Former Gophers & Vikings in the XFL
The NFL season has come to an end and so has football until the fall … well, not quite. The second go-around of the XFL begins this weekend.
Wondering who to root for (or even who is on the rosters)? We’ve compiled a list of the former Minnesota Gophers and Vikings players who will be lining up for the eight XFL teams. Maybe this will help you decide which team(s) to pay attention to.
Without further ado, here’s the list as taken off the initial 52-man rosters:
Dallas Renegades (opens Sunday, Feb. 9 vs. St. Louis at 4 p.m. CT)
QB Philip Nelson: The Gophers career of the former Minnesota Mr. Football never really took off. Nelson passed for 2,179 yards, 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 50% of his pass attempts as a freshman and a sophomore for Minnesota before transferring to Rutgers in 2014. But he never played for the Scarlet Knights due to a bar fight that resulted in a third-degree assault charge. Once that was settled, Nelson transferred to East Carolina where he played one season in 2016, throwing for 2,621 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
OT Willie Beavers: Oh, Willie. A fourth-round pick (121st overall) by Minnesota in 2016, Beavers was active for two games with the Vikings as a rookie. He then bounced around on practice squads in New England, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco before landing in the XFL.
LB Greer Martini: An undrafted free-agent signee of Green Bay in 2018, Martini was cut by the Packers and found a home in the short-lived AAF, finishing fifth in the league with 55 tackles in eight games. He spent the 2019 training camp with the Vikings before being released Aug. 30.
WR Jeff Badet: An intriguing undrafted free-agent signing by the Vikings in 2018, Badet and his blazing 4.27 40-yard dash impressed Minnesota enough for the Vikings to give him a $75,000 bonus to stick with the franchise in 2019. Badet had an outside shot of competing for the team’s third receiver spot last training camp but was cut before the season started. Badet also participated in the “40 Yards of Gold,” an event hosted by Chad Johnson to determine the fastest player in the NFL. He was eliminated in the first round.
DC Defenders (Saturday, Feb. 8 vs. Seattle, 1 p.m.)
LB Jonathan Celestin: The linebacker played 40 games for Minnesota from 2014-17, tallying 217 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, seven passes defensed and 3.5 sacks over his career.
CB Jalen Myrick: Myrick logged 93 tackles, 21 passes defensed and five interceptions from 2013-16 for the Gophers. Myrick created buzz at the NFL combine by setting a Big Ten record with a 4.28 40-yard dash and he was selected in the seventh round by Jacksonville. Despite making the 53-man roster out of training camp, Myrick played just five games as a rookie and was waived the next season. He also spent time on the practice squads of Minnesota and Atlanta in 2018 and 2019 before the XFL came calling.
RB Jhurell Pressley: The New Mexico Lobos star signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He never made the team. Pressley latched on to Green Bay, Atlanta, Jacksonville and the New York Giants but never appeared in an NFL game.
Los Angeles Wildcats (Saturday, Feb. 8 at Houston, 4 p.m.)
RB DuJuan Harris: Playing for Jacksonville, Green Bay, Seattle and San Francisco, Harris rushed for 590 yards on 145 attempts (4.1 average) and two touchdowns from 2011-16. He signed a one-year deal with Minnesota in 2015 but never played a single snap for the Vikings.
OT Storm Norton: First off, “Storm Norton” is as good as football names get. An undrafted free agent in 2017, Norton signed with Detroit and bounced around until landing with the Vikings after the 2017 season. He was promoted to the active roster for one game in 2018 and was waived by the Vikings following training camp last season.
S Jack Tocho: The only defensive back selected by Minnesota in 2017, Tocho was a seventh-round pick out of North Carolina State. He was waived five times by the Vikings in 2017 and 2018 before landing with Washington, and later, the Birmingham Iron of the AAF.
Seattle Dragons (Saturday, Feb. 8 at DC, 1 p.m.)
DT Will Sutton: A third-round choice by Chicago in 2014, Sutton made 60 tackles across 36 games for the Bears from 2014-16. He signed with Minnesota before the 2017 season but was released in training camp. Sutton then hopped on with San Francisco in 2018 and the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF a year later, compiling 15 tackles and one sack in eight games before the league folded.
St. Louis Battlehawks (Sunday, Feb. 9 at Dallas, 4 p.m.)
QB Taylor Heinicke: Heinicke served as a third-string quarterback with plenty of promise in 2015, but his chances to make an impact with the Vikings were squashed in 2016 when he showed up to training camp in a leg cast. Heinicke had injured himself by kicking in a door when he was locked out of a friend’s apartment while intoxicated. Anyway, the quarterback went on to play seven games in the NFL, throwing for 330 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions on 36-of-58 passing for Houston and Carolina from 2017-18.
Tampa Bay Vipers (Sunday, Feb. 9 at N.Y., 1 p.m.)
WR Stacey Coley: Coley, who hauled in the second-most career receptions in University of Miami history, was a seventh-round pick by the Vikings in 2017. He never caught a pass in the NFL but made four punt returns and three kick returns for Minnesota and New York in 2017-18. Selected in the fourth round of the XFL draft in 2020 by Dallas, Coley was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for wide receiver Freddie Martino.
TE Nick Truesdell: Truesdell’s stay with the Vikings was short, as he signed before the 2017 season and was a training-camp cut later that summer. Truesdell has also played in the Indoor Football League, the Arena Football League and the AAF.