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Which Team Tops the Season Opening Power Rankings?

The moment spring football fans have been waiting for has FINALLY arrived! That’s right folks, the United Football League makes its debut this weekend. With it come UFM’s initial Power Rankings ahead of week one action. Below is a detailed breakdown of all eight UFL teams and where they sit in our rankings. In collaboration with fifteen-plus UFL experts, our contributors have put together rankings based on rosters, coaching staffs, and front office executives.



All eight of these rosters feature NFL-quality talent and depth. Only one team can be in the top spot. Let’s rank 'em’ and sort ‘em out!


8) Michigan Panthers

Notable Players: DE Breeland Speaks, QB E.J. Perry, LB Frank Ginda,  WR Jordan Suell

Coming in at number eight on our list are the Michigan Panthers. Situated in a stacked USFL Conference, the Panthers are primed and ready to pounce on opponents in 2024. Michigan will be led by returning Head Coach Mike Nolan. Last season while competing in the USFL, Nolan led the Panthers to a 4-6 record accompanied by a trip to the USFL North Championship Game in 2023. Nolan enters his third year coaching the Panthers and has plenty of experience coaching in high-pressure games. 

Offensively, Michigan will trot out former Brown University Quarterback E.J. Perry in week one against the St. Louis Battlehawks. The backup to Perry is former LSU Tiger Danny Etling. Both Perry and Etling have spent time in the NFL in recent years, but have elected to seek playing time in the UFL instead of waiting on practice squads. Lining up behind QB1 will be three exceptional running backs in Wes Hills, Mathew Colburn II, and Nate McCrary. Hills, who spent 2023 with the New Orleans Breakers and was the top rusher in the league, looks to get plenty of touches per game. Colburn II was a Philadelphia Stars mainstay the past two seasons in the USFL. McCrary is a newcomer to the UFL having most recently spent time with the Browns and Packers in 2023. The receiving corps for Michigan is chuck-full of talented players. Jordan Suell, Devin Gray, Trey Quinn, and John Hightower should all see plenty of targets this season.


Switching over to the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers will shine at all three levels. The defensive line includes former USFL sack leader Breeland Speaks. A dominant pass-rusher in college, Speaks comes off his 2023 season year in which he accumulated a league-best nine sacks. The second level will be led by Linebacker Frank Ginda. He shined for the Panthers last season, accumulating 104 total tackles and three interceptions. Finally in the secondary, look out for Safety Bryce Torneden. The former Pittsburgh Mauler will don the burgundy and gold this season looking to create havoc week in and week out. All in all, this Panthers defense will keep them in close games throughout the season. For now, Michigan will have to play fundamentally sound football to compete with the other seven UFL squads in 2024. 



7) San Antonio Brahmas

Notable Players: TE Cody Latimer, WR Jontre Kirklin, DT Caeveon Patton, C Alex Mollette

Shifting gears from the USFL Conference to the XFL’s side of things, the San Antonio Brahmas enter 2024 in the seventh spot. After a disappointing 2023 under former Head Coach Hines Ward, another legend has taken the coaching reins in San Antone. Head Coach Wade Phillips has been hired to bring San Antonio fans greatness in 2024 and beyond. Phillips, General Manager Marc Lillibridge, and the rest of the Brahmas staff have assembled an excellent roster. Perhaps the youngest team in the league, the Brahmas are not as experienced as some of the other UFL teams, and it could potentially hinder them in key moments this year.


As we look at the offense, Phillips and company named former Cal Bear and Oakland Raiders Quarterback Chase Garbers QB1 this week against the D.C. Defenders. The Brahmas backfield consists of Anthony MacFarland, Brycen Alleyne, and John Lovett. All three of these backs have the ability to start for San Antonio, bringing a unique style to this RB room. Perhaps amongst the strongest group of pass catchers in the league, San Antonio will use Wide Receiver Jontre Kirklin, and Tight Ends Cody Latimer and Alize Mack, in a variety of ways. Brahmas fans can expect to see a fair share of 12-personnel with that talented trio in 2024. A solid offensive line that includes Center Alex Mollette should give Garbers plenty of time to hang in the pocket and pick apart opposing defenses.

