Carney is a very intriguing player at this point in his career. At only 24 years old, he has already had a taste of the NFL, and now gets a chance to get meaningful reps in the UFL. In college Carney attended Illinois under Lovie Smith from 2016 to 2020 before Smith joined the Houston Texans in 2021. On this staff was Defensive Coordinator Hardy Nickerson, future St. Louis Battlehawks Defensive Coordinator Donnie Abraham, and Mike Phair current Ottawa Redblacks Defensive Line coach was serving in the same capacity with Illinois.

Carney was surrounded by future or past professional coaches who had specific experience at his position group. Hardy Nickerson his defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for his first three seasons was a 5-time probowl linebacker in the NFL. This paid off for Carney as he was able to develop over time into a dangerous pass rusher while growing from 230 to 275 pounds over his five seasons.

Carney racked up 16 sacks in four seasons, adding 21.5 tackles for a loss. At 275 pounds he was able to run a 4.78 40-yard dash, with a 1.66 10-yard split, a 7.55 3-cone drill, and 21 reps in the bench press. Respectable numbers for a man of his size, and enough to garner NFL consideration. He would end up with Miami for the 2022 preseason where he played in three games he put up an impressive performance with 4 tackles, and 1.5 sacks.

He would also spend some time with the Bengals. Carney is a player who has the size, speed, and versatility to be a big time performer on this defense that needed to make an effort to improve their defensive line. Now having added two of the best pass rushers in the USFL in the draft, they were able to double tap the position by adding two of the best available free agents.

Carlos Davis, Defensive Tackle

Carlos Davis is a 6’2 320 pound nose tackle who graduated from Nebraska. If you thought Carney Jr. was an impressive athlete how about this: Carlos Davis ran a 4.82 40-yard dash at 6’2 313 pounds in the 2020 NFL Draft process. He also managed a 1.67 10-yard split, with 27 reps in the bench press. This came after an already solid career at Nebraska, and immediately garnered him attention.

He would hear his name called on draft day in the 7th round. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the premier NFL franchises when it comes to drafting and developing defensive line talent. Running a 3-4 defense under Mike Tomlin, Davis had the athletic ability, and body-type to play either nose tackle or defensive end. Spending the next two seasons on the active roster, by 2022 he had slipped down the depth chart onto the practice squad.

He was not retained for the 2023 season and ended up signing with the Atlanta Falcons. He was let go in final cuts after competing all offseason, and this left him available for the Stallions to sign the first time in October of 2023. He was again released in late December to facilitate his return to the Falcons practice squad. He did not sign a futures deal after the season, and was able to return to the Stallions. The same team that helped his twin brother Khalil, back to the NFL in 2023, where he is now amidst a playoff run with the Houston Texans.

Running Back Is as Deep as it Gets

If you told me that the Stallions would come into training camp with Bo Scarbrough, Cj Marable, Ricky Person, Zaquandre White, AND Larry Rountree III, I would have been surprised to say the least. Well here we are, nearing up on training camp and the Stallions have five running backs and a fullback on their roster. Larry Rountree III is yet another talented running back with the Stallions, that looks like a luxury signing after they brought back all four of their 2023 backs.

Larry Rountree III attended Missouri where he was an important part of their backfield rotation for four straight years. Playing in 48 games for the program he amassed 746 carries for 3,720 yards and 40 touchdowns, while adding 47 receptions for 289 yards. While also returning 25 kicks in 2017. This was enough to turn NFL heads, and he wound end up selected in the 6th round of the 2021 draft by the Chargers.

As a rookie in 2021 he put up an impressive performance in the preseason with 22 carries for 102 yards and 6 receptions for 23 yards. He made the active roster and went on to play quite a bit as a rookie due to injuries in the backfield. He would see 36 carries for 87 yards catching just 1 pass, he also returned 7 kicks. In 2022 the Chargers brought in more depth, and this led to a direct cut to his touches. He ended up appearing in 4 games with only 15 touches for 33 yards.

The Chargers opted to move on midway through the 2023 preseason, allowing Houston to sign him. He would latch onto their practice squad before he was released in September. Now he gets a chance to play in the UFL. If you’re looking for a player to compare him to currently, I would look at Darius Victor. Both are compact runners who run with great power, but don’t have elite speed in the open field. Both are adequate receivers and pass blockers but they aren’t the first player you will look to in these situations. With Cj Marable in place that role is locked down anyway.

A Trio of Pass-Catchers, or is it?

Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin has been turning heads since high school when he collected over 1700 yards in his last two seasons. He was 6’3 198 pounds coming out of high school and rated a 4 star recruit. He would commit to Notre Dame working under wide receivers coach Del Alexander. Over the next four seasons he experienced some highs and some lows.

