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  • Writer's pictureAce

2023 Houston Gamblers: Pre- Training Camp Breakdown

USFL training camp is approaching rapidly, and many people are asking questions about rosters and cuts. Going into training camp, the teams will have 58 total players, and by the end of camp will have cut down to 50. There will be 8 cuts minimum, not including players that will come in during camp as cuts happen via free agent signings or drafted players who are not waiting for the NFL draft. Below is a roster breakdown by positions, and the amount of players from each position group that are expected to be a part of the 8 cuts and how many.


Quarterbacks

  • Kenji Bahar / Monmouth / Re-Sign

  • Terry Wilson / New Mexico / Re-Sign

  • Montell Cozart / Boise State / Trade

The Gamblers have 3 quarterbacks going into camp. Unless a quarterback is drafted and decides to play in the USFL in season 2, these are the three that will be on the roster going into week 1. As far as who QB1 will be, it is completely up in the air with Coach Johnson coming in as HC and Eric Price as a first time USFL offensive coordinator.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 0


Running Backs

  • Devwah Whaley / Arkansas / Re-Sign

  • Benny Lemay / Charlotte / Re-Sign

  • Mark Thompson / Florida / Re-Sign

  • TJ Pledger / Utah / Free Agent Signing

With 4 running backs on the roster, this will be a competition that could be decided fairly early in camp. The Gamblers held 3 backs for most of last season until the injury bug got to the RB room. New OC Eric Price stated he wants to air it out and take a lot of chances in the USFL, so pass catching ability could be the determining factor here.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 1


Tight Ends

  • Julian Allen / Southern Miss / Re-Sign

  • Brandon Barnes / Alabama State / Re-Sign

  • Josh Pederson / Louisiana-Monroe / Re-Sign

  • Clint Sigg / Lindenwood / Free Agent Signing

The Gamblers started last season with only two tight ends and added a third with the roster expansion. It is fair to assume that they will be holding onto 3 again in season two, which means this is going to be a tight nit and fierce competition. In Sumlin's offense the tight ends had to play more of an H-back role that consisted predominantly of blocking. With the new regime, the passing aspect of the tight end position may rise greatly in importance.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 1


Wide Receivers


  • Anthony Ratliff-Williams / North Carolina / Re-Sign

  • Tyler Palka / Gannon (PA) / Re-Sign

  • Teo Redding / Bowling Green / Re-Sign

  • Jojo Ward / Hawaii / Re-Sign

  • Joshua Moore / Texas / Free Agent Signing

  • Deontez Alexander / Franklin / Free Agent Signing

  • Keke Chism / Missouri / Free Agent Signing

  • Justin Hall / Ball State / Free Agent Signing

With the departure of Isaiah Zuber to the NFL and the addition of 4 new wide receivers to the roster, there is a great amount of talent. Justin Hall was specifically added for his talent at the slot position as the team had mostly outside dominant receivers. The Gamblers drafted 6 receivers in season 1 and kept all 6 throughout the season. With Eight currently going to camp, the receiver room is set to be on edge for a bit until cuts are made.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 1


Offensive Line

  • Brandon Hitner / Villanova / Re-Sign

  • Tyler Higby / Michigan State / Re-Sign

  • Nick Buchannon / Florida / Re-Sign

  • Avery Gennesy / Texas A&M / Re-Sign

  • Na'ty Rodgers / Houston / Free Agent Signing

  • Braylon Jones / Houston / Free Agent Signing

  • Taylor Tappin/ Sac State / Free Agent Signing

  • Bamidele Olaseni / Utah / Free Agent Signing

  • Jordan Steckler / Northern Illinois / Free Agent Signing

The Gamblers drafted 8 offensive line during the draft process in season 1 including Kristjan Sokoli who played both OL and DL which gave versatility and allowed the team to add another OL with the roster expansion. The number that looks about right is 8 this season as Sokoli is playing fully DL in season 2. With Coach Andy Townsend moving to coaching the OL this season, it will be an intense camp, and with the current roster at 9, it won't be a job that is just handed to anyone.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 1