San Antonio’s defense will be led by its front four. Look for pass-rusher Tim Ward and run stuffer Caeveon Patton to cause issues no matter the down and distance. The second level Linebackers Tavante Beckett and Jordan Williams. Two key pieces in Phillips’ defense, this duo can fly sideline to sideline with the best of them. The secondary is also loaded with talent including Teez Tabor, Bryce Thompson, and Jeremiah Hendy. 

An underrated aspect about San Antonio is its special teams trio. Returning to the Brahmas are Punter Brad Wing and Long Snapper Rex Sunahara. A new kicker has been brought in to replace the departing John Parker Romo, who heads to the Minnesota Vikings where he will compete for the kicker job later this year. Known by fans as Deestroying, Donald De La Haye won a training camp battle against former NFL Kicker Matt Ammendola to secure the job.



6) Houston Roughnecks

Notable Players: RB Marc Thompson, DE Adam Rodriguez, MLB Reuben Foster,  WR Justin Hall

Making our way up the list, we find the Houston Roughnecks in the sixth spot to start the season. After the USFL-XFL Merger, The Houston Gamblers of the USFL became the Houston Roughnecks of today’s UFL. Complete with Head Coach Curtis Johnson and his staff trading in the black and red for navy, this roster is rock-solid throughout. Last season as the Gamblers, Johnson and company finished at .500 with a 5-5 record. 


Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano will get the week one start against the Memphis Showboats. Backup QB’s Reid Sinnett and Nolan Henderson could also see action under Johnson this week. Sinnett is no stranger to the rigors of spring football. Sinnett played for San Antonio last season and bounced around the depth chart after suffering an injury. Henderson is the newcomer in the group but has all the intangibles needed to be a franchise QB. On the rushing end of things, expect a heavy workload from former USFL OPOY Marc Thompson, once he returns from injury that is. Until then, Roughneck fans should get familiar with T.J. Pledger, Tiyon Evans, and Emmanuel Butler. Shifting to pass-catchers, Houston has a mixed bag of both size and speed at its disposal. Receivers Justin Hall, Cyril Grayson, and Isiah Hennie are speed burners who can stretch the defense vertically. To the contrary, Keke Chism, Kirk Merritt, and Steven Dunbar are true boundary players that can make tough, contested catches in traffic. Look for Anthony Ratliff-Williams to have a crucial role within the confines of the offense, too.


The true stars of the show for Houston might be their front seven. A star-studded defensive end rotation that includes the likes of Carlo Kemp, Adam Rodriguez, and Chris Odom will wreak havoc on opposing Tackles in 2024. The defensive line also has plenty of top-end talent in Toby Johnson, Ethan Westbrooks, Keonte Shad, Glen Logan, and Olive Sagapolu. Simply put, good luck running against Houston. The second level will be led by linebackers Reuben Foster, Ronheen Bingham and Gabriel Sewell. Foster comes off an impressive season with the Pittsburgh Maulers and looks to anchor a defense that should have zero problems getting to the quarterback. Questions in the secondary remain, but the Roughnecks can answer those questions with sound football mechanics and correct eye discipline. Watch for Defensive Backs Markel Roby and Jai Nunn-Liddell to make a splash this season in Houston. In terms of risers, keep an eye on Houston early in the year. 


5) Arlington Renegades 

Notable Players: LB Donald Payne, QB Luis Perez, LB Vic Beasley, WR Deontay Burnett 

Now, we know what XFL fans are thinking. How could the reigning, defending, undisputed XFL champions be the fifth best team in the UFL? Well, simply put, the other seven teams in the league have upgraded their talent pools ahead of 2024 as well. Returning Head Coach Bob Stoops makes a strong case for best coach in the league and will have his Renegades ready to play, regardless of the opponent. The question to be answered is whether Arlington is a threat to snag the ever-coveted 2024 UFL Championship from the competition.


When discussing spring football, Luiz Perez has become a staple in various leagues since 2019. Named the starter some weeks ago by Stoops, Perez has two up-and-coming quarterbacks behind him in Lindsey Scott Jr. and Holton Ahlers. The Renegades have a fascinating QB situation heading into 2024, but for now, Perez is QB1. The Renegades backfield is also intriguing. Following the release of former Orlando Guardians Morgan Ellison and Devin Darrington, Arlington is left with De’Veon Smith, Leddie Brown, and Dae Dae Hunter to carry the load. Smith is another spring football marvel, having played in several different leagues since 2019. Smith will start for Arlington in week one against the Stallions. Brown is a favorite of Coach Stoops and provides decent stability for the Renegades running game. The true wildcard of the group is Hunter. I would expect Stoops and new Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long to go with a “running back by committee” approach in 2024, exposing all three backs to defenses. 





