Six former Ole Miss Rebels will take the field this weekend in the new look USFL in its opening weekend in Birmingham.
Protective Stadium in Alabama’s largest city will host the entire league this season in its first season since its ultimate collapse in 1986. The latest version of the alternate league of the NFL consists of eight teams, and its first game between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. will feature two former Rebels.
Trae Elston, former headhunting safety, is lining up at cornerback for the Generals, and DeMarquis Gates will be roaming the defensive backfield at linebacker for the Stallions. Elston spent a few years on several different NFL rosters without ever finding a permanent spot with a team. Gates has played in the NFL, Alliance of American Football and the XFL in the last four years.
Fox will broadcast Saturday’s game, but other games over the weekend will be featured on NBC, FS1, USA and also the Peacock streaming app.
On Sunday, there will be a tripleheader featuring wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo on the Michigan Panthers and cornerback Derrick Jones on the New Orleans Breakers. Adeboyejo is most famous for his careening touchdown catch against Alabama in a major upset in Tuscaloosa in 2015. Jones had a two year stint with the New York Jets and has played for the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans as well in the last few years.
By far, the most excitement for Ole Miss fans will likely be around the Tampa Bay Bandits and its quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. The 24-year-old out of Pearl City, Hawaii was a two year starter for Ole Miss from 2017-2018 when he amassed 30 passing touchdowns and 5600 yards passing.
Ta’amu has bounced around the NFL a good bit, but he has yet to see significant playing time. He previously started at QB in the first season of the XFL for the St. Louis Battlehawks.
Joining Ta’amu on the Bandits roster is defensive tackle Austrian Robinson. Robinson was the 2019 Chucky Mullins award winner.
I’m not totally convinced this version of the USFL will work either, but it’s football so why not watch and see if some of the Rebels can make enough noise to get another look in the NFL. Here’s to football in the spring, cheers!