Mauler Supporters, Canton is upon us! Camp is here. The coaches are landing in Canton in the coming days and soon the players will follow. Revenge Tour has been the motto for the franchise and has been the guiding light to the team that was 1-9 last year. Kirby Wilson stated that he “wanted an open competition at every position” and new head coach Ray Horton has stayed with that mantra. Without further adieu, here are my top Camp Position Battles for the Pittsburgh Maulers.
#5- Defensive Line:
Returning: Boogie Roberts, Terry Beckner Jr, Will Miles, Nasir Player, Olive Sagapolu, Christopher Okoye, Level Tatum III
New Faces: Vaughn Taylor, Savion Williams
Synopsis: This line has a variety of faces. The biggest spot to fill is Carlo Kemp. Kemp played a majority of outside linebacker/edge rusher snaps last season. He is still with the LA Chargers. Vaughn Taylor is a new guy to keep an eye out for. He is a talented pass rusher and seems focused on getting to the next level. Nasir Player is another player to watch out for. Player is the guy from last year's roster that makes the most sense. I expect a strong camp from Player. The tackles are not a glorious position but the Maulers have some good ones. Boogie Roberts and Olive Sagapolu are monsters of the middle and line. Both played well last year and look for both to take a step forward in the upcoming season. Terry Beckner was a stud against the Stallions during the last season. Will Miles joined the team late last year and after talking to him on ‘Hammer Time’, you can just tell that he is chomping at the bit to get a shot. Level Tatum III is another player that looks to build on his late season involvement with the Maulers last year. Savion Williams is the latest to sign with the Black and Gold as he gets his highest opportunity to play on the next level.
Projected Cuts: 1, maybe 2
#4- Tight Ends/ Fullback
Returning: Matt Seybert, Artayvious Lynn
New Faces: Datryan Evans, Mason Stokke
Synopsis: This may be one of the most telling position battle decisions of the entire offense. Every single guy brings a different aspect to the team. The best blocker may be Stokke. Evans is a talented passing game option that has worked his way from the semi-pro level to the USFL via indoor football. Matt Seybert had good production when he was healthy last season. He brings a traditional Heath Miller type tight feel to the team. Artayvious Lynn has good pass catching ability with good size. If they go with more blockers, you may see the offense operate one way and if they go with the big play capabilities then we may be in store for a bit more spread.
Projected Cuts: 1
#3- Wide Receiver
Returning: Tre Walker, Bailey Gaither, DelVon Hardaway, Jalen McClesky, Isaiah Hennie
New Faces: Samson Nacua, Beau Tanner, Hunter Rison, Josh Simmons
Synopsis: This position room is loaded. The returning group may be the most talented in the entire league currently. Walker comes back after making highlight play after highlight play last season. Gaither spent time with the Ravens and Giants in NFL Training Camp. Hardaway was solid when given the opportunity. McClesky and Hennie were solid from the moment they signed. Hennie was second on the team with 3 touchdowns last year despite only being with the team for five weeks total. McClesky contributed right from the start as well. Nacua is a huge target that spent time with the Colts in recent years. Tanner is lightning quick and possibly one of the fastest players in the league. Rison is a highlight film just like his father Andre Rison. Simmons is a Spring League vet from Prairie View A&M. This position battle is probably the toughest for new players to jump over the veterans.
Projected Cuts: 2
Returning: Bryce Tornedon, Eli Walker, Arnold Tarpley III, Malcolm Elmore,
New Faces: Xavier Lewis, Eric Burrell
Synopsis: The safety is the most crucial position on Jarren Horton’s defense. Horton relies on the safety to make adjustments as the position is essentially the quarterback of the defense. Tornedon and Tarpley were spectacular last season. Tornedon was All-USFL as he played all over the field. Tarpley was on his way to serious consideration for All-USFL but a late season injury probably derailed the recognition. Walker and Elmore come back and look to expand their role in the defense. Lewis played for Horton at Southeastern Louisiana so the familiarity to the playbook should help his development. Eric Burrell is a hard nosed player from Wisconsin that made tackles throughout his Badgers career in the box, out of the box, and sideline to sideline. This is my personal favorite camp battle as it is a vital position for this team.
Projected Cut - 1
New Faces: Troy Williams, James Morgan, Connor Sampson, Chase Fourcade
Synopsis: The easiest prediction of the entire USFL offseason was that the Maulers had to find a way to become better at quarterback. The offense showed flashes of success when the quarterback was settled. Offensive Coordinator John Tomlinson told me on ‘Hammer Time’ that he truly believes that the teams with the most continuity at quarterback last season were the most successful. Tomlinson has spent the offseason working with the quarterbacks consistently to grow that continuity. The most talked about USFL position battle in camp will reside in Canton with these quarterbacks. Each guy in this competition brings a different skill set. The offense can look drastically different depending on the quarterbacks selected during camp.
Projected Cuts: 1
Camp is here. So let's go! Follow me on all Social Media channels at hammertime_web. Weekly Hammer Time shows are released at 11:30am within Team Wednesdays on the USFL Network YouTube channel. Subscribe now!