Moving to receiver, returning starters include Javonta Payton and Tyler Vaughns. Renegades newcomer Deontay Burnett projects and WR1 in Arlington and should get plenty of targets this year. Also, do not forget spring football legend Sal Cannella returning to Arlington as one of the top tight ends in the UFL. Lastly on offense, this Renegades offensive line can take over games under OL Coach Jonathan Himebauch. Even with the loss of Garrett McGhin, expect linemen such as Cameron Hunt, Jake Lacina, and Adrian Ealy to be stout upfront.


Arlington’s defense will be led by veteran Linebacker Donald Payne. In the trenches, Look for Tomasi Laulile, Davonte Lambert, Bunmi Rotimi, and Laron Stokes to plug up rushing lanes and get after the quarterback. Defensive End Willie Taylor returns after a breakout year with Arlington in 2023 along with Will Clarke. Arlington has also brought in NFL-Veteran Vic Beasley. While Payne and Taylor should be standouts for Defensive Coordinator Jay Hayes’ squad, Linebacker Marquel Lee heads to the Renegades after parts of five seasons in the NFL. Lee, a 2017 5th round pick by the Oakland Raiders, should be a key playmaker for Arlington this season. Playmakers in the secondary include Cornerbacks Ajene Harris and Darren Evans.


Arlington fields a spectacular special teams duo in Kicker Taylor Russolino and Punter Marquette King. Taylor is a spring football veteran, playing with the Battlehawks in 2020 and with Arlington last year. King continues his spring football career in his second year with Arlington. The duo should be one of the best across the UFL.



4) Memphis Showboats

Notable Players: QB Case Cookus, RB Darius Victor, DT John Atkins, WR Jonathan Adams

The remaining four teams on our week one Power Rankings can be flip-flopped and interpreted any way you like. The margins between these four powerhouses are paper thin. Coming in at four are the Memphis Showboats. Under the tutelage of new Head Coach John DeFilippo and General Manager Dennis Polian, this Memphis roster rivals some of the best across the UFL. 


Coach Flip has worked with NFL greats at the quarterback position in various stints dating back to 2005. In the thick of game planning, implementing, and executing his offense will be Quarterback Case Cookus. Though a “two-QB” system is unlikely, Memphis also rosters talented arms in Troy Williams and Josh Love. In what could be the league's best 1-2 punch, running backs Darius Victor and Trey Williams give the offense plenty of flexibility regardless of down and distance. The pass catching group in Memphis is nothing to scoff at either. Led by Wide Receivers Jonathan Adams, Diondre Overton, and Vinny Papale, the offense should be flexible enough to run any play in any situation. A trio of tight ends including Sage Surratt gives the Showboats a group of route runners in which every receiver is at least six feet tall. For opposing defenses, it will be a nightmare scenario trying to line up and cover Memphis based on size and catch radius alone.




Switching sides of the ball, Memphis will call upon Defensive Coordinator Carnell Lake to lead the defense. His run defense should be stout with big, physical DT’s in the likes John Atkins, Dayton Mack, Josiah Bronson, P.J. Hall. Pass rushers Tyshun Render and Jeff McCullouch will bring constant pressure off the edge. The secondary has plenty of flexibility to either play in the box or in “center field” depending on what the offense is showing. Delrick Abrams, Nehemiah Shelton, and Kyree Woods are pliable, athletic defensive backs who will surely have their numbers called throughout the year. With Memphis currently in the four spot, look for them to shoot up the rankings with dominant wins in the early part of the season.


3) D.C. Defenders

Notable Players: QB Jordan Ta’amu, DE Davin Bellamy, CB Michael Joseph, T.J. Barnes 

Another year of Beer Snakes and lemons in Defenders territory is upon us. With it comes a retooled team ready to compete for a UFL Championship. Head Coach Reggie Barlow and General Manager Vonn Hutchins were hard at work in the offseason gathering talent on their quest for greatness. With many top stars returning to D.C., this Defenders team might have the most depth of any UFL team in 2024. Sitting as a top three team in the Power Rankings, D.C. should be a dominant force just as they were last year. 