Linebackers

  • Brandon Payer / CSU Pueblo / Free Agent Signing

  • Khalan Tolson / Illinois / Free Agent Signing

  • Jordan Young / Old Dominion / Free Agent Signing

  • Isaiah Pryor / Notre Dame / Free Agent Signing

The linebacker core that the Gamblers had in season 1 was one of, if not the best group of linebackers in the USFL. That being said, zero of the season 1 group is with the team in season 2. This leaves a great opportunity for the 4 young free agents that GM Bob Morris has signed, but also impressive shoes to fill. With only 4 LBs on the roster and all being unproven in the USFL, it would make sense for the Gamblers to draft one that is highly likely to join the USFL before the NFL draft to build tape. For now, the roles are set.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 0


Defensive Backs

  • Jeremiah Johnson / Concord (WV) / Re-Sign

  • Brandon Brooks / Regina / Free Agent Signing

  • Malcolm Washington / Northern Iowa / Free Agent Signing

  • Trey Hoskins / Weber State / Free Agent Signing

  • Manny Bunch / Tulsa / Re-Sign

  • Andrew Soroh / Florida Atlantic / Re-Sign

  • Bydarrius Knighten / Auburn / Re-Sign

  • Stefan Claiborne / Wyoming / Free Agent Signing

  • Nick Grant / Virginia / Free Agent Signing

  • Nazir Streater / IUP / Free Agent Signing

  • Dayan Lake / BYU / Free Agent Signing

  • Donald Rutledge Jr / Georgia Southern / Free Agent Signing

While there are three graphics for the DBs, the main thought process for most of the free agent signings was that they can play all positions in the defensive backfield. GM Bob Morris was signing most of the off season without a defensive coordinator, so he went with players that had a broad spectrum of ability position wise. While the 4 re-signed players stayed mainly in their respected positions in 2022, they will be put through the ringer at camp with the new players to prove their versatility. While they may be designated a safety or corner, they will have to look at all DBs as competition.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 2


Defensive Line

  • Andrew Ankrah / James Madison / Re-Sign

  • Isaiah Cahmbers / McNeese State / Re-Sign

  • Ronheen Bingham / Arkansas State / Free Agent Signing

  • Reggie Walker / Kansas State / Free Agent Signing

  • Tim Bonner / Florida Atlantic / Free Agent Signing

  • Kristjan Sokoli / Buffalo / Re-Sign

  • Cory Thomas / Mississippi State / Re-Sign

  • Ikenna Onwuasoanya / CSU Pueblo / Re-Sign

  • Dion Novil / North Texas / Free Agent Signing

  • Chigozie Nnoruka / Miami the U / Free Agent Signing

  • Eli Howard / Texas Tech / Free Agent Signing

There was no doubt that the defensive line for the Gamblers was the best in the league in season 1. With Odom and Davis getting their call to the NFL and Gooden moving to the Breakers, the starting lineup is wide open. Along with the returners from season 1, there are some new faces that are great at getting to the quarterback. This will be one of the most followed competitions at camp strictly based on the season 1 standard the Gamblers set on the defensive line, and it is looking to be a great one.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 2


Special Teams

  • Nick Vogel / UAB / Re-Sign

  • Drew Galitz / Baylor / Re-Sign

  • Cole Mazza / Alabama / Free Agent Signing

As far as punting and kicking went, the Gamblers had one of the most prolific units. The long snapper Tucker Addington has cemented his spot on an NFL roster, so Cole Mazza comes in to replace him. This unit is pretty much set, but still fun to watch them in camp and reminisce on their great season 1.


Projected Amount of Cuts: 0


The Gamblers have a lot of new faces in season 2, which means a lot of players who are hungry and looking to prove themselves. All of the USFL camps will be competitive and interesting to follow, but with how good the Gamblers defense was in season 1, there will be more eyes than not on this camp.


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