News Release, XFL

Washington, D.C.- The DC Defenders will make XFL history on Saturday, Feb. 8, when they host the Seattle Dragons at 2 p.m. ET at Audi Field in the first game of the 2020 XFL season and the first game in Defenders history.

But before Week 1 arrives, the Defenders must go through Training Camp.

Having completed a three-week minicamp at the University of Maryland, the Defenders head to Houston, along with the seven other XFL teams.

The Defenders’ training camp will take place at Rice University beginning on Jan. 5. Get to know the squad as we gear up for the final month before the start of the 2020 XFL season.


Quarterbacks: Cardale Jones (Ohio State), Tyree Jackson (Buffalo), Vad Lee (James Madison)

Running Backs: Khalid Abdullah (James Madison), Nick Brossette (LSU), Jhurell Pressley (New Mexico), Donnel Pumphrey (SDSU), John Thomas (Penn State)

Wide Receivers: Frank Brown (Bethune-Cookman), Malachi Dupre (LSU), Deion Holliman (Missouri State), Will Likely (Maryland), Tre McBride (William & Mary), Max McCaffrey (Duke), Richard Mullaney (Alabama), Tyler Palka (Gannon), Eli Rogers (Louisville), DeAndre Thompkins (Penn State), Jordan Westerkamp (Nebraska)

Tight Ends: Donnie Ernsberger (Western Michigan), Derrick Hayward (Maryland), Khari Lee (Bowie State), Adrien Robinson (Cincinnati), Dimitrios Tsesmetzis (Western Connecticut State)

Offensive Line: Cole Boozer (Temple), Chris Brown (USC), Malcolm Bunche (UCLA), Richard Cook (UAB), Chase Farris (Ohio State), Randall Harris (Towson), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh), Jordan Morgan (Kutztown), James O’Hagan (Buffalo), Ronald Patrick (South Carolina), Terronne Prescod (NC State), Jon Toth (Kentucky), Logan Tuley-Tillman (UTEP), De’Ondre Wesley (BYU)

Special Teams: Brian Khoury (Carnegie Mellon), Hunter Niswander (Northwestern)


Defensive Line: Siupeli Anau (Northern Arizona), Tavaris Barnes (Clemson), Daryle Banfield (Brown), Kenny Bigelow Jr. (West Virginia), Jay Bromley (Syracuse), Elijah Qualls (Washington), Kristjan Sokoli (Buffalo), Tracy Sprinkle (Ohio State), Kalani Vakameilalo (Oregon State)

Linebackers: Jesse Aniebonam (Maryland), Jonathan Celestin (Minnesota), Koa Farmer (Penn State), KeShun Freeman (Georgia Tech), Kerron Johnson (Coastal Carolina), Sam Montgomery (LSU), AJ Tarpley (Stanford), Jameer Thurman (Indiana State), Antwione Williams (Georgia Southern), Scooby Wright (Arizona)

Cornerbacks: Elijah Campbell (Northern Iowa), Reggie Cole (Mary Hardin Baylor), Doran Grant (Ohio State), Deion Harris (North Dakota), Desmond Lawrence (North Carolina), Jalen Myrick (Minnesota), Bradley Sylve (Alabama)

Safeties: Matt Elam (Florida), Tyree Kinnel (Michigan), Carlos Merritt (Campbell), Rahim Moore (UCLA)


  • Matt Elam, S: No. 32 overall (1st), Baltimore Ravens. 2013
  • Rahim Moore, S: No. 45 overall (2nd), Denver Broncos. 2011
  • Jay Bromley, DT: No. 74 overall (3rd), New York Giants. 2014
  • Sam Montgomery, DE: No. 95 overall (3rd), Houston Texans. 2013
  • Dorian Johnson, OG: No. 115 overall (4th), Arizona Cardinals. 2017
  • Doran Grant, CB: No. 121 overall (4th), Pittsburgh Steelers. 2015
  • Donnel Pumphrey, RB: No. 132 overall (4th), Philadelphia Eagles. 2017
  • Cardale Jones, QB: No. 139 overall (4th), Buffalo Bills. 2016
  • Jordan Morgan, OG: No. 147 overall (5th), Chicago Bears. 2017
  • Antwione Williams, LB: No. 169 overall (5th), Detroit Lions. 2016
  • Kristjan Sokoli, DT: No. 214 overall (6th), Seattle Seahawks. 2015
  • Elijah Qualls, DT: No. 214 overall (6th), Philadelphia Eagles. 2017
  • Jalen Myrick, CB: No. 222 overall (7th), Jacksonville Jaguars. 2017
  • Tre McBride, WR: No. 245 overall (7th), Tennessee Titans. 2015
  • Malachi Dupre, WR: No. 247 overall (7th), Green Bay Packers. 2017
  • Scooby Wright, LB: No. 250 overall (7th), Cleveland Browns. 2016

The DC Defenders training camp roster is made up of players that have been a part of 30 of 32 NFL teams. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams are the only two teams without any former players on the DC Defenders roster. Ten former New York Giants players are on the training camp roster, more than any other NFL team. The Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars each have nine former players.

Of the 70 players on the Defenders training camp roster, 52 played at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level, 12 played at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, two at the Division II level and four at the Division III level.

Of the 52 players to compete at the FBS level, 38 played at Power-5 schools, with 14 playing at Group of 5 schools.

The Big Ten Conference has 15 former players from seven schools on the Defenders roster. The ACC is responsible for eight players on the Defenders roster from eight different schools.

No school has more representation on the DC Defenders training camp roster than Ohio State, thanks to Chase Farris, Doran Grant, Cardale Jones, and Tracy Sprinkle. Buffalo, LSU, Maryland and Penn State each have three former players on the Defenders training camp roster.

Eight players on the Defenders training camp roster have championship success at the collegiate level. Farris, Grant, Jones, and Sprinkle were all members of the Ohio State team that captured the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2015. Bradley Sylve was a member of the Alabama team that won the BCS National Championship in 2013 and the 2016 team, along with Richard Mullaney, that captured the College Football Playoff National Championship. Khalid Abdullah hoisted the NCAA FCS National Championship at James Madison in 2016, and Reggie Cole captured both the 2016 and 2018 Division III National Championship at Mary Hardin Baylor.

There are eight players on the DC Defenders training camp roster with DMV ties. Khari LeeCole BoozerRandall HarrisDerrick Hayward and Jesse Aniebonam grew up in Maryland with Khalid Abdullah growing up in Virginia. Will Likely, a Florida native, spent his collegiate career at Maryland, while Vad Lee, a North Carolina native, finished his collegiate career at James Madison.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...