In what might be the most crucial roster move D.C. made this offseason, the return of Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu signifies stability within the offense. Backing him up will be former Vegas Vipers QB Jalan McClendon along with former Orlando Guardians QB Deondre Francois. While Ta’amu is the clear-cut QB1, it will be interesting to see how Offensive Coordinator Fred Kaiss deploys his QB2 and QB3 this year. Last year, D’Eriq King torched opposing defenses using his legs. Both McClendon and Francois have the ability to tuck it and run when needed. Speaking of running the ball, D.C. faced a roadblock during training camp with the loss of 2023 XFL MVP Abram Smith to a torn ACL. In relief of Smith sits Cam’Ron Harris, Pooka Williams and Darius Hagans. You can expect the unexpected with this group of backs. Williams is a threat with the ball in his hands on both offense and in the return game. Harris and Hagans should get the bulk of the carries in obvious rushing situations.


Catching passes from Ta’amu will be perhaps the deepest group of receivers the UFL has to offer. Wide Receiver Brandon Smith returns to D.C. after a successful 2023 with the Defenders. Free agent acquisitions in Keke Koutee, Kelvin Harmon, and Vyncint Smith are huge signings for Hutchins. Chris Rowland adds a speed element in either a slot role or out of the backfield. The receiving talent does not stop in the receiver room, though. Tight Ends Briley Moore, Kaden Smith, and Alex Ellis will provide plenty of security blankets for Ta’amu in key passing downs. 




Defend D.C. is not just a moniker for this team. The Defenders defense is absolutely loaded with talent and skill. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams will live and die via the blitz. Up front, look for DT’s Joe Wallace and T.J. Barnes apply pressure up the middle. On the edge, Defensive Ends Davin Bellamy and Trent Harris will have opposing linemen out of position and off balance all year long. The pressure won’t just be applied by the men up front, Linebackers Reggie Northup, Francis Bernard, and Anthony Hines should get plenty of play in the second level. Finally in the secondary, D.C. possesses a set of defensive backs that should grade out as the top unit in the league. Returning Cornerback Michael Joseph will be joined by NFL veterans Deandre Baker and Gareon Conley. Safeties D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, and Santos Ramirez should provide excellent coverage abilities for Williams’ third level. Look for this defense to capitalize on mistakes and make big plays all season long.


2) St. Louis Battlehawks

Notable Players: QB A.J. McCarron, WR Hakeem Butler, DE Pita Taumoepenu, DT Austin Faoliu




As we make our way to the runner up’s in our Power Rankings, the St. Louis BattleHawks enter 2024 with one goal in mind. A UFL championship. Head Coach Anthony Becht and his staff did a phenomenal job acquiring talent this offseason. Much like the aforementioned D.C. Defenders, Becht and General Manager Dave Boller were able to make some incredible signings this past offseason. Couple that with many players returning and you get a roster that rivals the best across the UFL. The Dome will be rocking in 2024, giving St. Louis the best home field advantage in the league. 


As we start under center, returning starting Quarterback A.J. McCarron is on a short list for preseason MVP of the league. The 33-year-old enters his second season with the Battlehawks under the watchful eye of Offensive Coordinator Bruce Gradkowski. After spending all of last season in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, McCarron is back in St. Louis once again. McCarron led the XFL with 24 passing touchdowns in 2023. Backing up McCarron is former Houston Roughnecks QB Brandon Slivers, and returning QB Manny Wilkins. On the ground, look for a combination of Wayne Gallman II, Mataeo Durant, and Jacob Saylors to shoulder the workload. Gallman will see his first spring football action after spending time in the NFL with several different clubs since being drafted in 2017 by the Giants.


Catching passes for McCarron are a plethora of outstanding receiving options. Despite a camp injury to Wide Receiver Jachour Pearson, the Battlehawks will be streaking down the sidelines with the talent they have accumulated at receiver. Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler will lead this St. Louis group, grabbing anything and everything thrown his way. Marcell Ateman, Blake Jackson, and Darrius Shepherd should line up in a multitude of alignments alongside Butler this year. Look for returning Tight End Jake Sutherland and newcomer Kemari Averett to contribute when needed.


