The D.C. Defenders demonstrated a strong presence in their second season in the XFL during 2023. Under the leadership of head coach Reggie Barlow and playing their home games at Audi Field, they built upon their existing roster, which included several key players from their previous season. While there were new additions to the team, they maintained a core group of players, blending experience with fresh talent.

In terms of performance, the Defenders had an outstanding season, leading the XFL’s North Division with a record of 9 wins and 1 loss. Their offensive play was formidable, scoring a total of 298 points, the highest in the league. Defensively, they allowed 240 points.

Notably, Jordan Ta’amu’s exceptional passing skills contributed significantly to the team’s success, accumulating 1,894 passing yards. A major highlight of the season was their advancement to the XFL Championship, following a decisive 37-21 victory over the Seattle Sea Dragons.

They lost to the Arlington Renegades in the XFL Championship game.

Key DC Defenders Players

Quarterbacks:

  • Deondre Francois (Starter): Francois, hailing from Hampton University, has showcased promising skills as a quarterback. He’s known for his strong arm and mobility, offering a dynamic playstyle that adapts well to various offensive strategies.
  • Backup QB: D’Eriq King, Ta’amu’s backup in 2023 didn’t sign a letter of intent with the XFL but did mention on social media he is returning. No word on Geremy Hickbottom or Eric Dungey.

Offensive Line:

  • Tackles: George Moore and Jean Delance are new to the DC. Delance was selected by the Renegades on dispersal draft day, but then traded to DC. Moore was part of the Renegades XFL Championship run.
  • Guards: Matt Carrick (Michigan St) and Liam Fornadel (James Madison) offer strength and agility at the guard positions, essential for the interior line play.
  • Center: Michael Maietti from Missouri, as the center, plays a pivotal role in coordinating the offensive line and executing effective snap exchanges.

Receivers and Tight Ends:

  • Starting Receivers: Josh Hammond (Florida) and Brandon Smith (Iowa) are could be targets in the passing game, known for their route-running abilities and hands. Hammond was third in receiving yards with 331. Smith was fourth with 118 for DC in 2023.
  • Tight Ends: Alex Ellis (Tennessee) and Briley Moore-McKinney (Kansas St) were the primary Tight Ends in 2023.

Running Backs and Fullbacks:

  • Starter: Abram Smith (Baylor) leads the backfield with his ability to find gaps and break tackles. One of the top players in the XFL in 2023 finished the season with 778 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns.
  • Backup: Cam’Ron Harris from Miami (Fla.) provides a fresh and equally effective option, ensuring the running game remains dynamic throughout.

Defensive Line:

  • Defensive Ends: Davin Bellamy (Georgia) and Trent Harris (Miami (Fla.)) bring pressure on the edges, crucial for disrupting the opponent’s passing game. Harris was a huge get in the UFL Dispersal Draft, he led the XFL is sacks in 2023 with 9.5 for the Roughnecks.
  • Defensive Tackles: Fadol Brown (Mississippi) and Donovan Jeter (Michigan) fortify the interior line, key in halting the run game and pushing the pocket. Jeter played for the Roughnecks in 2023

Linebackers:

  • Starters: Francis Bernard (Utah) and Jordan Evans (Oklahoma) display strong tackling and coverage skills. Bernard lead the Defenders in tackles in 2023 with 34. Evans played for the Seattle Sea Dragons in 2023
  • Rotational Players: Reggie Northrup (Florida St) and Tim Ward (Old Dominion) provide depth and versatility, contributing significantly in various defensive formations.

Defensive Backs:

  • Cornerbacks: DeJuan Neal (Shepherd) and D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina) excel in pass coverage, playing a critical role in the secondary.
  • Safety: Santos Ramirez (Arkansas) offers support in deep coverage and are integral in run support.

Special Teams:

  • Kicker: Matthew McCrane (Kansas St) has shown reliability in field goals and extra points.
  • Punter: Paxton Brooks (Tennessee) is key in controlling field position with his punting skills. He is new to the UFL

Full DC Defenders Roster

Punter

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Paxton BrooksPunterTennessee-

Kicker

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Matt McCraneKickerKansas State-

Quarterback

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Deandre FrancoisQuarterbackHampton-
Jordan Ta’amuQuarterbackOle MissPearl City,HI
Jalan McClendonQuarterbackBaylor,

Tight End

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Alex EllisTight EndTennesseeDelmar,DE
Trae BarryTight EndBoston CollegeSummerdale,AL
Shaun BeyerTight EndIowaShellsburg,IA
Briley MooreTight EndKansas StateBlue Springs, MO