One of these highs was playing in 11 games as a true freshman, and seeing 5 receptions for 90 yards showing promise for the school right away. In 2019, he was suspended for undisclosed reasons, and missed the entire season. He returned to the field in 2020 but fractured his foot in practice and reinjured it during his second game back. He caught just 1 pass, but again went 18 yards keeping his average of 18 yards per reception intact going into his senior year. As a senior he finally put it all together and had a full season as a starter. He caught 48 passes for 888 yards and 7 touchdowns. Rather than use any more eligibility, which could have likely been as many as two more seasons if he filed an appeal for a medical redshirt for 2020, he opted to enter the 2022 NFL Draft after his best season yet.

His college career showed flashes, but his pro-day highlighted why he was able to find this success. At 6’3 200 pounds he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, with an insane 1.48 10-yard split one of the quickest first steps I have ever seen. He also had elite agility with a 6.71 3-cone drill, and leaping ability with a 39 inch vertical. He is an elite athlete, the questions with him come when you consider health, and mindset with the suspension. Despite this performance and a strong senior season, he wound up a UDFA signing with Jacksonville.

Jacksonville brought in Austin knowing he could be a weapon if he was given some time to develop at the NFL level. They decided to give him that time during the 2022 season as they signed him to their practice squad, and allowed him to return to compete in 2023, he again was released in final cuts but was not brought back this time. Check out this highlight reel below:

Jordan Thomas, Tight End/Pass Rusher

Jordan Thomas might be the most intriguing prospect on this list. He was once a 6th round draft pick by the Houston Texans who caught 20 passes as a rookie. He slowly faded out of the plans in Houston before he was released prior to the 2020 season and bounced between a couple teams. Over the next two seasons he had stints on practice squads but couldn’t find a consistent home, adding 1 more touchdown to his NFL stats.

He opted to take his chances with the XFL. He split time between the St. Louis Battlehawks, and Orlando Guardians after a five year NFL career to that point. During his time with the XFL in 2023 he managed 8 receptions for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns as a redzone threat for the Guardians he also managed 1 tackle. He would then be signed by the Carolina Panthers….as a Linebacker. Keep in mind Thomas has been a career tight end, dating all the way back to his time at a JUCO college in 2014-2015 where he saw some time as a defensive end, and offensive tackle when called upon as well.

At 6’5 ½, and 280 pounds, lets not forget that he ran a 4.74 40-yard dash, with a 1.65 10-yard split with 16 reps in the bench press numbers that certainly would be intriguing as a strongside pass rushing linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Which is exactly what the Panthers were trying to do. Now the Stallions and Thomas have a choice to make. Is it time for the 27 year old to make a bold decision and move full-time to linebacker giving himself one last ditch shot to make an NFL roster in a new light? If Thomas is competing as a pass rusher, he will have to play at an NFL level to even make this roster going against some very solid players who have spent their entire careers rushing the passer.

Slade Bolden

You can read more on Bolden’s signing here:

Stallions Secondary Looking Stout

Not only did they add depth at wide receiver, tight end, offensive and defensive line, but they added two of the top USFL Defensive Backs over the past two seasons.

Mark Gilbert and Ike Brown have both spent time on NFL rosters since their most recent USFL stint. Brown spent the 2022 season as a part of the New Orleans Breakers before signing with the Las Vegas Raiders and spending the 2023 season with them. Gilbert spent 2023 with the Pittsburgh Maulers where he played well enough to earn interest from the Miami Dolphins who signed him to a contract. Now both return to a Stallions secondary that seems to have signed many players that played in the USFL, or XFL that went onto sign with an NFL team.

With Gilbert, and Brown, the Stallions have now formed a superstar lineup in the secondary. Channing Stribling, Nevelle Clark, Terrell Bonds, Madre Harper, Chris Jackson, and Mark Milton will also compete for time at cornerback during camp.

At safety the team has Jojo Tillery, Eli Walker, and Alijah Holder competing at free safety, while James Wiggins, Tj Carter, and Kenny Robinson will compete at strong safety. No matter who makes their way to the top of these competitions this secondary should be among the best in the league.

Competition, Competition, Competition

Each and every roster in the new UFL is stacked top to bottom but the Stallions have the biggest target on their backs heading into 2024. Having won back-to-back USFL Championships in convincing fashion they are far and away everyone’s #1 in the preseason power rankings. Even Arlington and DC left questions by losing key games in 2023, while the Stallions always rose to the occasion in the most important games. This is a whole new league, but the Stallions have taken key steps to ensure they are still among the most talented rosters in the UFL.

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Sam Just

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