Moving to the defense, Defensive Tackles Kobe Smith and Austin Faoliu will work tirelessly in the trenches for St. Louis. On the edge, Travis Feeney, Freedom Akinmoladun, and Pita Taumoepenu provide an excellent pass-rushing rotation. Yaumoepenu, the XFL’s Defensive Player of the Year last year, joins a loaded Battlehawks front in 2024. Linebackers Mike Rose and Willie Harvey should play lockdown defense in the second level for Defensive Coordinator Donnie Abraham. The Battlehawks secondary will be ball-hawking all season long. Led by Ben DeLuca, Brandon Sebastian, and Lavert Hill, the DB’s for St. Louis will make it difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Collectively, this defense has a chance to be special, paving the way for dominant victories in 2024.


1) Birmingham Stallions

Notable Players: QB Matt Corral, WR Deon Cain, LB Kyahva Tezino, LB DeMarquis Gates 

The rich just get richer, don’t they? Two time USFL Champions, the Birmingham Stallions have the best roster in the UFL heading into 2024. Top to bottom, this group of athletes rivals one of the best rosters ever assembled on a spring football platform. Head Coach Skip Hotlz and General Manager Zach Potter both return for their third season, this time taking on a new league in the UFL. What can fans expect out of this third iteration on this Birmingham team?  Quite honestly, more of the same. That “same” being dominant wins and championship aspirations.


Under center in 2024 comes spring football rookie Quarterback Matt Corral. No stranger to big moments at Ole Miss, Corral beat out two excellent quarterbacks in Adrian Martinez and J’Mar Smith. Originally a third round pick in 2022 by the Carolina Panthers, Corral suffered a Lisfranc injury that derailed his rookie year. After being released by Carolina, the Patriots took a stab at Corral last season. He bounced on and off the practice squad before winding up a free agent later in the year. The 25-year-old has a massive chip on his shoulder. The Stallions have churned out NFL quality QB’s before (see Alex McGough) and Corral has a chance to catapult himself back onto an NFL roster once the UFL season concludes.  


The Stallions lost a key piece of their offense with the announcement that former Running Back Bo Scarborough would be retiring. Stepping into the RB1 role will be C.J. Marable. The former Coastal Carolina back is familiar with Holtz’ offense and should have no issues getting the bulk of the carries in Birmingham in 2024. Looks for key contributions from Ricky Person Jr. and Larry Rountree in the backfield as well. Moving on to receivers, the Stallions rival the D.C. Defenders and St. Louis Battlehawks when it comes to depth here. Returning star Deon Cain, coupled with veterans in Garry Jennings, Amari Rodgers, and Marlon Williams make for an elite group of receivers at Corral’s disposal. Do not worry, Holtz and Potter are three deep at tight end, too. The trio of Jace Sternberger, Marcus Baugh, and Jordan Thomas are going to cause matchup nightmares all season long. The offense will be humming, and opposing defenses are going to have trouble stopping this group of pass catchers.


Much like the offense, you would be hard-pressed to find a more complete defense than the one residing in Birmingham. All three phases are loaded with talented, athletic players for Defensive Coordinator John Chavis and company. The D-Line features Defensive Tackle Marvin Wilson alongside Defensive Ends Taco Charlton, Dondrea Hillman, and Jordan Thompson. The linebacker duo of DeMarquis Gates and Scooby Wright III is the best in the league. Gates will miss week one, so look for Elijah Sullivan to fill in nicely. The secondary is composed of Mark Gilbert, Lorenzo Burns, Madre Harper, JoJo Tillery, and Kenny Robinson, Jr. An elite group of coverage playmakers should make it easier for the pass-rush to get home for Chavis’ crew.  




Conclusion

These eight squads are jam-packed with players who have withstood the test of time and made their respective week one rosters. Through it all, fans of the USFL and XFL have seen some of their favorite players get released, or sign with other teams along the way. The newly formed UFL will showcase spring football’s best players. Perhaps the best collective group of players seen in quite some time. Regardless of where your team sits in our week one Power Rankings, these can, and will, change in an instant. Kickoff begins tomorrow when the “Champion vs Champion” game gets underway between the Birmingham Stallions and Arlington Renegades. So, who is too high and who is too low?  Let us know! 



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