With the NFL season ending after Super Bowl Sunday, avid football fans will still have something to look forward to this weekend with the XFL featuring seven former Ole Miss football players participating in its return after a single season back in 2001.
Former Rebel quarterback Jordan Ta’amu will lead the St. Louis BattleHawks from behind center. Ta’amu beat out former Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald for the starting position.
Ta’amu led the SEC in passing yards per game and total offense in 2018. That year, he finished second in school history in passing yards and tenth in touchdowns. Ta’amu played briefly with the Texans in 2019, but he was unable to secure a roster spot.
Defensive end Channing Ward is also on that St. Louis roster. Ward recorded 110 total tackles on defense and special teams while also playing in every game of his collegiate career.
Offensive linemen Christian Morris and Daronte Bouldin will both play for the Tampa Bay Vipers. Morris, after suffering a nearly career-ending injury in college, played alongside Bouldin in the AAF on the Memphis Express.
Like Morris and Bouldin, former Ole Miss linebacker DeMarquis Gates and safety Trae Elston will play together on the Houston Roughnecks.
Both players were strong contributors to the Rebel defense. Gates led the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons, while Elston was second team All-American and second team All-SEC in the 2015 season.
Jeremy Liggins served primarily as an offensive player at Ole Miss, but he will join the Seattle Dragons as a defensive tackle. He’s 6 feet 3 inches tall, 315 pounds and deceptively quick. He has also played offensive tackle and tight end, so his flexible skill set can certainly be utilized by the Dragons.
The XFL, starting this Saturday on Feb. 8, consists of eight teams and plenty of rule changes to introduce a new way to play football. Here are a few new rules that the XFL will abide by for this season:
- Players will only need to have one foot in-bounds for a successful catch.
- There are no extra points; instead, teams will decide to either attempt a 1, 2 or 3-point conversion from the 2, 5 or 10-yard lines, respectively. So, it is possible to score 9 points from a single possession.
- Teams can pass the ball forward twice on any given play, provided that the ball does not cross the line of scrimmage prior to the second forward pass. The XFL is hoping this will inject more creativity into the game.
- On kickoffs, 10 players on the receiving team will line up on their own 30-yard line, with the opposing team 5 yards away from them at the 35. The kicker will be at his own 25-yard line. From there, neither team can move until the ball is caught or three seconds after the ball hits the ground. This rule is specifically geared at limiting the injuries that have been so prevalent in the NFL on kickoffs while also keeping the play relevant.
The Seattle Dragons and DC Defenders will open the season on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. Jordan Ta’amu will suit up for his first game with the BattleHawks against the Dallas Renegades on Sunday, Feb. 9.