Running back

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Tabyus TaylorRunning backNotre Dame College-
Cam’Ron HarrisRunning backMiami (Fla.),
Abram SmithRunning backBaylorAbilene,TX
Pooka WilliamsRunning backKansas-
Darius HaggansRunning backViginia State-

Wide receiver

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Jazz FergusonWide receiverNorthwestern StSt. Francisville, LA
Brandon SmithWide receiverIowaLake Cormorant,MS
Chris RowlandWide receiverTennessee State-
Kelvin HarmonWide receiverNorth Carolina St-
Preston WilliamsWide receiverColorado St-
Ty ScottWide receiverMissouri St-
Keke CouteeWide receiverTexas Tech-
CJ JohnsonWide receiverEast Carolina-

Offensive guard

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Matt CarrickOffensive guardMichigan St-
Liam FornadelOffensive guardJames MadisonWyckoff,NJ

Offensive tackle

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Jack PlumbOffensive tackleIowa-
Adonis BooneOffensive tackleLouisville-
Mike MaiettiOffensive tackleMissouri-
Sadarius HutchersonOffensive tackleSouth Carolina-
Kyle MurphyOffensive tackleStanfordSan Clemente,CA
Lamont GaillardOffensive tackleGeorgia-
Jean DelanceOffensive tackleFlorida-
Tommy ChampionOffensive tackleMississippi StJackson,MS
Greg LongOffensive tacklePurdueEl Paso, TX
George MooreOffensive tackleOregonAntioch,CA
Chidi OkekeOffensive tackleTennessee StAnambra State,
D’Marcus HayesOffensive tackleGeorgiaMadison,MS

Defensive tackle

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Donovan JeterDefensive tackleMichigan-
Davin BellamyDefensive tackleGeorgiaChamblee,GA
Boogie RobertsDefensive tackleSan Jose St-
Trent HarrisDefensive tackleMiami (Fla.)Winter Park,FL
Andre MintzeDefensive tackleVanderbiltPhiladelphia,PA
TJ BarnesDefensive tackleGeorgia TechMontgomery, AL
Niles ScottDefensive tackleFrostburg StElkton, MD
Dennis JohnsonDefensive tackleGrand Valley St-
Tim WardDefensive tackleOld DominionHigh Point,NC
Tariqious TisdaleDefensive tackleMississippiLexington, TN
Joseph WallaceDefensive tackleSam Houston StDallas,TX
Joe WallaceDefensive tackleSam Houston State-

Defensive end

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Fadol BrownDefensive endMississippiCharleston,SC
Derick RobersonDefensive endSam Houston St-
Malik FisherDefensive endVillanovaNew York,NY

Middle linebacker

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Mohamed SanogoMiddle linebackerLouisville-
Anthony Hines IIIMiddle linebackerTexas A&MPlano, TX
Reggie NorthrupMiddle linebackerFlorida StJacksonville,FL
Jordan EvansMiddle linebackerOklahomaNorman,OK
Ferrod GardnerMiddle linebackerLouisiana Lafeyette,
Francis BernardMiddle linebackerUtahHerriman,UT
Momo SonagoMiddle linebackerOle Miss-
Anthony HinesMiddle linebackerTexas A&M-

Cornerback

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Elijah BladesCornerbackBuffalo-
Deontay AndersonCornerbackHoustonHouston,TX
Mike JosephCornerbackDubuque-
Gareon ConleyCornerbackOhio St-
Montae NicholsonCornerbackMichigan St,
Adam SparksCornerbackLouisiana-MonroeBaton Rouge,LA
Anthoula KellyCornerbackFresno StGalena Park,TX
Deandre BakerCornerbackGeorgia-
DeJuan NealCornerbackShepherdShady Side,MD
Isaiah JohnsonCornerbackHouston,
D.J. SwearingerCornerbackSouth Carolina,
DJ SwearingerCornerbackSouth Carolina-
Sam KiddCornerbackJames Madison-
Nydair RouseCornerbackWest Chester (Pa.)Philadelphia,PA

Safety

PlayerPositionCollegeHometown
Kentrell BriceSafetyLouisiana TechRuston,LA
Santos RamirezSafetyArkansasShreveport,LA
author avatar
Mark Perry Editor
Mark Perry, a devoted sports journalist and founder of UFL News Hub, has been a key figure in XFL, USFL and UFL coverage since 2018.

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