Bears News: Previewing the UFL: Memphis Showboats

Bears News: Previewing the UFL: Memphis Showboats

by - Senior Writer -

From the Memphis Express of the AAF to the now-Memphis Showboats, Spring football has been around for several years in Memphis, and they continue to play a vital role in the growth of the Spring Leagues. It has gotten to the point where Memphis was one of the four Hubs for the USFL last season, and once again, the Liberty Bowl will play host to games this season as the Showboats are back for another season of Spring Football.

Unlike last season when Todd Haley ran this team, things will look a lot different in 2024, and that all starts with the coaching staff.—taking over as Head Coach is longtime NFL QB coach and OC John DeFilippo, as he will take part in his second spring ball season. DeFilippo has never had a head coaching opportunity in the NFL, but after going 6-4 with the New Orleans Breakers last season, he has shown he has what it takes to lead a team, and perhaps another good year with Memphis will further prove that point.

Known as a quarterback genius and an offensive mastermind, DeFilippo has one of the deepest offensive teams in the league. It starts at the quarterback position. What begins with former Philadelphia Stars QB Case Cookus ends with Troy Williams and Josh Love, as all three have started in Spring Leagues before. Cookus has had the most success, but Williams and Love have shown they are more than capable of leading a team.

Losing Alex Collins in the backfield will be a massive loss, but having Trey Williams and Darius Victor should allow the Showboats to compensate. Victor is the AJ Dillon of the UFL, and it is surprising to see him playing in the Spring again rather than in the NFL. Victor is a rusher who can take over a game, so look for him to get plenty of touches in 2024.

As mentioned above, the QB position is arguably the best of all the spring teams, but the team will only go as far as the WRs and TEs take it. Wes Saxton and Sage Surratt give the Showboats two of the better TEs in the league, as they could line up in duel TE sets.

You also have Vinny Papale, Rashard Davis, and Diondre Overton at the WR position, as the Showboats have five players capable of catching passes.

While the offense should be vastly improved from last season, what about the defense? That side of the ball won many games in 2023. John Atkins, PJ Hall, and Daylon Mack are the names to watch up front, as all three can dictate the momentum in the trenches. Hall has racked up 2.5 NFL sacks in four seasons, while Atkins has 22 career NFL tackles.

A pair of talented players, Shaheed Salmon and Vontae Diggs, will lead the LB group. Salmon has bounced around the Spring Leagues the past few seasons after starting his career with the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL. Diggs, no relation to Stefon or Trevon of the NFL, is also no stranger to the Spring Leagues while also seeing time in the CFL.

Both of them will be tasked with leading the least experienced group of the defense, as their growth will be massive for this team.

Many recognize Tye Smith's name in the secondary. He has played for several NFL organizations, including the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans. Throughout his career, Smith wasn't an everyday player, but he made some plays when he was called upon. He has 64 career tackles in the NFL, with one INT and one defensive score.

Former second-round pick TJ Green will anchor the safety position with Quenton Meeks and Delrick Abrams as two more players are expected to lead the defense this season.

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