The DC Defenders will be coached by former University of San Diego offensive coordinator Tanner Engstrand. Engstrand went on to be an “offensive analyst” under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. The Defenders offensive coordinator will be Pep Hamilton, who has been around the NFL, but most recently was with the Browns and Michigan and before that was Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator in Stanford and again in Indianapolis.
Engstrand was a run-first coordinator in San Diego but when passing, his team would take deep shots and put up good points. Hamilton also liked to take deep shots with Luck and T.Y. Hilton and with Cardale Jones at quarterback, they have plenty of options.
There are plenty of interesting names on the Defenders, including a few NFL players you will recognize.
Cardale Jones, QB, (Buffalo Bills)
Jones led Ohio State to a National Championship in 2014 and then was benched the following season. In 2016 he was drafted by the Bills in the fourth round. Jones ended up playing four years in the NFL, but never got a start. His athletic ability and potential continues to keep him getting jobs. He has a cannon arm and can beat you with his legs. The drop in competition at the XFL and a good set of receivers should help him put up numbers in D.C.
Jones could cede some touches to Tyree Jackson, as his ability could compliment the offense as a second quarterback on the field. The XFL also has a rule that allows tow forward passes if the players remain behind the line of scrimmage. It also allows double passes to be less risky, as the first pass may fall incomplete rather than becoming a fumbled lateral.
Jhurell Pressley, RB, (New Mexico, Minnesota Vikings)
Pressley put up chunk plays in New Mexico, averaging 6.9 yards per rush in 50 games. He ended up signing with the Vikings as an UDFA, but didn’t make the team. He also played in the AAF and led the short-lived league in rushing. He and Donnel Pumphrey will likely share work.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, (Philadelphia Eagles)
Pumphrey was the Eagles fourth-round pick in 2016 after putting up gaudy numbers San Diego State. Despite not starting his freshman year, Pumphrey accumulated 7,444 yards and 67 touchdowns in his college career. Pressley has a couple inches and thirty pounds on Pumphrey, so there’s a good chance we see Pumphrey as a receiving back while Pressley could work between the numbers.
Rashad Ross, WR, (Washington)
Ross has been rostered by 12 different teams in his career, including AAF and XFL. His most notable season in the NFL came with Washington in 2015 when he was a punt returner and reserve receiver. But, his best season as a professional came with the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF, where he led the league in receiving touchdowns and average depth of target. He should be a big play maker with the Defenders.
DC Defenders Preview
|12||Jones, Cardale||QB||6'5"||264||Ohio State|
|24||Pumphrey, Donnel||RB||5'8"||178||San Diego State|
|26||Pressley, Jhurell||RB||5'10"||209||New Mexico|
|31||Brossette, Nick||RB||5'11"||210||Louisiana State|
|32||Abdullah, Khalid||RB||5'9"||226||James Madison|
|1||Thompkins, DeAndre||WR||5'11"||187||Penn State|
|9||Rowell, Jalen||WR||6'4"||Air Force|
|15||Ross, Rashad||WR||6'0"||180||Arizona State|
|19||Dupre, Malachi||WR||6'4"||195||Louisiana State|
|80||Ernsberger, Donnie||TE||6'3"||241||Western Michigan|
|86||Lee, Khari||TE||6'4"||255||Bowie State|
|2||Rausa, Ty||K||5'9"||189||Boise State|
|72||Tuley-Tillman, Logan||OT||6'6"||308||Texas-El Paso|
|79||Wesley, De'Ondre||OT||6'6"||320||Brigham Young|
|75||Brown, Chris||OG||6'4"||315||Southern California|
|53||Thurman, Jameer||LB||6'0"||223||Indiana State|
|55||Williams, Antwione||LB||6'3"||245||Georgia Southern|
|90||Anau, Siupeli||DT||6'2"||286||Northern Arizona|
|93||Sprinkle, Tracy||DT||6'2"||287||Ohio State|
|94||Vakameilalo, Kalani||DT||6'3"||322||Oregon State|
|95||Bigelow, Kenny||DT||6'3"||308||West Virginia|
|42||Khoury, Brian||DE||6'3"||238||Carnegie Mellon|
|56||Freeman, KeShun||DE||6'2"||259||Georgia Tech|
|99||Montgomery, Sam||DE||6'3"||248||Louisiana State|
|21||Grant, Doran||CB||5'10"||195||Ohio State|
|25||Lawrence, Desmond||CB||5'11"||187||North Carolina|
|28||Campbell, Elijah||CB||5'11"||192||Northern Iowa|